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Title: Other Colors: Essays and a Story

Author: Orhan Pamuk

Note: I’ve read most of the essays on this book, but not every single one of them.

Other Colors is a collection of non-fiction pieces and a story by the Turkish Nobel laureate, Orhan Pamuk. The book is mainly composed of literature, politics, and personal essays, including an interview and Pamuk’s Nobel Lecture.

Other Colors is a wonderful book because it shows the reader an honest portrait of Pamuk. It includes many thoughtful pieces which Pamuk has written over the years. In the section Books and Reading, Pamuk reflects on great authors such as Camus, Dostoyevsky, Kafka and Victor Hugo. The good thing about Other Colors is that there is something in there for everyone and every mood, ranging from amusing reflections on everyday life and Pamuk’s childhood, to his observations and thoughts on Europe and Istanbul.

Pamuk’s essays, especially the ones on his childhood, family and on literature, were very inspiring for me. He writes deeply about the process of writing and reading, often discussing what thoughts are in the reader’s minds and literature shapes one’s identity.

Pamuk writes in “In Kars and Frankfurt”:

“…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 by our families, our schools, and our society; it is the art of the novel that allows us to ask who we really are.”

Finally, I’d like to mention Pamuk’s Nobel Lecture, “My Father’s Suitcase”. It is one of my favorite pieces of writing by Pamuk. He writes about the pleasures of reading, and his father’s failed attempts to become a poet, and how, nevertheless, he was always encouraged by him. You can read the lecture or download it here.

The best way to know the true Pamuk is to read Other Colors, in addition to his stories, of course. Pamuk proves to be a great and sympathetic writer and literary person. His reflective essays are very true, delectable, but also sad at times.

Other Colors at Barnes and Noble

http://www.orhanpamuk.com/ and Pamuk at NobelPrize.org

Read my review of My Name is Red, also by Orhan Pamuk

NyTimes review of Other Colors

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Chinua Achebe’s classic novel, Things Fall Apart, is set in the village Umuofia in Nigeria. It is about the personal struggle of Okonkwo, the main character, to live contrary to his father’s own shameful and ignominious life. Therefore, he is often harsh toward his wives and children and tries not to show any passion or friendliness. Things Fall Apart also chronicles the colonization of Achebe’s village by European missionaries and its effect on the Igbo people.

Things Fall Apart is divided into three parts, the first two provide the reader with an insight into the cultures and tradition of Umuofia, using Igbo language for local terms. Before the missionaries arrived and introduced the Christian religion, Achebe shows that the village, although having its issues, was functional. Men of honor received their deserved rankings and the gods were respected. However, there were people who were unaccepted in the society, and others who felt baffled by things they didn’t understand, such as Okonwo’s son, Nwoye. Those were people who had a chance to at least explore their identities and feel they belonged to a society by the arrival of the missionaries.

Okonkwo, in my opinion, is a sad character because he is the type who doesn’t finally encounter a revelation in his personal journey, and in the end commits suicide. Superficially he appears as a harsh person for his fear of appearing effeminate. Although men and women had different roles in society, Okonkwo’s perception of manliness was beyond that of his village. He is haunted by his father, who died in debt and failed to provide for his family (even though a man was judged by his own achievements and not by those of his father), so Okonkwo works very hard and develops a tough attitude, often scorning his son Nwoye for what he sees as laziness. Okonkwo accomplished his wish; he showed everybody that he was unlike his father, and he gained several honors, but he was still an unhappy person.

The language of Things Fall Apart is simple but descriptive and renders beautiful imagery

“…And then came the clap of thunder. It was an angry, metallic and thirsty clap, unlike the deep and liquid rumbling of the rainy season. A mighty wind arose and filled the air with dust. Palm trees swayed as the wind combed their leaves into flying crests like strange and fantastic coiffure.”

Things Fall Apart shows that Africa is a complex continent, but also has problems like any other society (Ogbanje, or “a wicked child who is born and then dies only to re-enter its mother’s womb over and over again” and committers of dishonorable things such as suicide were cast in the Evil Forest)

Visit this BBC website to download a documentary of Chinua Achebe’s homecoming or watch it on Youtube.

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A brief introduction of the book: In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet, the fussy and sometimes inappropriate mother of the Bennet sisters, aims to have her five daughters married. The novel starts with the arrival of the wealthy Mr. Bingley to town, who has newly rented a Netherfield estate. Mrs. Bennet wants him to marry her eldest and most beautiful daughter, Jane. However, the novel centers on Elizabeth, the clever and sharp-witted second oldest sister, and her relationship with, or “first impressions” of Mr. Darcy. He is the wealthy taciturn and superficially cold friend of Bingley. Issues of wealth and class are apparent in Pride and Prejudice: The Bennets live reasonably well, whereas Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley are extremely wealthy.

Pride and Prejudice also focuses on the silly, and often funny, social behaviors of people. Jane Austen displays how people, especially females, can manipulate their acquaintances and be aggressive toward others through social gestures (such as ignoring somebody or refusing to enter one’s house) and conversation.

At their first ball in Netherfield, Mr. Darcy shows total disinterest in dancing with anybody, and Jane forms an obstinate negative impression of him from that point, not even allowing him to prove otherwise. Pride and Prejudice deals a very wise issue, which is judging people by negative thoughts on them. This is displayed through Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. Elizabeth makes the grave mistake of believing everything she hears, especially when it adds to her original opinion. Through a deceiving Mr. Wickham, Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship worsens, leading to an utterly unjust and harsh judgment of Darcy from Elizabeth, and to Elizabeth’s shameful regret for harming Darcy.

