La Maleta de mi Padre - Orhan Pamuk.odt

Lectura de aceptación del Premio Nobel de Literatura 2006. Por Pamuk Orhan (Traducción por Juan Pablo Plata) “La Malet

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Lectura de aceptación del Premio Nobel de Literatura 2006. Por Pamuk

Orhan

(Traducción por Juan Pablo Plata) “La Maleta de mi Padre” Dos años antes de morir, mi padre me dio una maleta llena con sus textos, manuscritos y notas. Asumiendo su usual aire satírico y humorístico me dijo que quería que los leyera cuando se hubiera ido, queriendo decir después de su muerte. “Échales un vistazo”, me dijo, con cara de embarazo. “Mira si hay algo útil para ti dentro de ellos. De pronto cuando me haya ido puedes hacer una selección y publicarla”

Estábamos en mi estudio, rodeados de libros. Mi padre buscaba un lugar para su maleta, vagando de aquí para allá como un hombre deseando deshacerse de una dolorosa carga. Al final la depositó silenciosamente en una esquina donde no estorbaba. Fue un momento penoso nunca olvidado por ninguno de los dos, pero una vez había ocurrido y habíamos regresado a nuestros roles habituales, tomando la vida con ligereza, nuestras bromas y personalidades sardónicas regresaron y nos relajamos. Hablamos como siempre lo hacíamos sobre las trivialidades de la vida y los incesantes problemas políticos de Turquía y sobre las casi todas fallidas empresas de mi padre, sin sentir mucha tristeza. Recuerdo que cuando mi padre partió pasé varias semanas caminado enfrente de la maleta sin tocarla. Ya me había familiarizado con la pequeña maleta negra, su candado y redondas esquinas. Mi padre la lleva en viajes cortos y la usaba otra veces para cargar documentos del trabajo. Recuerdo que cuando era chico y mi padre regresaba de viaje, yo habría la pequeña maleta para buscar atropelladamente en sus cosas, saboreando la esencia de la colonia y de los países extranjeros. La maleta era un amigo común, una poderosa memoria de mi infancia, mi pasado, pero ahora no podía si quiera tocarla. No hay duda de que era por el peso misterioso de su contenido. Ahora voy hablar del contenido de aquel peso: es aquello que una persona crea encerrada en un cuarto, sentada en una mesa, retirada en una esquina para expresar sus pensamientos, esto es, el significado de la literatura. Cuando toqué la maleta de mi padre no podía todavía moverme a abrirla, pero sabía que dentro estaban algunas de sus libretas. Había visto a mi padre escribir en algunas de ellas; no era la primera vez que oía la pesada carga dentro de la maleta. Mi padre tenía una biblioteca en su juventud a finales de la década de 1940, él quería ser un poeta de Estambul y había traducido a Valery al turco, pero no quería vivir esa vida que traía el escribir poesía en un país pobre de pocos lectores. El padre de mi padre-mi abuelo- era un hombre rico; mi padre había llevado una vida cómoda de niño y joven y no deseaba pasar malos ratos en nombre de la literatura, por escribir. Amaba la vida con todas sus bellezas- yo lo comprendí. La primera cosa que me tuvo alejado del contenido de la maleta de mi padre, claro, fue el temor, tal vez, de que no gustara lo que iba leer. Mi padre sabía esto, porque había tomado la precaución de actuar como si no tomara el contenido en serio. Después de trabajar 25 años como escritor me dolía ver esto, pero no quería disgustarme con mi padre por fallar en tomar la literatura con la seriedad suficiente.

Mi verdadero padre, aquello crucial que no deseba saber o descubrir era que mi padre era un buen escritor. No podía abrir la maleta temiendo esto. Pero aún, no podía admitir esto a mis ojos de manera abierta. Si verdadera y buena literatura afloraba de la maleta de mi padre, debía reconoce entonces la existencia de un hombre diferente dentro de mi padre. Era una posibilidad temeraria porque incluso a mi avanzada edad quería que mi padre sólo fuera mi padre, no un escritor. Un escritor es alguien que pasa los años descubriendo pacientemente su segundo ser dentro de sí y el mundo que lo hacer ser lo que es: cuando hablo de la escritura lo que primero pasa por mi mente no es una novela, un poema o la tradición literaria, lo que veo es a un persona encerrada en un cuarto, sentada en una mesa que sola va hacia dentro de sí misma y entre sus sombras construye un mundo nuevo con palabras. Este hombre-o mujer- puede usar una máquina de escribir, valerse de la facilidad de un ordenador, o escribir con un esfero y una hoja, como yo lo he hecho durante treinta años. Mientras escribe, puede tomar té o café o fumar cigarrillos. De tiempo en tiempo tal vez se levante de la mesa para mirar por la ventana hacia los niños jugando en la calle, y si corre con suerte hacia los árboles y un paisaje, o puede atisbar un muro negro; puede escribir poemas o novelas como yo, todas las diferencias vienen luego de la difícil tarea de sentarse a la mesa y con paciencia ir dentro de sí. Escribir es volver este meterse dentro de sí en un atisbo de palabras para estudiar el mundo al que esa persona va cuando se retira dentro de sí mismo, y hacer tal con paciencia, obstinación y alegría. Mientras me siento en mi mesa por días, meses, años, con morosidad agregando nuevas palabras a la página vacía, me siento creando un mundo nuevo, al tiempo que voy hacia la otra persona dentro de mí, del mismo modo en que alguien construye un puente o un domo, piedra a piedra. Las piedras usadas por nosotros los escritores son las palabras, las sostenemos en nuestras manos, sintiendo la forma en que cada una de ellas esta conectada con las demás, mirándolas desde la distancia, algunas veces casi acariciándolas con nuestros dedos y puntas de nuestros esferos, pesándolas, moviéndolas, durante años y años, con paciencia y esperanza nosotros creamos nuevos mundos. El secreto del escritor no es la inspiración- pues no se sabe con claridad su procedencia-, es su terquedad, su paciencia. Ese adorable aforismo turco- cavar un pozo con una aguja- parece haber sido dicho teniendo a los escritores en mente. De los relatos antiguos me encanta la paciencia de Ferhat, quien vaga por montañas por su amor- cosa que también comprendo. En mi novela Mi nombre es rojo cuando escribí sobre los viejos miniaturistas persas quienes han pintado el mismo caballo con la misma pasión por años, memorizando cada golpe que hasta pueden recrear el bello caballo con sus ojos cerrados, sabía que hablaba sobre la profesión de escritor, sobre mi propia vida.

Si un escritor cuenta su propia historia- debe contarla despacio como si fuera la historia de otros-, si desea sentir el poder de la historia levantándose dentro de él, si se sienta en una mesa y se da a su arte-su artesanía- primero debe habérsele dado una esperanza. El ángel de la inspiración (visitador regular de algunos y otros con menos frecuencia) favorece al esperanzado y confidente, allí es cuando un escritor se siente más solo, más dudoso sobre sus esfuerzos, sus sueños y el valor de su escritura-cuando cree que su historia es sólo su historia-, es en esos momentos cuando el ángel escoge revelarle historias, imágenes y sueños que dibujarán el mundo que desea construir. Si pienso en los libros a los que he dedicado mi vida, me sorprendo más con aquellos momentos en he sentido como si las frases, sueños y páginas que me han hecho más feliz, llegar al éxtasis no hubiesen venido de mi imaginación sino que un poder las hubiera encontrado y con generosidad me las hubiera otorgado. Temía abrir la maleta de mi padre y leer sus libretas porque sabía que él no habría tolerado las dificultades que yo había pasado, que él no amaba la soledad pero si los amigos, las multitudes, los salones, las bromas, la compañía. Después mis pensamientos cambiaron. Estos pensamientos, estos sueños de renuncia y paciencia eran prejuicios derivados por mí de mi propia experiencia vital como escritor. Había muchos escritores quienes habían escrito rodeados por multitudes y vida familiar, al calor de la compañía y una feliz conversación. Adicionalmente, cuando joven, mi padre cansado de la monotonía de la vida familiar nos dejo para ir a París donde como muchos escritores se sentó a llenar libretas con apuntes. Sabía también que aquellas libretas estaban en la maleta, porque años atrás antes de haberla traído, mi padre finalmente había comenzado a hablarme acerca de esa época de su vida. Habló de aquellos años incluso cuando yo era un niño, pero nunca mencionó su vulnerabilidad, sus sueños de convertirse en escritor, o las preguntas sobre identidad que lo habían plagado en su cuarto de hotel. Me hablaba en cambio de las veces que había visto a Sartre en las aceras de París, de los libros leídos y las películas vistas, todo con el sincero regocijo de quien informa noticias muy importantes. Cuando me volví escritor nunca olvidé que esto ocurrió en parte gracias al hecho de haber tenido un padre que hablaba mucho más de escritores que sobre pashas o grandes líderes religiosos. Quizás debía leer las libretas de mi padre con esto en mente, recordando la deuda con su amplia biblioteca. Debía llevar en mente que cuando mi padre vivía con nosotros, al igual que yo, disfrutaba estar solo con sus libros y pensamientos y no poner demasiada atención a la calidad literaria de sus escritos. Para cuando yo atisbaba muy ansioso en la maleta legada por mi padre también sentí que eso era precisamente lo que no podía hacer.

