Shoshana, September 14, 2008 (view all comments by Shoshana)
This novel may remind you a little of the Star Trek--The Original Series episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" in which two people seen by others as extremely similar to each other see themselves as quite different. While this plot is not the same as the 1966 Star Trek episode's, there are some similarities. The Italian narrator describes being captured at sea, thrown into a Turkish jail, and eventually winning the favor of a powerful patron (though as a slave). He spends much time with the mysterious Hoja, who looks shockingly like him. Much of the novel describes their reciprocal psychological torments and raises questions about identity, history, and stories, both individually and at a cultural level. The plot is not particularly standard, and the symbolism is a little heavy. The frame story that introduces the "manuscript" seems like it ought to be more than a literary device, but that is my only clue as to how it should be understood. Still, this was an interesting novel and I'd read another by Pamuk.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (4 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
ssaundersnorfolk, November 24, 2007 (view all comments by ssaundersnorfolk)
Through the protagonist’s ever-changing perception of the relationship between Hoja and himself, Pamuk captured the essence of all long-term, co-dependent, one-to-one relationships. Whether pertaining to siblings, spouses, roommates, parents-and-children, or co-workers, there exists a constant jockeying for position of dominance and quest for maintaining self-identification, all while harboring a desire to reap the benefits of comradeship and to sustain a sense of belonging.
In terms of the “story-telling” in White Castle, Orhan Pamuk utilized many tools of the trade and blended them successfully to invite his readers not as observers who peer in from one vantage point, but as attendees who can move among the setting, characters, and plot and therefore better identify with the story. Pamuk details each setting and includes material symbolism throughout his novel to give the reader both the physical space and familiarity to navigate within the story. His first person narrative constantly weaves the reader through the protagonist’s alternating thoughts which include supposition, vulnerability, determination, impatience, self-reflection, self-discovery, and self-denial. The unhurried pace of thought and frustration that the author gives his protagonist allows the reader to experience and appreciate the tedium of this captivity that is plagued with psychological neglect, abuse, and indifference.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (5 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
Vintage Books USA -
Orhan Pamuk proffers a dazzling work of historical and philosophical fiction, set amid the scholarship and savagery of 17th-century Constantinople. When a young Italian scholar is taken prisoner, he becomes the slave and tutor of a Turkish scholar who is his exact double. THE WHITE CASTLE is a triumph of the imagination, as colorful and intricately patterned as a Turkish prayer rug.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.