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Re-Imagining and Re-Placing New York and Istanbul

Exploring the Heterotopic and Third Spaces in Paul Auster's and Orhan Pamuk’s City Novels

Hatice Bay

The author re-examines the urban novels of Auster and Pamuk in the light of Foucault's heterotopia and Bhabha's the Third Space, respectively. Furthermore, for the discussions of the nature of the relationship between the self and the other, this present study deploys Emmanuel Levinas's ethics. This book argues that examining the urban spaces and characters of Auster and Pamuk through the prisms of Foucault, Bhabha and Levinas establishes a new critical framework that gives a constructive and ethical angle to the negative late twentieth-century and early twenty-first century discourses on the city and its inhabitants. The reader of this book will discover urban subjects who actively transform their respective cities into either heterotopic or Third Spaces and thereby become response-able for and attentive to their immediate surroundings, to their national or personal histories and, most importantly, to other people. At the same time, by bringing these two different cities, cultures and authors that are poles apart together, this book aims to problematize commonly held beliefs about Americanness and Turkishness and thus pave the way for looking at discourses such as «clash of civilizations», «margin» (Istanbul) and «center» (New York), the belated and the advanced from a critical point of view suggesting that there is a common discursive affinity with similar outlooks on life, personal, historical and physical spaces on both sides, rather than a «clash of civilizations». The arguments presented here will be of interest to students and scholars of city literature, comparative literature and history of ideas as well as to readers who have an interest in theory and close reading.

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The discourses of identity and urban crises have preoccupied the urban, literary and cultural studies since the 1980s. Towards the end of the twentieth century, critics asserted that because of globalization, capitalism and consumerism, cities have become homogeneous sites. Furthermore, it has been argued that in such a totalized, simulated and media saturated social landscape, the urban inhabitants have lost their sense of direction, place and agency. Jeremiah Moss in Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul expresses the essence of the problem:

In a New York where people are reconceived as consumers, not citizens, it is most profitable to keep everyone moving and disconnected. This is what the hyper-globalized, ultracompetitive city looks and feels like. I saw the perfect word for it scrawled on a wall in the East Village: blandalism. Sleepwalking inside digital bubbles, the iZombies hustle through the city without looking. And you can’t really have compassion for a thing—or a person—without beholding it. (232)

Without saying so directly, this claim suggests that the city is void of life, of culture and of vibrancy. This study, on the other hand, by using the theories of heterotopia, the Third Space and Levinasian ethics and by bringing Auster’s and Pamuk’s urban novels together, has suggested that the scholarly focus on the problematics of the city and its inhabitants presents only one-dimensional aspect of the contemporary urban condition. I have put Auster and Pamuk in conversation because a comparative...

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