Mi padre algunas veces abandona en su mano un libro o una revista enfrente del diván para ir en pos de un sueño, perderse en sí mismo por largo tiempo en sus pensamientos. Cuando vi en su cara una expresión muy distinta de la que usaba entre bromas, ironías y discusiones familiares, cuando vi los primeros síntomas del atisbo interior entendí en mis años de infancia y juventud con trepidación que él no se sentía contento. Ahora, muchos años después, sé que el descontento es una cualidad básica por la cual una persona comienza a escribir. Para ser un escritor no basta con el trabajo arduo y la paciencia: debemos primero forzarnos a escapar las multitudes, la compañía, las cosas ordinarias, la vida diaria y encerrarnos en un cuarto. Deseamos paciencia y esperanza para poder crear un mundo profundo con nuestra escritura. Pero el deseo de encerrarse en un cuarto es lo que nos lleva a la acción. El precursor de este tipo de escritor independiente- quien lee sus libros desde el corazón de su contenido y escucha sólo la voz de su propia conciencia, pelea con las palabras de otros; quien entra en charla con sus libros para desarrollar sus propios pensamientos y su mundo propio – fue ciertamente Montaigne en los primeros días de la literatura modernista. Montaigne fue un escritor al que mi padre volvió en reiteradas ocasiones, un escritor al que me recomendó. Me gustaría verme como perteneciente a la tradición de escritoressea que estén en el Este u Oeste en el mundo- apartados de la sociedad, encerrados en sus cuartos con sus libros. Pero una vez nos encerramos descubrimos que no estamos tan solos como pensábamos. Estamos en compañía de las palabras de los que estuvieron antes que nosotros, de las historias de otras gentes, las palabras de otras personas, aquello que llamamos tradición. Creo en la literatura como el tesoro más valioso acumulado por la humanidad en su búsqueda por entenderse a sí misma. Sociedades, tribus y gentes crecen en inteligencia y avanzan cuando ponen atención a las palabras complicadas de sus autores y como todos saben, la quema de libros y la denigración de escritores son ambos símbolos de tiempos oscuros e improcedentes para el futuro en medio de nosotros. Sin embargo, la literatura nunca es un sólo un asunto nacional. El escritor encerrado en un cuarto va primero en un viaje dentro de sí que con los años le hará descubrir la regla literaria eterna: debe tener el talento para contar sus propias historias como si fueran las historia de otros; para contar las historias de los otros como si fueran suyas, porque esto es la literatura. Pero primero debemos viajar a través de las historias de otras personas y libros. Mi padre tenía una biblioteca bien dotada- 1500 volúmenes-, más que suficiente para un escritor. A la edad de 22 años no los había leído todos pero era familiar con cada unosabía cuáles eran importantes, cuáles eran livianos, de lectura rápida; cuáles eran

clásicos, cuáles esenciales para mi educación, cuáles eran olvidables pero con divertidos relatos sobre la historia local, cuáles autores franceses mi padre ponderaba con altura. Algunas veces miraba la biblioteca desde la distancia e imaginaba un día en otra casa con mi propia librería, incluso una mejor biblioteca para construirme un mundo. Cuando veía la biblioteca de mi padre desde la distancia me parecía una imagen reducida del mundo real. Era un mundo, sin embargo, visto desde nuestra propia esquina, desde Estambul. La biblioteca era la evidencia de esto. Mi padre había construido su librería a partir de sus viajes con libros traídos en su mayoría de París y América, aunque también con libros comprados en tiendas que vendían libros en leguas extrajeras en las décadas del 40 y el 50 y en las librerías de nuevo y viejo en Estambul conocidas por mí. Mi mundo es una mezcla de lo local-nacional y Occidente. En los años setenta también comencé de una manera ambiciosa a construir mi biblioteca. No había decidido aún ser escritor. Como recuento en Estambul, había comenzado a sentir que después de todo no sería pintor, pero no estaba muy seguro de qué camino tomaría mi vida. Había dentro de mí una curiosidad imparable, un deseo esperanzador de leer y aprender al tiempo que percibía una falta, la sensación de no poder vivir como los demás. Parte de la sensación estaba conectada con lo sentido al atisbar la biblioteca paternavivir fuera del centro de las cosas, como todos los que vivimos en Estambul en aquellos años con la sensación de vivir en provincia. Había otra razón para la ansiedad y la falta, porque sabía que vivía en un país con poco interés por sus artistas- fueran sus pintores o escritores- y no les daban esperanzas. En los años setenta cuando tomaba el dinero de mi padre para comprar libros desleídos, polvorosos y cuarteados de los libreros de viejo de Estambul, estaba tan afectado por el lastimoso estado de las tiendas de segunda mano- por el desperado desorden y deterioro de los libros de los vendedores quienes desplegaban sus mercancías en los andenes, en los patios de mezquitas y nichos de desmoronados muros- como por sus libros. En cuanto a mi lugar en el mundo- en la vida como en la literatura, mi sensación era la de no estar en el centro. En el centro del mundo había una vida más rica y excitante que la nuestra, y con todo Estambul, toda Turquía, yo estaba fuera. Hoy pienso que comparto este mismo sentimiento con la mayoría de la gente en el mundo. En ese mismo sentido había un mundo literario y su centro igual estaba muy lejos de mí. En realidad lo que tenía en mente era Occidente no el mundo literario y nosotros los turcos estábamos afuera. La biblioteca lo demostraba. A un extremo estaban los libros sobre Estambul- nuestra literatura, nuestro mundo local, con todos sus adorables detalles y en el otro extremo estaban los libros del mundo

occidental, mundo con el que no teníamos afinidades. Nuestra falta de afinidades nos daba temor y esperanza. Escribir, leer era como partir de un mundo para encontrar consolación en la otredad de otro mundo, en lo extraño y en lo maravilloso. Sentí que mi padre había leído novelas para escapar su mundo y volar hacia Occidente-justo como yo haría tiempo después. O me pareció por aquellos días que los libros eran cosas tomadas por nosotros para escapar de nuestra cultura, la cual encontrábamos con grandes carencias. No solo leyendo partíamos de Estambul hacia Occidente, también lo hacíamos escribiendo. Para llenar sus libretas mi padre fue a París y se encerró en un cuarto y luego trajo sus escritos de regreso a Turquía. Atisbando la maleta de mi padre me pareció que me estaba disturbando. Después de trabajar en un cuarto por 25 años para sobrevivir como escritor en Turquía, me molestó ver escondidos por mi padre sus sentimientos más profundos en una maleta, como si escribir fuese un trabajo para ser hecho en secreto, lejos de los ojos de la sociedad, el Estado, la gente. A lo mejor fue esta la principal razón para enojarme con mi padre por no tomar tan en serio la literatura como yo. En realidad estaba enfadado con mi padre porque el no había llevado una vida como la mía, porque nunca había disputado con su vida y había pasado su vida feliz riendo con sus amigos y seres queridos. Pero una parte de mi sabía que también podía decir que no estaba tan molesto como celoso, esa segunda palabra se ajustaba más y esto también me hacia sentir incómodo. Cómo sería cuando me preguntara a mí mismo en el usual modo resentido, con voz de enfado, ¿qué es la felicidad? Era la felicidad pensar que había llevado una vida profunda en el cuarto solitario, o era la felicidad llevar una vida más confortable en sociedad, creyendo en las mismas cosas que todos los demás o actuado como si creyera. Era felicidad o infelicidad ir por la vida escribiendo en secreto, pareciendo estar en armonía con todo lo que me rodea. Estas sólo eran preguntas excesivamente enfermas de mal temperamento. ¿De dónde me venía la idea de la medida de una buena vida hallada en la felicidad? La gente, los papeles, todos actuaban como si la más importante medida de la vida fuese la felicidad. ¿No sugería esto por si solo que valía la pena encontrar que era verdad lo exactamente opuesto? Después de todo mi padre había huido de su familia muchas veces. ¿Qué tan bien lo conocía, y qué tanto podría decir que entendía su molestia? Esto era lo que me movía cuando recién abrí la maleta de mi padre. Tenía mi padre un secreto, una infelicidad en su vida de la que no yo no sabía nada sólo resistida por él de ponerla por escrito. Tan pronto como abrí la maleta recordé su esencia de viaje, reconocí varias libretas vistas antes cuando mi padre me las mostró años atrás sin extenderse mucho en ellas. Muchas de las libretas que tomé en mis manos las había llenado cuando nos dejó para ir

