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The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist (The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures) Hardcover – October 4, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0674050761 ISBN-10: 0674050762 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Series: The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures (Book 1970)
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; First Edition edition (October 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674050762
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674050761
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,322,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Taking his title and inspiration from Schiller's "On Naive and Sentimental Poetry," Nobel Prize–winning Turkish novelist Pamuk (The Museum of Innocence) dissects what happens when we read a novel. Making a distinction between naïve novelists, "unaware" of the novel's artificiality, and "sentimental" novelists (and readers) at the opposite end, who are "reflective," Pamuk is most interested in the "secret center" of literary novels, which is the wisdom they impart. Pamuk brings to the table firsthand knowledge regarding the centrality of character in the novel and how the novelist actually becomes the hero in the very act of writing. Readers, in their own symbiotic act of imagination, also inhabit the hero's character. And through that sense of identification with the hero's decisions and choices, Pamuk says, we learn that we can influence events. Reading novels in his youth, he writes, "I felt a breathtaking sense of freedom and self-confidence." Based on Pamuk's Norton Lectures, the book has some inevitable repetition, but is a passionate amalgam of wonder and analysis. (Nov.) (c)
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Review

Taking his title and inspiration from Schiller's On Naive and Sentimental Poetry, Nobel Prize–winning Turkish novelist Pamuk dissects what happens when we read a novel. Making a distinction between naïve novelists, "unaware" of the novel's artificiality, and "sentimental" novelists (and readers) at the opposite end, who are "reflective," Pamuk is most interested in the "secret center" of literary novels, which is the wisdom they impart. Pamuk brings to the table firsthand knowledge regarding the centrality of character in the novel and how the novelist actually becomes the hero in the very act of writing. Readers, in their own symbiotic act of imagination, also inhabit the hero's character. And through that sense of identification with the hero's decisions and choices, Pamuk says, we learn that we can influence events...[The book] is a passionate amalgam of wonder and analysis. (Publishers Weekly 2010-10-04)

Pamuk offers a striking interpretation of what goes on in the novelist's mind...In Pamuk's theory, the writing and reading of novels is one of humanity's great acts of optimism. This is what is meant by novelists and readers identifying with characters. To an extent that few other novelists can match, Pamuk is both a naive and sentimental novelist--and he desires readers who are the same way. (Anis Shivani Austin American-Statesman 2010-10-30)

Anyone who has read Pamuk's exquisite fiction will be interested in these essays on reading and the art of the novel. (William Kist Cleveland Plain Dealer 2010-12-11)

The power of Pamuk's short book lies less in his theorizing about the novel than in his professions of faith in it...Pamuk still believes that creating worlds is the novelist's real task and exploring them the best reason for reading fiction...To read in this way--almost desperately, in search of the wisdom and aid we need to navigate our own lives--often seems like a dying discipline. Pamuk's book is a reminder that, without this almost metaphysical faith, great fiction can't be truly appreciated or written. (Adam Kirsch Bookforum 2010-12-01)

A slender, strikingly handsome volume...Pamuk's nonfiction voice matches the narrating voice of his novels--grave, thoughtful, wry...His painstaking love for literature prevails. (Joan Frank San Francisco Chronicle 2010-12-12)

Pamuk's lectures are perhaps best read as a string of brilliant aperçus rather than a systematic text on the art of writing (or reading) the novel. Though respectful of past masters, Pamuk takes exception with many of their conclusions, particularly Aspects of the Novel in which E.M. Forster posits the centrality of character. Instead, argues Pamuk, it is the world in which the protagonist moves that propels the novel: this interaction draws in the reader, who finds the novel emotively true even while knowing it is fiction. Pamuk draws on his own experience as a non-Western reader of Western novels and as a writer. Pamuk does not disappoint. (David Keymer Library Journal 2010-12-01)

Supple and brilliant...One of the more formidable attempts by a practitioner to articulate a theory of the novel since E.M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel...This is an eccentric, sometimes almost solipsistic book about the novel, but it has such a dynamic sense of the life of fiction, and the way the novel makes us see the world, that it will be treasured by readers and writers. (Peter Craven Australian Literary Review 2011-03-01)