Although not my favorite of books, Pride and Prejudice is nevertheless very engaging, but it goes beyond that. Pride and Prejudice confronts very important social issues: prejudice and misunderstanding. Most of the novel is about Elizabeth’s misunderstanding of almost all of Darcy’s relationships, actions and intentions, and her prejudice toward him. He is a most pitiful character, in my opinion.

I think that throughout the novel, Darcy has been victimized by Elizabeth, the evil-intentioned Mr. Wickham, and all the people who dislike him, with the thought that he is proud. I never thought Darcy to be a vain or proud man. He is merely observant and solemn. First, Elizabeth despises him for breaking the relationship between her sister Jane and Mr. Bingley by advising Bingley to leave town, but after reading his long letter, she comes to face the truth that Jane never showed deep affection toward Mr. Bingley. This brings me to the conclusion that Mr. Darcy only cared for the happiness and best interests of his friend. After Jane learns more about him, she discovers that Darcy is a very sincere and kind man.

 

“Anyone who has gone along with the notion that the pride highlighted in the title of the novel in embodied in Darcy now has to contend with the discovery that both this quality and its pair are being attributed to Elizabeth.”

-Introduction in Oxford World Classics edition of Pride and Prejudice.

 

Regarding the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Kiera Knightley, I find it a pretty good interpretation of the book, enjoyable by readers of the book and nonreaders also. The movie wasn’t exactly accurate compared to the the book, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think that Matthew Macfadyen excellently performed the role of Mr. Darcy, making his character even more lovable. Although set in the 18th century, I felt the movie was modern. The style of the novel is formal, and I think the movie added a touch of satisfaction and fun for viewers. But to really appreciate the story, one should read the book in addition to watching the movie. One must put in mind that the movie is short, and many important scenes, such as Mr. Darcy’s letter, had to greatly shortened.

The movie did not ignore the issue of wealth. The glib Elizabeth seemed somewhat humbled and at the same time amazed as she gazed at Mr. Darcy’s extravagant paintings and sculptures at his colossal mansion, after roughly rejecting his marriage.

I must add that Mr. Collins, the man who is to inherit the Bennets’ estate, was overly caricatured. Elizabeth was not a very likable character throughout the movie. She was very mean to Mr. Darcy, and had a tendency of sticking her eyes where they shouldn’t be; but after all, she is a proud and prejudiced woman, and wasn’t meant to be admired in the novel. But she still gets a happy ending: a man with high merit, and a lot of money.

Mattew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy

"Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us."

Pride and Prejudice

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image: 101725293

Their Eyes were Watching God is a novel by the African American writer, Zora Neale Hurston. It is about a woman named Janie who becomes free after surviving three marriages, each one having its own problems. In the beginning, Janie is married to Logan Killicks when she is still a teenager by her grandmother, who thinks that the fate of black females is hopeless. She ends up living unhappily with a man who harshly tells her to work all the time. Then she marries Joe Starks, who becomes mayor of Eatonville, a black town. Although she lives a comfortable life, she is not allowed to engage in activities or talk with others and should represent the image the public wants her to see. Her third husband, Tea Cake, a confident, easy-going man, gives her more freedom as an independent person, engages in several activities with her which she would not have been able to do with her previous husbands, and takes her around the country

Their Eyes were Watching God raises several questions for the reader to think about. As the the wife of the mayor Joe Starks, her second husband, who cares only about how Janie appears in public and wants her to play a simple and docile role as a mayor’s wife, should Janie stay with him and enjoy the privilege of having a rich husband or should she leave him? In my opinion, the phonetic dialogue in the novel makes it a unique book, and really gave character to the persons in the novel.

I think that Janie finally becomes completely free and independent after her last husband Tea Cake’s death. Although Tea Cake treated her the best compared to her previous husbands and didn’t undermine her, Janie depended on him and went along with all his plans. She also worried a lot whenever he used to return home late. However, I don’t think it would’ve been possible for Janie to become fully independent without Tea Cake, who was the one who encouraged her and showed her how to be free. I think that Tea Cake was  one of the people whom Janie had to leave to become free. The death of Tea Cake was sad, since he played a large role in Janie’s personality and experience and had good intentions toward her, but if you look at the whole picture, Janie’s motive was to be free and fully independent. If every single one of her husbands was horrible, I guess that eaving them wouldn’t have been emotionally difficult for Jane. Tea Cake was a good person whom Janie had to leave (or in this case, kill in self defense), to reach her goal. When you are on an adventure to accomplish something, you meet good people and bad people. Unfortunately, it is especially difficult to leave the good people. Janie wouldn’t have left Tea Cake on her own. She wouldn’t have been who she was had it not been for him, and he had made a final act that proves his devotion to her. To get rid of Tea Cake and be free, Janie had to be in a “had-to” situation which could cost her her life. Although Janie shall always remember Tea Cake and appreciate him, she will gladly enjoy her self-made independence. Although Tea Cake was a loving husband, who got himself bitten by a dog (later receiving Rabies which led to his illness) in order to save Janie, he was still a burden to her. After shooting him to defend herself from his mania,  she felt some regret since he risked his life for her. Janie is better off without a husband.

http://zoranealehurston.com/

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