de joven a París. Mientras admiraba muchos escritores-escritores cuyas biografías había leído- deseaba conocer qué había escrito mi padre, qué había pensado a la edad que yo tengo ahora. No me tardé mucho tiempo en saber que no encontraría nada de esto allí. Lo que más me molestó fue encontrar la voz de un escritor en las libretas de mi padre. No era la voz de mi padre, me dije, o era auténtica, o por lo menos no pertenecía al hombre al que conocía como mi padre. Debajo de mi temor de que tal vez mi padre no era mi padre cuando escribía había un temor más profundo, el temor de cómo bien adentro yo no era auténtico, de no encontrar nada bueno en los escritos de mi padre, esto incrementó el temor de descubrir una excesiva influencia de otros escritores en mi padre y me sumergió en una zozobra que me había afligido mucho cuando joven poniendo mi vida, mi propio ser, mi deseo de escribir y mi trabajo en cuestión. Durante mis primeros diez años como escritor sentí esas ansiedades en mayor grado, incluso cuando las rehuía en algunas ocasiones temí que un día habría de asumir la derrota- tal como lo había hecho con la pintura y sucumbir ante la molestia y dejar de escribir novelas también. Ya he mencionado dos sentimientos esenciales aflorados en mí cuando cerré la maleta de mi padre y la hice a un lado: la sensación de estar en una isla desierta en provincia y de carecer autenticidad. No era ésta la primera vez que se hacían sentir estas sensaciones. Por años en mis lecturas y escritura he estado estudiando, descubriendo y profundizando emociones en todas sus variedades y sin intencionadas consecuencias, sus finales nervios, sus detonadores y sus muchos colores. Ciertamente mi espíritu ha sido herido por las confusiones, las sensibilidades y los efímeros dolores que la vida y los libros han hecho brotar en mí, claro, mucho más frecuente cuando joven. Aunque sólo escribiendo libros entendí los problemas de la autenticidad ( Mi nombre es rojo y El libro negro) y los problemas de una vida desde la periferia ( Nieve y Estambul), para mi ser escritor es reconocer la heridas secretas cargadas dentro de nosotros, heridas tan ocultas que apenas tenemos conocimiento de ellas y exploramos con paciencia, las conocemos, las iluminamos para poseer estos dolores y heridas, para hacerlas partes concientes de nuestros espíritus y escritura. Un escritor habla de cosas sabidas por todos pero que él no sabe que saben. Explorar este conocimiento y verlo crecer es placentero, el lector visita así un mundo familiar y desconocido al tiempo. Cuando un escritor se encierra en un cuarto con el fin de hospedar su trabajo y crear un mundo, si usa heridas secretas como punto de partida, él está, independiente de si lo sabe, poniendo gran fe en la humanidad. Mi confianza viene de la creencia en que todos los seres humanos se parecen, en que otros cargan heridas como yo y por esto entenderán. Toda literatura verdadera emana de la esperanzadora certeza infantil de ser todos semejantes.

Cuando un escritor se encierra en un cuarto por años su gesto sugiere una humanidad solitaria, un mundo sin centro. Pero como se ve a cerca de la maleta de mi padre y la paleta de colores de nuestras vidas en Estambul, el mundo tenía un centro lejos de nosotros. En mis libros describo con cierto detalle cómo este hecho evocaba un sentido checoslovaco de provincialismo y cómo por otro camino esto me llevó a cuestionar mi autenticidad. Sé por experiencia que la mayoría de la gente en la tierra vive con los mismos sentimientos y muchos sufren de peores insuficiencias, carencias de seguridad y sensación de degradación que los que yo sufro. Sí, los más grande dilemas de la humanidad siguen siendo el destierro, la indigencia y el hambre, pero la televisión y los periódicos nos hablan de todo de manera más simple y rápida de lo que la literatura jamás lo hará. Lo que más necesita decir e investigar la literatura son los miedos básicos de la humanidad: el temor de ser excluido, de no contar para nada y los sentimientos de insignificancia acompañantes de tales miedos, las humillaciones colectivas, vulnerabilidades, insultos, lamentaciones, sensibilidades e insultos imaginados, el regocijo nacionalista y las inflaciones son sus más cercanos como especie. Como sea que me encuentro con tales sentimientos, con el leguaje irracional y vulgar en que se expresan usualmente, sé de ellos tocándome en mi oscuridad interior. Hemos visto con frecuencia personajes, sociedades y países fuera del mundo occidental- me puedo identificar con facilidad con ellos- sucumbiendo a los miedos que los han llevado a cometer estupideces, todo por temores de humillación y sensibilidades. Sé también cómo en Occidente- un mundo con el que también me puedo identificar con facilidad- hay naciones y personas enorgullecidas en demasía por sus riquezas, en habernos traído el Renacimiento, la Ilustración y el Modernismo, que de tiempo en tiempo han sucumbido a una autosatisfacción casi estúpida. Esto significa que mi padre no era el único, pues todos damos mucha importancia a la idea de un mundo con un centro. La razón que nos compele a escribir en un cuarto indefinidamente es la fe en lo opuesto, la creencia de un día en que nuestros textos serán leídos y entendidos porque la gente en todo el mundo se asemeja. Esto lo sé por mí y por los escritos de mi padre y es un optimismo complicado, destruido por la rabia de ser dejado al margen, de ser excluido. El amor y el odio sentido por Dostoyevsky hacia Occidente toda su vida también lo he sentido en muchas ocasiones. He atrapado un verdad esencial: si tengo razones pare mi optimismo es por que he viajo con éste gran escritor a través de su relación de amor y odio con Occidente para considerar el otro mundo construido por él, construido en otro lado. Todos los escritores que han dedicado su vida a esta tarea conocen la realidad: el propósito original del mudo creado por nosotros después de años y años de escritura esperanzada, al final se moverá a otros lugares distintos. Nos llevará lejos de la mesa en

que hemos trabajado con tristeza y rabia, nos llevara al otro lado de la tristeza y la rabia, en otro mundo. ¿Pudo mi padre llegar a tal mundo? Como la tierra que lentamente toma forma, alzándose lentamente desde la niebla con todos sus colores como una isla después de un largo viaje en el mar, éste mundo nos encanta. Estamos tan fascinados como los viajeros occidentales quienes viajan desde el Sur hasta observar Estambul alzarse desde la niebla. Al final del viaje iniciado con esperanza y curiosidad yace enfrente una ciudad de mezquitas y alminares, una combinación de casas, calles, montañas, puentes y colinas, un mundo entero. Viéndolo deseamos entrar en él y perdernos como dentro de un libro. Después de sentarnos a la mesa nos sentimos provincianos, excluidos, marginales, furiosos, profundamente melancólicos, encontramos un mundo completo más allá de estos sentimientos. Siento ahora lo opuesto a lo que sentí de niño y de joven: para mí el centro del mundo es Estambul. No solo porque allí viví toda mi vida sino porque por los pasados 33 años he narrado sus calles, puentes, su gente, perros, casas, mezquitas, fuentes, sus héroes extraños, tiendas, personajes famosos, puntos negros, sus noches y días, haciéndolos parte de mí, abrazándolos. Llegó un momento en que el mundo hecho con mis propias manos existía sólo en mi cabeza y era más real que la misma ciudad en que vivía. Fue cuando todas estas personas y la calle, los objetos y los edificios parecían hablar entre ellos y comenzar a actuar en formas no anticipadas como si no vivieran sólo para mi imaginación o mis libros sino para ellas mismas. Este mundo creado por mí como un hombre cavando un pozo con una aguja se verá entonces más verdadero que cualquier otra cosa. Mi padre también pudo haber descubierto este tipo de felicidad durante sus años de escritura. Pensé mientras atisbaba la maleta de mi padre que no debía prejuzgarlo. Estaba muy agradecido con él después de todo: nunca había sido mandón, prohibitorio, abusador de su poder, castigador, ni un padre ordinario, pero un padre que siempre me dio libertad y me mostró el máximo respeto. Con frecuencia he pensado que si de vez en cuando pude representar cosas en mi imaginación en libertad o infantilidades fue sólo porque a diferencia de muchos de mis amigos de infancia y juventud no tenía miedo de mi padre; he creído alguna veces que pude ser un escritor porque mi padre en su juventud había deseado serlo también. A él lo tuve que leer con tolerancia-buscando entender lo escritor por él en los cuartos de los hoteles. Fue con estos pensamientos esperanzadores que caminé hacia donde mi padre había dejado la maleta, valiéndome de mi poder de voluntad leí algunos manuscritos y libretas, ¿sobre qué había escrito mi padre? Recordé algunas vistas desde las ventanas de los hoteles parisinos, uno pocos poemas, paradojas, análisis…. Mientras escribo me siento como alguien que recién ha tenido un accidente automovilístico y trata de recordar cómo sucedido al tiempo que teme recordar demasiado.

