Archive | April, 2011

The Naive and the Sentimental novelist. Orhan Pamuk

5 Apr

Understanding what happens when we write and read novels.

Novel price winner Oranh Pamuk, reveals the true nature of novels, the essentials that make a novel prevail in history and in the readers mind and heart.

I remember reading Pamuk’s novel My Name is Red and I was fascinated, by its details, by the way everything fell into place, by the way feelings and emotions were treated and conveyed.

Now through in his last book “The naive and the sentimental novelist” Pamuk offers his reflections, knowledge and sensibilities about the keys and secrets that turn a novel into something special for the reader, something real.

The book is a compilation of his conferences at Harvard Univestity ( The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, 2009) , under the same tittle.

He explores the concepts that lie beneath the art of writing a novel, to create a bond with the reader. Analyzing the factors that strike us as readers, the needs and emotions that we look forward to when reading, the reactions and unconscious feelings that arouse in the process of absorbing and understanding a novel and it’s world and characters.

He goes through the elements of the novel such as characters, landscape, atmosphere and it’s centre, one of the most interesting and difficult to carve, giving his expert novel writer’s point of view, and evaluating it’s close relation with his also expert point of view as a novel reader.

In his dissertations, he identifies two kinds of writers, which give title to this book, the naive writer and the sentimental, stating that there must be a balance between both to achieve success as a writer, to be able to create a universe as real as imaginary, with characters that are alive and emotions that stun the reader.

Let us use the word “naive” to describe this type of sensibility, this type of novelist and novel reader – those who are not at all concerned with the artificial aspects of writing and reading a novel. And let us use the term “reflective” to describe precisely the opposite sensibility: in other words, the readers and writers who are fascinated by the artificiality of the text and its failure to attain reality, and who pay close attention to the methods used in writing novels and to the way our mind works as we read. Being a novelist is the art of being both naive and reflective at the same time.
PAMUK, ORHAN . The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist. Faber and Faber.London. 2010. pag.13

Carried out in an informal and didactic tone his lectures are useful and really interesting for those who appreciate the art of writing. He uses worldwide known examples and quotes other authors who were also interested in the elements that affect the craft of writing. He includes, as well, his own experience, personal anecdotes and references to the creation process and development of his own novels.

Indeed a lecture highly recommended, as Pamuk’s sensibility and capability to convey his knowledge as a writer is delightful, inspiring, interesting and really useful for all those who intend on writing novels.

Rebeca Arnal