White Castle

White Castle: A fiction by Ferit Orhan Pamuk

How does it feel seeing the world through the eyes of others? If you’re unable to cope with your imaginative power, then you’ll be easily get mad and angry. Unless you listen carefully and let the information come into your mind, you will get nothing but negative response and wasting your time. It’s all becoming worse if the both sides are not in equal position. This is the central theme of White Castle, which is Orhan Pamuk’s third novel. The quest of modernity and Cartesian point of view towards knowledge, coupled with the power of ego performed by Hoja upon his slave, will captivate readers of the work of the celebrated Turkish writer.

To read White Castle, one should concentrate more since Pamuk uses first-person narrative along the novel. It is easy to distinguish the characters at first. However, when it comes to intense relationship and conversations between Hoja and the Italian scholar, the flow has become more complex. As Pamuk uses first-person narratives, I suggest you to spare more of your time to read White Castle since it drives you to imagine more and more. You will miss important ‘scene’ otherwise.

White Castle is a story about an Italian scholar who is captured by Turkish pirates on his way from Venice to Naples. It is 17th century and Italian Peninsula is rising due to Renaissance. He told his captors that he was trained as doctor in Italy when nearly all of his fellow prisoners suffer from a plague. There is no additional information about his academic background or credentials: He is a lucky man of high intelligence and common sense. He is able to fight the plague, then brought to a pasha. He manages to cure the pasha also and granted ‘freedom’: He is no longer prisoner, but a slave for the time being. The pasha asks him to convert to Islam, and tortures him for refusing to do so. He is then given to a friend of the pasha, to a man, an eccentric scientist called Hoja.

Looking at Hoja for the first time, the Italian is shocked. Both like twins. Identical twins. For this, the Italian said, “The resemblance between me and the man who entered the room was incredible.”

Hoja then brings him home. For years, he forces the Italian to teach and tell him everything he knows. Hoja wants to know about all of his knowledge and his life. Hoja’s inquisitive behavior makes him exhausted. Hoja asks him a lot about science and technology at broader sense. He also asks him about how to make wonderful fireworks till the way of making a clock. However, Hoja is not stupid. During the conversations, the Italian is often amazed by his intelligent as Hoja learns so fast. Slowly but sure, the slave-master relationship is getting weaker, and gradually becomes sort of brotherhood. Nevertheless, the Italian is still longing for his home in Italy. He gains the momentum when Hoja’s weapon made for the Sultan is not working well, results in lost in war. Together they flee. At that point, it is unclear which one is the master and the slave.

White Castle is interesting to read since it gives readers today an alternative to mainstream novel. The characters are not many, but the flow and experience a reader may get is quite rich. White Castle serves as introduction for Pamuk before writing novel of the same nature but with more complex plot and characters: My Name is Red, which brings him Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006. Indeed, practice makes perfect.


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