Cuando era chico y mis padres estaban al borde de una pelea –cuando caían en un silencio fatal- mi padre encendía el radio para cambiar la atmósfera y que la música nos hiciera olvidar rápido. Déjenme cambiar la atmósfera con unas pocas dulces palabras que espero sirvan tan bien como la música. Como ustedes saben, la pregunta hecha con frecuencia a nosotros los escritores, la pregunta favorita es: ¿por qué escribe? Escribo porque tengo una innata necesidad de escribir, escribo porque no puedo hacer un trabajo normal como otras personas. Escribo porque quiero leer libros como los míos. Escribo porque estoy disgustado con ustedes y todos. Escribo porque amo estar en un cuarto todo el día escribiendo. Escribo porque sólo puedo tomar parte en la vida real cambiándola. Escribo porque quiero que otros, todos nosotros, el mundo entero, sepan qué tipo de vida hemos vivido nosotros y aún vivimos en Estambul, en Turquía. Escribo porque amo el olor del papel, la pluma y la tinta. Escribo porque creo en la literatura, en el arte de la novela más de lo que creo en otras cosas. Escribo porque es un hábito, una pasión. Escribo porque tengo miedo de ser olvidado. Escribo porque quiero la gloria y el interés que trae la escritura. Escribo para estar solo. Escribo tal vez para saber por qué estoy tan, tan, tan molesto con todos ustedes. Escribo porque me gusta ser leído. Escribo porque una vez he comenzado a escribir una novela, un ensayo, una página, quiero terminarla. Escribo porque todos esperan que escriba. Escribo porque tengo la infantil creencia en la inmortalidad de las librerías y en la manera en que mis libros yacen en los entrepaños. Escribo porque es excitante poner en palabras toda la belleza y riqueza de la vida. Escribo no para contar una historia sino para componer una. Escribo porque deseo escapar de la premonición de un lugar al que debo ir – como en un sueño- pero al que no me puedo si quiera acercar. Escribo porque nunca he podido ser feliz. Escribo para ser feliz. Una semana después de venir a mi oficina y dejar la maleta mi padre vino de nuevo, como siempre me trajo una barra de chocolate, (había olvidado que yo tenía 48 años), como siempre reímos y hablamos sobre la vida, la política y los chismes familiares. Llegó un momento en que los ojos de mi padre fueron a parar a la esquina donde había dejado su maleta y vio que la había corrido. Nos miramos a los ojos, luego sobrevino un silencio opresivo. No le dije que había abierto la maleta y tratado de leer su contenido, en vez de eso miré hacia otro lado. Pero el comprendió, tal como yo entendí que el había entendido. Pero está comprensión sólo duro uno segundos porque mi padre era feliz, un hombre fácil de llevar con fe en sí mismo: él me sonrió como siempre. Cuando se iba de mi casa me repitió todas las amorosas e inspiradoras cosas que siempre me decía como padre. Como siempre lo vi irse envidiando su felicidad y despreocupación e imperturbable temperamento. Recuerdo aquel día hubo un rayo de felicidad dentro de mí, que me avergonzó, producido por el pensamiento de no estar tal vez tan cómodo en la vida como él, de pronto no había vivido tan feliz y libre como él, pero me había dedicado a la escritura- me avergonzaba pensar así a costa de mi padre.

De todas la persona mi padre nunca fue la fuente de mi dolor porque me dejó libre. Todo esto debe recordarnos que la escritura y la literatura están íntimamente vinculadas con una falta de centro en nuestras vidas y nuestros sentimientos de felicidad y culpa. Con todo mi historia tiene una simetría que inmediatamente me recordó algo ese día y me produjo un sentimiento de culpa más profundo. Veintitrés años antes que mi padre me dejara su maleta y cuatro años antes de decidir a la edad de veintidós convertirme en novelistas y abandonar lo demás para encerrarme en un cuarto terminé mi primera novela Cevdet Bey e hijos. Con manos temblorosas le había pasado las cuartillas de la novela inédita a mi padre para que me diera su opinión, no sólo porque confiaba en su gusto e intelecto: su opinión era muy importante porque él, al contrario de mi madre no se había opuesto a mi deseo de convertirme en escritor. Para entonces mi padre no estaba con nosotros, se había ido. Espere pacientemente su regreso. Cuando llegó dos semanas después corrí a abrir la puerta. Mi padre no dijo nada, pero de inmediato tiró sus manos sobre mi de una manera en que me decía que le había gustado mucho la novela. Durante un rato estuvimos con el extraño silencio que siempre acompaña grandes momentos emotivos, entonces nos calmamos y comenzamos a hablar y mi padre volvió con sus cargados y exagerados comentarios para expresar su confianza en mí o mi primera novela, me dijo que un día ganaría el premio que estoy recibiendo acá con gran felicidad. No decía esto porque estuviera tratando de convencerme de su buena opinión o por poner el premio como una meta, lo decía como un padre turco apoyando a su hijo diciendo: “Un día te convertirás en un pasha”. Por años cuando me vía replicaba su apoyo con las mismas palabras. Mi padre murió en diciembre de 2002. Hoy parado acá ante la Academia Sueca y los distinguidos miembros que me otorgaron el premio, el gran honor y los distinguidos invitados deseo fervientemente que él pudiera estar acá.

“Implied writer” (El autor implícito) I HAVE BEEN WRITING FOR THIRTY YEARS. I have been reciting these words for some time now. I've been reciting them for so long, in fact, that they have ceased to be true: for now I am entering my thirty-first year as a writer. I do still like saying that I've been writing novels for thirty years. Though this is a bit of an exaggeration. From time to time, I do other sorts of writing--essays, criticism, reflections on Istanbul or politics, and speeches for wonderful events like this. But my true vocation, the thing that binds me to life, is writing novels. There are plenty of brilliant writers who've been writing much longer than I, who've been writing for half a century without paying this much attention. There are also the great writers to whom I return again and again, Leo Tolstoy,

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Thomas Mann, whose careers spanned more than fifty years. So why do I make so much of my own thirtieth anniversary as a writer? I do so because I wish to talk about writing, and most particularly novel-writing, as a habit. In order to be happy, I must have my daily dose of literature. In this I am no different from the patient who must take a spoon of medicine each day. When I learned, as a child, that diabetics needed an injection every day, like most people, I felt bad for them; I may even have thought of them as half dead. My dependence on literature must make me "half dead" in the same way. When I was a young writer, especially, I sensed that others saw me as "cut off from the real world" and so doomed to be "half dead." Or perhaps the right expression is "half ghost." I have sometimes even entertained the thought that I was fully dead and trying to breathe life back into my corpse with literature. For me, literature is medicine. Like the medications that others take by spoon or injection, my daily dose of literature--my daily fix, if you will--must meet certain standards. First, the medicine must be good. Its goodness is what tells me how true and strong it is. To read a dense, deep passage in a novel, to enter into that world and believe it to be true-nothing makes me happier, nothing binds me more to life. I also prefer it if the writer is dead, because then there is no little cloud of jealousy to darken my admiration. The older I get, the more convinced I am that the best books are by dead writers. Even if they are not yet deceased, to sense their presence is to sense a ghost. This is why, when we see great writers in the street, we treat them like ghosts, not quite believing our eyes as we marvel from afar. A few brave souls approach the ghosts for autographs. Sometimes I remind myself that these writers will die soon, and that once they are dead, the books that are their legacy will occupy an even higher place in our hearts. Though of course this is not always the case ... If my daily dose of literature is something I myself am writing, it's all very different. Because for those who share my affliction, the best cure of all, and the greatest source of happiness, is to write a good half page every day. For thirty years I've spent an average of ten hours a day alone in a room, sitting at my desk. If you count only the work that is good enough to be published, my daily average is a good deal less than half a page a day. Most of what I write does not meet my own standards of "goodness." These, I put to you, are two large sources of misery. But please don't misunderstand me: a writer who is as dependent on literature as I am can never be the sort of superficial person who will find happiness in the beauty of the books he has already written, nor can he congratulate himself on how many books he has written or what these books achieved. Literature does not allow such a writer to pretend to save the world; rather, it gives him the chance to save the day. And all days are difficult. Days are difficult when you don't do any writing. They're difficult when you cannot do any writing. The point is to find enough hope to get through the day and,

