The Naïve and the Sentimentalist Novelist by Orhan Pamuk

I must confess… I did it again. I started reading a book in one language and finished it in another one with lots of swapping between the two along the way. I did it with George Elliot’s The Mill on the Floss as with Paulo Coelho’s Aleph. But this time, it’s Orhan Pamuk’s The Naïve and The Sentimentalist Novelist.

Orhan Pamuk

The problem is I’m not that comfortable with writing terminology in Turkish. All the books I read about writing so far are in English. I can safely say that I may have filled the gap a little by reading The Naïve and The Sentimentalist Novelist. And when I look back, I notice that I actually took more notes in Turkish than in English.

The book is a selection of Orhan Pamuk’s talks he delivered at Harvard as part of the Norton Lecture series and it’s about understanding what happens when we write and read novels—as it says on the cover. However, The Naïve and the Sentimentalist Novelist reveals a number of secrets of novel writing. And, that on its own is a total gem.

Before I get to the part of my highlights from the book—although it’s a bit tricky with this one as I have some highlights in Turkish and some in English—I have a list of books, plays and essays mentioned in the book.

Arabian Nights (Thousand and One Nights)
Old Masters by Thomas Bernard
The Red and The Black by Stendhal
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Ulysses by James Joyce
Swann in Love by Marcel Proust
The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
Nana by Emile Zola
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The Golden Bowl by Henry James
Confessions by Jean-Jacque Rousseau
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
The Miser by Molière
The Miraculous Years by Joseph Frank
Aspects of the Novel by E. M. Forster
Life: A User’s Manual by Georges Perec
Sentimental Journey by Laurence Sterne
The Novel as a Spectacle (essay from The Uses of Literature) by Italo Calvino
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino
Shahnameh by Ferdowsi
The Son of a Servant by August Strindberg
Sylvie by Gérard de Nerval
The Theory of the Novel by György Lukács
Three Trapped Tigers by Cabrera Infante
Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne
Naomi by Junichito Tanizaki
The Time Regulation Institute by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar

Books by Dostoyevsky:
Brothers Karamazov

Books by Lev Tolstoy:
Anna Karenina
War and Peace

Books by Charles Dickens:
Oliver Twist
David Copperfield

Books by Virginia Woolf:
The Waves
Mrs. Dalloway

Books by William Faulkner:
Old Man
The Sound and The Fury
The White Palms
As I Lay Dying

Books by Thomas Mann:
The Magic Mountain

And my highlights from the book:
I would like to reveal to you two of my beliefs, which are firm and strong, as well as contradictory. But first allow me to set the context. In 2008, I published in Turkey a novel entitled The Museum of Innocence. This novel is concerned with (among other things) the actions and feelings of a man called Kemal, who is deeply and obsessively in love. It wasn’t long before I began receiving the following question from a number of readers, who apparently thought that his love was described in a highly realistic manner: “Mr. Pamuk, did all this actually happen to you? Mr. Pamuk, are you Kemal?”
So now let me give you my two contradictory answers, both of which I believe sincerely:
1. “No, I am not my hero Kemal.”
2. “But it would be impossible for me to ever convince readers of my novel that I am not Kemal.”

I wouldn’t want these words to suggest that I hope such agreement will be reached. On the contrary, the art of the novel draws its power from the absence of a perfect consensus between writer and reader on the understanding of fiction. Readers and authors acknowledge and agree on the fact that novels are neither completely imaginary nor completely factual.

Wondering about which parts are based on real-life experience and which parts are imagined is but one of the pleasures we find in reading a novel.

To read a novel is to wonder constantly, even at moments when we lose ourselves most deeply in the book: How much of this is fantasy, and how much is real?

At the heart of the novelist’s craft lies an optimism which thinks that the knowledge we gather from our everyday experience, if given proper form, can become valuable knowledge about reality.

Eventually, we come to love certain novels because we have expended so much imaginative labour on them. This is why we hang on to those novels, whose pages are creased and dog-eared.

In order to find meaning and readerly pleasure in the universe the writer reveals to us, we feel we must search for the novel’s secret centre, and we therefore try to embed every detail of the novel in our memory, as if learning each leaf of a tree by heart.

…the task of writing a novel is to imagine a world–a world that first exists as a picture before it eventually takes the form of words. Only later do we express through words the picture we imagine, so that readers can share this product of the imagination.

To derive pleasure from a novel is to enjoy the act of departing from words and transforming these things into images in our mind.

Book Review: Outlining Your Novel by K. M. Weiland

book review outlining novel K. M. WeilandBook Review: Outlining Your Novel by K. M. Weiland

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K. M. Weiland entered my life at the right time and in the right way. The right time part is all about learning to write in an orderly fashion before I make a mess. It happens, you know, especially if you are new in this writing business. And I am new! The right way part? This is really cool: I won the book! Along with Katie’s Structuring Your Novel book. Give-aways usually don’t cover Australia but I was lucky this time. My booksarrived, smelling like strawberries and they were both signed. Jealous?

Book Review Outlining Novel K. M. Weiland

I was convinced that I would be an outliner even before I read Outlining Your Novel. It suits my personality; I am Virgo and I thrive in orderly environments. However, if I needed any further convincing or just plain reassurance, Outlining Your Novel did that, too.

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success covers:

• Benefits and misconceptions about outlining
• Choosing the right type of outline for you
• Different outlining tools
• Brainstorming ideas
• Creating and developing characters
• Organising your scenes
• Discover backstory of your characters
• Key story factors like motive, desire, goal, conflict and theme
• Character interviews
• Discovering the setting
• How to format your finished outline
• How to put your outline to use

Outlining Your Novel also includes exclusive interviews with authors like: Becky Levine, Larry Brooks, Elizabeth Spann Craig, Roz Morris, John Robinson, Jody Hedlund, Aggie Villanueva, Lisa Grace, Carolyn Kaufman and Dan L. Hays and you can the interviews at the end of each chapter. The authors answer these important questions:
• Can you describe your outlining process?
• What is the greatest benefit of outlining?
• What is the biggest potential pitfall of outlining?
• Do you recommend “pantsing” for certain situations and outlining for others?
• What’s the most important contributing factor to a successful outline?

Please note that Outlining Your Novel has a workbook (see photo below) which can be bought separately. Book Review Outlining Novel K. M. Weiland

About the Author

K. M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, as well as Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic, the western A Man Called Outlaw, the medieval epic Behold the Dawn, the portal fantasy Dreamlander, and the historical/dieselpunk adventure Storming. When she’s not making things up, she’s busy mentoring other authors on her award-winning blog She makes her home in western Nebraska.