Engaging, brilliant...Pamuk's The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist is charming, self-regarding, [and] dreamy. (Janet Todd The Guardian 2011-03-12)

Pamuk goes to the heart of what a novel is, how he and others write them, and how readers read them. Anyone interested in the humanities should read this book. (W. L. Hanaway Choice 2011-05-01)

[This] recent collection of essays are the work of a writer at the height of his career. (Thomas Patrick Wisniewski World Literature Today 2011-05-01)

More About the Author

Orhan Pamuk, described as 'one of the freshest, most original voices in contemporary fiction' (Independent on Sunday), is the author of many books, including The White Castle, The Black Book and The New Life. In 2003 he won the International IMPAC Award for My Name is Red, and in 2004 Faber published the translation of his novel Snow, which The Times described as 'a novel of profound relevance to the present moment'. His most recent book was Istanbul, described by Jan Morris as 'irresistibly seductive'. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006. He lives in Istanbul.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lowry C. Pei on October 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've written seven novels and I teach creative writing, so I am always interested in what writers have to say about the art of fiction. I am also a pretty demanding reader of such thoughts. Pamuk's book is consistently fascinating, even when I disagree with his assertions that all novelists work in a certain way. He is particularly strong on what happens in the reader's mind while reading a novel, and on what he calls "the secret center" of a novel -- an attribute that I believe any writer or devoted reader will recognize. Pamuk argues that it is the hope of finding this secret center that drives both writing and reading, and I think he's absolutely right.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves novels, and especially to anyone who writes fiction, or hopes to write fiction. If more academic discourse about literature were grounded in this kind of thinking about how the art work works, the discipline called "English" would get back in touch with what made us love this stuff in the first place.
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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Peterson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006 and he was invited to give the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard in 2009. This book consists of those lectures - six chapters (or lectures), with an epilogue.

The title is unfortunate and a little misleading. It is drawn from a famous essay by Friedrich Schiller, "Uber naive and sentimentalische Dichtung", conventionally translated as "On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry" - even though the principal connotation of "sentimentalisch" in German is different than "sentimental" in English. Schiller posited two types of poets and, following his example, Pamuk refers to two models of novelist and reader - which I will reformulate as the "uncritical" and the "critical". I found most of Pamuk's discussion of the "naïve" and the "sentimental" (or "reflective") not very useful, and I believe he should have abandoned that vehicle and that title. (But then these were lectures at HARVARD.)

What the book really consists of are Pamuk's meditations on the art of the novel, comprising "all the most important things I know and have learned about the novel." Pamuk sets as his main goal "to explore the effects that novels have on their readers, how novelists work, and how novels are written." Pamuk certainly is well qualified to speak on that subject (in addition to having won the Nobel, he teaches comparative literature and writing at Columbia). Further, his perspective is rather unusual, being a self-taught novelist from a Turkish culture with a fairly weak tradition of writing and reading books.

Although the presentation is relatively informal and conversational, the book retains a whiff of the dry and academic Harvard lecture hall.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By scott89119 VINE VOICE on February 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This brief, thoroughly interesting collection of Harvard lectures is a rare insight into one of the world's great writer's feelings about his craft. Anyone who has read Pamuk's novels understands his command of language, the pictures he puts in your mind, how deeply he writes his characters, and the episodic way he advances the plot. Here, Pamuk describes how everything is intentioned that way, for the novel is an intense creation intended to be told in a certain way, revealing it's secret center to the reader that is both artistic and analogous to the complexities of life. This theme is discussed throughout the lectures, all autonomous but tied together through a shared fascination of the writing process. The continual mention of a scene in Anna Karenina is a clever framing device, and in it's example of a profound train ride Pamuk branches off to describe how he goes about working such a transitory profession. The book is always stimulating and conversational, worth many rereadings to get all the hidden gems Pamuk puts throughout. Amust for Pamuk or literary theory fans.
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