if the book or the page he is reading is good, to find joy in it, and happiness, if only for a day. Let me explain what I feel on a day when I've not written well, if I'm not lost in a book. First, the world changes before my eyes: it becomes unbearable, abominable; those who know me can see it happening to me, too, for I myself come to resemble the world I see around me. For example, my daughter can tell that I have not written well that day from the abject hopelessness on my face in the evening. I would like to be able to hide this from her, but I cannot. During these dark moments, I feel as if there is no line between life and death. I don't want to speak to anyone, and anyone seeing me in this state has no desire to speak to me either. A milder version of this despair descends on me every afternoon, in fact, between one and three, but I have learned how to treat it by reading and writing: if I act promptly, I can save myself from a full retreat to my corpse. If I've had to go a long stretch without my paper-and-ink cure, be it due to travel, an unpaid gas bill, military service (as was once the case), political affairs (as has been the case more recently), or any number of other obstacles, I can feel my misery setting inside me like cement. My body has difficulty moving through space, my joints get stiff, my head turns to stone, my perspiration even seems to have another smell. This misery can only grow, for life is full of punishments that distance a person from literature. I can be sitting in a crowded political meeting, or chatting with my classmates in a school corridor, or eating a holiday meal with my relatives, struggling to converse with a goodhearted person whose mind is worlds away or else occupied by whatever is happening on the TV screen: I can be at an important "business meeting," making an ordinary purchase, making my way to the notary, or having my picture taken for a visa--suddenly my eyelids will grow heavy, and though it is the middle of the day, I'll fall asleep. When I am far away from home, and therefore unable to return to my room to spend time alone, my only consolation is a nap in the middle of the day. So yes, the real hunger here is not for literature, but for a room where I can be alone and dream. If I can do this, I can invent beautiful dreams about those same crowded places, those family gatherings, school reunions, festival meals, and all the people who attend them. I enrich the crowded holiday meals with invented details and make the people themselves even more amusing. In dreams, of course, everything and everyone is interesting, captivating, and real. I make the new world from the stuff of the known world. Here we come to the heart of the matter. To write well, I must first be bored to distraction; to be bored to distraction, I must enter into life. It is when I am bombarded with noise, sitting in an office full of ringing phones, surrounded by friends and loved ones on a sunny seashore or at a rainy funeral--in other words, at the very moment when I begin to sense the heart of the scene unfolding around me--that I will suddenly feel as if I'm no longer really there, but watching from the sidelines. I'll begin to daydream. If I'm feeling pessimistic, I can think about how bored I am. Either way, there will be a voice inside me, urging me to "go back to the room and sit down at the table." I have no

idea what most people do in such circumstances, but it is this that turns people like me into writers. My guess is that it leads not to poetry but to prose and fiction. This sheds a bit more light on the properties of the medicine I must be sure to take every day. We can see now that its ingredients are boredom, real life, and the life of the imagination. The pleasure I take in this confession, and the fear I feel when speaking honestly about myself--together, they lead me to a serious and important insight that I would now like to share with you. I would like to propose a simple theory that begins with the idea that writing is a solace, even a remedy, at least for novelists like me: we choose our subjects, and shape our novels, to suit our daily daydream requirements. A novel is inspired by ideas, passions, furies, and desires--this we all know. To please our lovers, to belittle our enemies, to speak of something we adore, to delight in speaking knowledgeably of something about which we know nothing, to take pleasure in times lost and remembered, to dream of making love, or reading, or engaging with politics, to indulge in one's particular worries, one's personal habits--these and any number of other obscure or even nonsensical desires are what shape us, in ways both clear and mysterious. These same desires drive the daydreams of which we speak. We may not understand where they come from, and we may not understand what our daydreams signify, but when we sit down to write, it is our daydreams that breathe life into us like a wind from an unknown quarter. One might even say that we surrender to this mysterious wind like a captain who has no idea where he's bound.... But at the same time, in one part of our minds, we can pinpoint our location on the map exactly, just as we can remember the point toward which we are traveling. Even at those times when I surrender unconditionally to the wind, I am able, at least according to some other writers I know and admire, to retain my general sense of direction. Before I set out, I will have made plans, divided the story I wish to tell into sections, determined what ports my ship will visit, what loads it will carry and drop off along the way, estimated the time of my journey, and charted its course on the map. But if the wind, having blown in from unknown quarters and filled my sails, decides to change the course of my story, I will not fight it. For what the ship with full sails seeks is a feeling of wholeness and perfection. It is as if I am looking for that special place and time in which everything flows into everything else, everything is linked, and everything is aware of everything else. All at once, the wind will die away and I will find myself becalmed in a place where nothing moves. I'll sense that there are things in these calm and misty waters that will, if I am patient, move the novel forward.... What I most long for is the sort of spiritual inspiration I described in my novel Snow. It is not dissimilar to the sort of inspiration Coleridge described in his poem "Kubla Khan." I also long for inspiration to come to me (as poems do to Coleridge and to Ka, Snow's hero) in dramatic ways, preferably in scenes and situations that might sit well in a novel. If I wait patiently and attentively, my dream comes true. To write a novel is to be open to these desires, winds, and inspirations, to the dark recesses of our minds and their moments of mist and stillness.

For what is a novel but a story that fills its sails with these winds, that answers and builds upon inspirations that blow in from unknown quarters and seizes upon all the daydreams we've invented for our diversion, bringing them together into a meaningful whole--a story? Above all, a novel is a basket that carries inside it a dreamworld we wish to keep forever alive, and forever ready. Novels are held together by the little pieces of daydreams that help us, from the moment we enter them, forget the tedious world we long to escape. The more we write, the richer these dreams become; and the more we write, that second world inside the basket becomes broader, more detailed, more complete. We come to know this world through writing, and the better we know it, the easier it is to carry it around in our heads. If I am in the middle of a novel and writing well, I can enter easily into its dreams. For novels are new worlds into which we enter happily through reading, or even more by writing: novelists shape them in such a way that they can carry the dreams they wish to elaborate, and with great ease. Just as they offer happiness to the good reader, so, too, do they offer the good writer a solid and sound new world in which he can lose himself and seek happiness at any hour of the day. If I've been able to create even a tiny part of this miraculous world, I feel happy the moment I reach my desk, my pen, and my paper. In no time at all I can leave behind the familiar, boring world of the everyday and step into this other, bigger place to wander freely, and most of the time I have no desire to return to real life or to reach the end of the novel. This feeling is, I think, related to the good reader's response upon hearing that I am writing a new novel: "Please make your novel really long!" I am proud to boast that I hear this a thousand times more often than the bad publisher's entreaty: "Make it short!" How is it that a habit made from a single person's joys and pleasures can produce a work that interests so many others? Readers of My Name Is Red like to recall Sekure's remarks to the effect that trying to explain everything is a sort of idiocy. My own sympathies in this scene are not with Orhan, my little hero and namesake, but the mother who is gently poking fun at him. But if you will permit me to commit another idiocy, and act like Orhan, I'd like to try to explain why dreams that work as medicine for the writer can serve the same purpose for the reader: because if I am entirely inside the novel and writing well--if I have distanced myself from the ringing phone, from all the troubles and demands and tedium of everyday life--the rules by which my freefloating heaven operates recall the games I played as a child. It is as if everything has become simpler, as if I am in a simpler world where I can see into every house, car, ship, and building because they are all made of glass, because they have begun to tell me their secrets. My job is to divine the rules and listen: to watch with pleasure the goings-on in each interior, to step into cars and buses with my heroes and to travel about Istanbul, visiting places that have come to bore me to tears and seeing them with new eyes, and in so doing, transforming them; my job is to have fun, be irresponsible, because while I'm amusing myself (as we like to say of children), I might just learn something.

An imaginative novelist's greatest virtue is his ability to forget the world in the way a child does, to be irresponsible and delight in it, to play around with the rules of the known world--but at the same time to see through his freewheeling flights of fancy to the deep responsibility that will later allow readers to lose themselves entirely in his novel. He might be spending the whole day playing, but at the same time he carries the deepest conviction that he is more serious than others. This is because he can be looking directly into the center of things the way that only children can. Having found the courage to set rules for the games he once played freely, he senses that his readers will also allow themselves to be drawn into the same rules, the same language, the same sentences, and therefore the story. To write well is to allow the reader to say, "I was going to say the same thing myself, but I couldn't allow myself to be that childish." This world I explore and create and enlarge, making up the rules as I go, waiting for my sails to fill with a wind from an unknown quarter and poring over my map--it is born of childlike innocence that is at times closed to me. This happens to all writers. A point arrives when I get stuck, or I will go back to the point in the novel where I've left off some time before and find that I am unable to pick it up again. Such afflictions are commonplace, and I may suffer from them less than other writers: if I can't pick up where I left off, I can always turn instead to another gap in the novel; because I've studied my map very carefully, I can begin writing in another section of the novel. This is not so important. But this autumn, while I was grappling with various political matters and running into the same problem, I felt as if I'd discovered something that also casts light on novel-writing. Let me try to explain what I mean. The case that was brought against me, and the political quandaries inside which I then found myself, turned me into a far more "political," "serious," and "responsible" person than I wanted to be. A sad state of affairs, and an even sadder state of mind--let me say it with a smile. This was why I was unable to enter into that childlike innocence without which no novel is possible ... but this was easy to understand, it didn't surprise me. As the events slowly unfolded, I would tell myself that my fast-vanishing "spirit of irresponsibility," my childish sense of play and childish sense of humor, would one day return, and that I would then be able to finish the novel I'd been working on for three years. Nevertheless, I would still get up every morning, long before Istanbul's other ten million inhabitants, and try to enter into the novel that was sitting unfinished in the silence of midnight. I was exerting myself because I so longed to get back into my beloved second world. After exerting myself greatly, I'd begin to pull bits of the novel I wished to write from my head, and I'd see them playing themselves out before me. But these were not from the novel I was writing--they were scenes from an entirely different novel. On those tedious, joyless mornings, what passed before my eyes was not the novel on which I'd been working for three years but an ever-growing body of scenes, sentences, characters, and strange details from some other novel. After a while, I began to set down the fragments of this other novel in a notebook, and I noted down thoughts that I had never before entertained. This other novel would be about the paintings of a deceased contemporary artist. As I conjured up this painter, however, I found myself

thinking just as much about his paintings. After a while longer, I understood why I'd been unable to recapture the child's spirit of irresponsibility during those tedious days. I could no longer return to childishness, I could only return to my childhood, to the days when (as I described in Istanbul) I dreamed of becoming an artist and spent my days doing one painting after another. Later on, the case against me was dropped, and I returned to The Museum of Innocence, the novel on which I had already spent three years. Today I am planning this other novel that came to me scene by scene during those days when, unable to return to childishness, I returned instead to the passions of my childhood. But this experience taught me something important about the mysterious art of writing novels. I can explain this by taking "the implied reader"--a principle put forward by the great literary critic and theorist Wolfgang Iser--and twisting it to my own ends. Iser created a brilliant reader-oriented literary theory. He said that a novel's meaning resides not in the text, nor in its context, but somewhere between the two. He argues that a novel's meaning emerges only as it is read, and so when he speaks of the implied reader, he is assigning him or her a special role. When I was dreaming up the scenes, sentences, and details of another book, instead of continuing the novel I was already writing, it was this theory that came back into my mind, and what it suggested to me was this: for every unwritten but dreamed and planned novel (in other words, my own unfinished novel), there must be an implied author. So I would only be able to finish that book when I'd become that book's implied author. But when I was immersed in political affairs, or--as happens so often in the course of normal life--my thoughts were too often interrupted by unpaid gas bills, ringing telephones, and family gatherings, I was unable to become the author implied by the book in my dreams. During those long and tedious days of politicking, I could not become the implied author of the marvelous book I longed to write. Then those days passed, and I returned to my novel, just as I had so longed to do, and whenever I think how close I am to finishing it, I feel happy, too (the novel is a love story that takes place between 1975 and the present, among the rich of Istanbul or, as the papers like to call it, "Istanbul society"). But having come through this experience, I have understood why, for thirty years, I have devoted all my strength to becoming the implied author of the books I long to write. This may be important to me because I only want to write big, thick, ambitious novels, and because I write so very slowly. It is not difficult to dream a book. I do this a lot, just as I spend a great deal of time imagining myself as someone else. The difficult thing is to be your dream book's implied author. But let's not complain. Having published seven novels, I can safely say that, even if it takes some effort, I am able to become the author who can write the books in my dreams. Just as I've written books and left them behind me, so, too, have I left behind me the ghosts of the writers who could write those books. All seven of these implied authors resemble me, and over the past thirty years they have come to know life and the

world as seen from Istanbul, as seen from a window like mine, and because they know this world inside out and are convinced by it, they can describe it with all the seriousness and responsibility of a child at play. My greatest hope is to be able to write novels for another thirty years, and to use this excuse to wrap myself up in other new personas.

“In Kars and Frankfurt” By Orhan Pamuk Translated by Maureen Freely It is a great pleasure to be in Frankfurt, the city where Ka, the hero of my novel, Snow, spent the last fifteen years of his life. My hero is a Turk and therefore no relation of Kafka’s; they are related only in the literary sense of the word. I shall be saying more about literary relations later on. Ka’s real name was Kerim Alakuşoğlu, but he was not very fond of it, so he preferred the shorter version. He first came to Frankfurt in the 1980s as a political refugee. He was not particularly interested in politics - he didn’t even like politics: his whole life is poetry. My hero was a poet living in Frankfurt. He saw Turkish politics as someone else might see an accident – something that he got mixed up in without ever willing it. I would, if I have enough time, like to say a few

words about politics and accidents. It is a subject about which I have thought a great deal. But do not worry: though I write long novels, today I shall keep my comments brief.

It was in the hope that I might describe Ka’s stay in Frankfurt during the eighties and early nineties without making too many mistakes that I came here five years ago, in the year 2000. Two people in the audience today were particularly generous in their help, and it was while they were showing me around that we visited the little park behind the old factory buildings near Gutleustrasse where my hero would spend the last years of his life. To better imagine the walk Ka made each morning from his home to the City Library1 where he spent most of his days, we walked through the square in front of the station, down Kaiserstrasse, past the sex shops and the Turkish greengrocers, barbers and kebab restaurants of Munchenerstrasse as far as Clocktower Square 2, passing just in front of the church where we are gathered today. We went into the Kaufhof where Ka bought the coat he would wear so happily for so many years. For two days, we roamed around the old, poor neighbourhoods where Frankfurt’s Turks have made their homes, visiting their mosques, kebab restaurants, community associations, and coffeehouses. This was my seventh novel but I recall taking such needlessly extensive notes that I might as well have been a novice, writing my first novel and agonising over every detail. Asking questions like, did the tram really pass this corner during the eighties….

I did the same thing when I visited Kars, the small city in the northeast of Turkey where most of my novel takes place. Because I knew very little about this city, I visited it many times before using it as my setting; during my stays there, I met many people and made many friends; I explored the city street by street and shop by shop. I visited the most remote and forgotten neighbourhoods of this, Turkey’s most remote and forgotten city, conversing with the unemployed men who spent their days in coffeehouses, without even the hope of ever again finding jobs, conversing, too, with lycee students, the plainclothes and uniformed policemen who followed me wherever I went, and the publishers of the newspaper whose circulation never rose above 250. My aim here is not to relate how I came to write a novel called Snow. I am using this story as a way into the subject that I am coming to understand more clearly with each new day, and that is, in my view, central to the art of the novel: the question of the ‘other,’ the ‘stranger’, the ‘enemy’ that resides inside each of our heads, or rather, the 1Please change as necessary

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question of how to transform it. That my question is not central to all novels is selfevident: a novel can, of course, advance the understanding of humankind by imagining its characters in situations that we know intimately and care about and recognise from our own experience. When we meet someone in a novel who reminds us of ourselves, our first wish is for that character to explain to us who we are. So we tell stories about mothers, fathers, houses, streets that look just like ours, and we set these stories in cities we’ve seen with our own eyes, in the countries we know best. But the strange and magic rules that govern the art of the novel can open up our families, homes, and cities in a way that makes everyone feel as if they can see their own families, homes, and cities reflected in them. It has often been said that Buddenbrooks is an excessively autobiographical novel. But when I first picked up this book as a boy of seventeen, I read it not as the author’s account of his own family - for at the time I knew very little about him; for me it was a book about a universal family which which I could easily identify. The wondrous mechanisms of the novel allow us to take our own stories and present them to all humanity as stories about someone else.

So, yes, one could define the novel as an art that allows the skilled practitioner to turn his own stories into stories about someone else; but this is just one aspect of the great and mesmerising art that has entranced so many readers and inspired us writers for going on four hundred years. It was the other aspect that drew me to the streets of Frankfurt and Kars: the chance to write of others’ lives as if they were my own. It is by doing this sort of thorough novelistic research that novelists can begin to test the lines that mark off that ‘other’ and in so doing alter the boundaries of our own identities. Others become ‘us’ and we become ‘others.’ Certainly a novel can achieve both feats simultaneously. Even as it relates our own lives as if they were the lives of others, it offers us the chance to describe other people’s lives as if they were our own. Novelists wishing to enter into the lives of other do not necessarily need to visit other streets and other cities, as I did when preparing to write Snow. Novelists wishing to put themselves in others’ shoes and identify with their pains and troubles will draw first and foremost from their imaginations. Let my try to illustrate my point with an example that will call to mind what I was saying earlier on about literary relations: ‘If I woke up one morning to find that I had turned into an enormous cockroach, what would become of me?’ Behind every great novel is an author whose greatest pleasure comes from entering another’s form and bringing it to life – whose strongest and most creative impulse is to test the very limits of his identity. If I woke up one morning to find myself transformed into a cockroach, I would need to do more than research insects: if I were to guess that everyone else in the house would be revolted and even terrified to see me scuttling across the walls and the ceilings, and that even my own mother and father would hurl apples at me, I would first have to find a way to become Kafka. But before I try to imagine myself as someone else, I might have to do a little investigating. What I need to ponder most is this: who is this ‘other’ we so need to imagine?

This creature who is nothing like us addresses our most primitive hates, fears, and anxieties. We know full well that these are the emotions that fire up our imaginations and give us to power to write. So the novelist enjoying the rules of his art will feel that only good can come of identifying with this ‘other.’ The novelist will also know that thinking about this other whom everyone knows and believes to be his opposite will help to liberate him from the confines of his own persona. The history of the novel is the history of human liberation: by putting ourselves in other’s shoes, by using our imaginations to free ourselves from our own identities, we are able to set ourselves free.

So Defoe’s great novel conjures up not just Robinson Crusoe but also his slave, Friday. As powerfully as Don Quixote conjures up a knight who lives in the world of books, it also conjures up his servant Sancho Pancho. I enjoy reading Anna Karenina, Tolstoy’s most brilliant novel, as a happily married man’s attempt to imagine a woman who destroys her unhappy marriage, and then herself. Tolstoy’s inspiration was another male novelist who, though he himself never married, found his way into the mind of the discontented Madame Bovary. In the greatest allegorical classic of all time, Moby Dick, Melville explores the fears gripping the America of his day – and particularly its fear of alien cultures – through the intermediary of the white whale. Those of us who come to know the world through books cannot think of the American South without also thinking of the blacks in Faulkner’s novels. In the same way, we might feel that a German novelist who wishes to speak to all of Germany, and who fails, explicitly or implicitly, to imagine the country’s Turks along with the unease they cause, is somehow lacking. Likewise, a Turkish novelist who fails to imagine the Kurds and other minorities, and who neglects to illuminate the black spots in his country’s unspoken history, will, in my view, produce work that has a hole at its centre.

Contrary to what most people assume, a novelist’s politics have nothing to do with the societies, parties and groups to which he might belong – or his dedication to any political cause. A novelist’s politics rises from his imagination, from his ability to imagine himself as someone else. This power makes him not just a person who explores the human realities that have never been voiced before – it makes him the spokesman for those who cannot speak for themselves, whose anger is never heard, and whose words are suppressed. A novelist may (like me) have no real reason to take an interest in politics as a young man, or if he does, his motives may end up mattering very little. Today we do not read the greatest political novel of all time, Dostoyevski’s The Devils, as the author originally intended – as a polemical novel attacking Russian westernisers and nihilists; we read it instead as a novel that reflects the Russia of its day, that reveals to us the great secret locked inside the Slavic soul. This is a secret that only a novel can explore. Obviously, we cannot hope to come to grips with themes this deep merely by reading newspapers and magazines, or by watching television. To understand what is unique about the histories of other nations and other peoples, to share in unique

lives that trouble and shake us, terrifying us with their depths, and shocking us with their simplicity - these are truths we can glean only from the careful, patient reading of great novels. Let me add that when Dostoyevski’s Devils begin to whisper into the reader’s ear, telling him of a secret rooted in history, a secret born of pride and defeat, shame and anger, they are illuminating the shadows of his own history, too. Behind this recognition is a despairing writer who loves the west and despises it in equal measure, a man who cannot quite see himself as a westerner but is dazzled by the brilliance of western civilisation, who feels himself caught between the two worlds.

Here we come to the East-West question. Journalists are exceedingly fond of the term, but when I see the connotations it carries in some parts of the Western press, I’m inclined to think that it would be best not to speak of the East-West question at all. Because what it means most of the time is that the poor countries of the East should bow to everything the West and the US might happen to offer them. There is also a strong suggestion that the culture, the way of life, and the politics of places like the one where I was raised provoke tiresome questions, and an expectation that writers like me exist to offer solutions to the same tiresome questions. But of course there is an EastWest question, and it is not simply a malicious term invented and imposed by the West. The East-West question is about wealth and poverty, and about peace.

In the 19th century, when the Ottoman Empire began to feel itself overshadowed by an ever more dynamic West, suffering repeated defeats at the hands of European armies, and seeing its own power slowly wane, there emerged a group of men who called themselves the Young Turks; like the elites that would follow in later generations, not excluding the last Ottoman sultans, they were dazzled by the superiority of the west, so they embarked on a programme of westernising reforms. The same logic lies at the heart of the modern Turkish republic and Kemal Atatürk’s westernising reforms. Behind this same logic lies the conviction that Turkey’s weakness and poverty stem from its traditions, its old culture, and the various ways it has socially organised religion. Coming as I do from a middle-class, westernised Istanbul family, I must admit that I, too, sometimes succumb to this belief, which is, though well-intended, a narrow and even simple-minded way of seeing things. Westernisers dream of transforming and enriching their country and their culture by imitating the West. Because their ultimate aim is to create a country that is richer, happier, and more powerful, they can also be nativist, and – say what you will – powerfully nationalistic: certainly we can see these tendencies in the Young Turks and the westernisers of the young Turkish Republic. But as westward looking movements, they remain deeply critical of certain basic characteristics of their country and culture: though they might not do so in the same spirit and the same style as Western observers, they, too, see their culture as defective, sometimes even worthless. This gives rise to another very deep and confused emotion – shame – and I see shame reflected in some responses to my novels and to my own

perceived relations with the West. When we in Turkey discuss the East-West question, when we talk of the tensions between tradition and modernity, (which, to my mind, is what the East-West question is really all about) or when we prevaricate over our country’s relations with Europe, the question of shame is always lurking between the lines. When I try to understand this shame, I always try to link it with its opposite, pride. As we all know: wherever there is too much pride, and whenever people act too proudly, there is the shadow of the ‘other’s’ shame and humiliation. Wherever there is someone who feels deeply humiliated, we can expect to see a proud nationalism rising to the surface. My novels are made from these dark material, from this shame, this pride, this anger and this sense of defeat. Because I come from a nation that is knocking on Europe’s door, I am only too aware of how easily these fragile emotions can, from time to time, take flame and rage unchecked. What I am trying to do here is to speak of this shame as a whispered secret, as I first heard it in Dostoyevsky’s novels. For it is by sharing our secret shames that we bring about our liberation: this is what the art of the novel has taught me.

But it is at the moment of liberation that I begin to feel in my heart the complicated politics of representation, and the moral dilemmas of speaking in another’s name. This is a difficult undertaking for anyone but particularly for a novelist riddled with the fragile emotions I was just describing. The freewheeling world of the imagination can seem treacherous, and never more so than in the mirror of a prickly and easily offended novelist consumed by nationalist pride. If we keep reality secret, it will, we hope, only shame us in silence; but if a novelist uses his imagination to transform that same reality, he can fashion it into a second world that demands recognition. When a novelist begins to play with the rules that govern society, when he digs beneath the surface to discover life’s hidden geometry, when he explores that secret world like a curious child, driven by emotions he cannot quite understand, it is inevitable that he will cause his families, his friends, his peers and fellow citizen some unease. But this is a happy unease. For it is by reading novels, stories and myths that we come to understand the ideas that govern the world in which we live; it is fiction that gives us access to the truths kept veiled and hidden by our families, our schools, and our society; it is the art of the novel that allows us to ask who we really are. We have all known the joy of reading novels: we have all known the thrill of going down the path that leads into someone else’s world, and engaging with that world, body and soul, and longing to change it, as we engross ourselves in the hero’s culture, in his relationship with the objects that make up his world, in the words the author uses, in the decisions he makes and the things he notices as the story unfolds. We know that the thing we have been reading is both the product of the author’s imagination and of this world into which he has taken us. Novels are neither wholly imaginary nor wholly real. To read a novel is confront both its author’s imagination and the real world whose surface we have been scratching with such fretful curiosity. When we retire to a corner, when we lie down on a bed, when we stretch out on a divan with a novel in our hands, our imaginations travel back and forth between the world in that novel and the world in which we still live. This novel in our hands might

take us to ‘another’ world we have never visited, never seen, and never known. Or it might take us into the hidden depths of a character who seems on the surface to resemble those we know best. I am drawing attention to each of these possibilities singly because there is a vision I entertain from time to time that embraces both extremes. Sometimes, I try to conjure up, one by one, a multitude of readers hidden away in corners and nestled in their armchairs with their novels; I try also to imagine the geography of their everyday lives. Then, before my eyes, thousands, tens of thousands of readers will take shape, stretching far and wide across the streets of the city, and as they read, they dream the author’s dreams, and imagine his heroes into being, and see his world. So now these readers, like the author himself, are trying to imagine the other; they, too, are putting themselves in another’s place. These are the times when we feel humility, compassion, tolerance, pity and love stirring in our hearts: for great literature speaks not to our powers of judgment, but to our ability to put ourselves in someone else’s place. As I imagine these all these readers using their imaginations to put themselves in someone else’s place, as I conjure up their worlds, street by street, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, all across the city, a moment arrives when I realise that I am really thinking of a society, a group of people, an entire nation – say what you will – imagining itself into being. Modern societies, tribes, and nations do their deepest thinking about themselves through reading novels; through reading novels, they are able to argue about who they are; so even if we have picked up a novel hoping only to divert ourselves, and relax, and escape the boredom of everyday life, we begin, without realising, to conjure up the collectivity, the nation, the society to which we belong. This is also why novels give voice not just to a nation’s pride and joy, but also to its anger, its vulnerabilities, and its shame. It is because they remind readers of their shame, their pride, and their tenuous place in the world that novelists still arouse such anger, and what a shame it is that we still see outbursts of intolerance – that we still see books burned, and novelists prosecuted.

I grew up in a house where everyone read novels. My father had a large library and when I was a child, my father would discuss the great novelists I mentioned earlier – Mann, Kafka, Dostoyevski, and Tolstoy – the way other fathers discussed famous generals and saints. From an early age, all these novelists - these great novelists - were linked in my mind with the idea of Europe. But this is not just because I came from an Istanbul family that believed fervently in westernisation, and therefore longed, in its innocence, to believe itself and its country far more western than they really were…it was also because the the novel was one of the greatest artistic achievements to come out of Europe. The novel, like orchestral music and post-Renaissance painting, is in my opinion one of the cornerstones of European civilisation; it is what makes Europe what it is, the means by which Europe has created and made visible its nature, if there is such a thing. I cannot think of Europe without novels. I am speaking now of the novel as a way of thinking, understanding and imagining, and also as a way of imagining oneself

as someone else. In other parts of the world, children and young people first meet Europe in depth with their first ventures into novels: I was one of them. To pick up a novel and step inside Europe’s borders, to enter a new continuent, a new culture, a new civilisation - to learn, in the course of these novel explorations, to express oneself with new desire and new inspiration, and to believe, as a consequence, that one was part of Europe – this is how I remember feeling….and let us also remember that the great Russian novel, and the Latin American novel, also stem from European culture….so just to read a novel is to prove that Europe’s borders, histories, and national distinctions are in constant flux. The old Europe described in the French, Russian and German novels in my father’s library is, like the postwar Europe of my own childhood and the Europe of today, Europe, a place that is forever changing, and so, too, is our understanding of what Europe means. However, I have one vision of Europe that is constant, and that is what I shall speak of now.

Let me begin by saying that Europe is a very delicate, very sensitive question for a Turk. Here we are, knocking on your door, and asking to come in, full of high hopes and good intentions, but also feeling rather anxious and fearing rejection. I feel such things as keenly as other Turks, and what we all feel is very much akin to the ‘silent shame’ I was describing earlier. As Turkey knocks on Europe’s door, as we wait and wait and Europe makes us promises, and then forgets us, only to raise the bar – and as Europe examines the full implications of Turkey’s bid to become a full member, we’ve seen lamentable hardening of anti-Turkish sentiment in certain parts of Europe, at least amongst certain politicians. In the recent elections, when certain politicians took a political line against Turks and Turkey, I found their style just as dangerous as the political style adopted by certain politicians in my own country. It is one thing to criticise the deficiencies of the Turkish state vis a vis democracy, or to find fault with its economy; it is quite another to denigrate all of Turkish culture, or those of Turkish descent here in Germany whose lives are amongst the most difficult and impoverished in the country. As for Turks in Turkey - when they hear themselves judged so cruelly, they are reminded yet again that they are knocking on a door and waiting to be let in, and of course they feel unwelcome. The most cruel irony of all is that the fanning of nationalist anti-Turkish sentiment in Europe has provoked the coarsest of nationalist backlash inside Turkey. Those who believe in the European Union must see at once that the real choice we have to make is between peace and nationalism. Either we have peace, or we have nationalism. I think that the ideal of peace sits at the heart of the European Union and I believe that the chance of peace that Turkey has offered Europe will not, in the end, be spurned. We’ve arrived at a point where we must choose between the power of a novelist’s imagination and the sort of nationalism that condones burning his books.

Over the past few years, I have spoken a great deal about Turkey and its EU bid, and often I’ve been met with grimaces and suspicious questions. So let me answer them

here and now. The most important thing that Turkey and the Turkish people have to offer Europe and Germany, is, without a doubt, peace; it is the security and strength that will come from a Muslim country’s desire to join Europe, and this peaceful desire’s ratification. The great novelists I read as a child and a young man did not define Europe by its Christian faith but by its individuals. It was because they described Europe through heroes who were struggling to free themselves, express their creativity and make their dreams come true, that their novels spoke to my heart. Europe has gained the respect of the non-western world for the ideals it has done so much to nurture: liberty, equality, and fraternity. If Europe’s soul is enlightenment, equality and democracy, if it is to be a union predicated on peace, then Turkey has a place in it. A Europe defining itself on narrow Christian terms will, like a Turkey that tries to derive its strength only from its religion, be an inward-looking place divorced from reality, and more bound to the past than to the future. Having grown up in a westernised secular family in the European part of Istanbul, it is not at all difficult for me – or people like me - to believe in the European Union. Don’t forget, since childhood, my football team, Fenerbahçe, has been playing in the European Cup. There are millions of Turks like me, who believe heart and soul in the European Union. But what is more important is that most of today’s conservative and Muslim Turks, and with them their political representatives, want to see Turkey in the European Union, help to plan Europe’s future, dreaming it into being and helping to build it. Coming as it does after centuries of war and conflict, this gesture of friendship cannot be taken lightly, and to reject it outright would be cause for huge regret. Just as I cannot imagine a Turkey without a European prospect, I cannot believe in a Europe without a Turkish prospect.

I would like to apologise for speaking at such great length about politics.

The world to which I wish to belong is, of course, the world of the imagination. Between the ages of seven and twenty-two, my dream was to become an artist, and so I would go out into the streets of Istanbul to paint city views. As I described in my book, Istanbul, I gave up painting at the age of twenty-two and began to write novels. I now think that I wanted the same thing from painting as I did from writing: what drew me to art and literature was to leave behind this boring, dreary, hope-shattering world we all know so well, and to escape into a second world that was deeper, richer and more diverse. To achieve this other magic realm, whether I expressed myself in lines and colours as I did in my early life, or in words, I’ve had to spend long hours by myself in a room every day, imagining its every nuance. Though the consoling world I have been constructing for thirty years as I sit alone in my corner is most certainly made from the same materials as the world we all know - from what I’ve been able to see of the streets and interiors of Istanbul, Kars, and Frankfurt. But it is the imagination - the imagination of the novelist - that gives the bounded world of everyday life its particularity, its magic and its soul.

I shall close with a few words about this soul, this essence that the novelist struggles all his life to convey to his readers. Life can only be happy if we can manage to fit this strange and puzzling undertaking into a frame. For the most part, our happiness and unhappiness derive not from life itself, but from the meaning we give to it. I’ve devoted my life to trying to explore that meaning. Or to put it differently, all my life I’ve wandered through the clatter and roar of today’s chaotic, difficult, fast-moving world, thrown this way and that by life’s twists and turns, looking for a beginning, a middle, and an end…in my view, this is something that can only happen in novels….Since my novel Snow was published, every time I’ve set foot in the streets of Frankfurt, I’ve felt the ghost of Ka, the hero with whom I have more than a little in common, and I feel as if I am truly seeing the city as I have come to understand it, as if I have somehow touched its heart. Mallarme spoke the truth when he said that ‘everything in the world exists to be put into a book.’ The book best equipped to absorb everything in the world - without doubt – is the novel. The imagination – the ability to convey meaning to others – is humanity’s greatest power, and for many centuries it has found its truest voice in novels. I accept this great prize in recognition of my thirty years of loyal service to this sublime art, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.