The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 2010 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 200 pages

What happens within us when we read a novel? And how does a novel create its unique effects, so distinct from those of a painting, a film, or a poem? In this inspired, thoughtful, deeply personal book, Orhan Pamuk takes us into the worlds of the writer and the reader, revealing their intimate connections.

Pamuk draws on Friedrich Schiller’s famous distinction between “naive” poets—who write spontaneously, serenely, unselfconsciously—and “sentimental” poets: those who are reflective, emotional, questioning, and alive to the artifice of the written word. Harking back to the beloved novels of his youth and ranging through the work of such writers as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Stendhal, Flaubert, Proust, Mann, and Naipaul, he explores the oscillation between the naive and the reflective, and the search for an equilibrium, that lie at the center of the novelist’s craft. He ponders the novel’s visual and sensual power—its ability to conjure landscapes so vivid they can make the here-and-now fade away. In the course of this exploration, he considers the elements of character, plot, time, and setting that compose the “sweet illusion” of the fictional world.

Anyone who has known the pleasure of becoming immersed in a novel will enjoy, and learn from, this perceptive book by one of the modern masters of the art.


What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Laura400 - LibraryThing

An inspiring brief lecture series about writing and reading novels. Its central conceit, inspired by Schiller, is the contrast between naive and sentimental thought, which unfortunately seems a bit ... Read full review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

I own, read, and very much loved Orhan Pamuk's two previous nonfiction books, "Istanbul," and "Other Colors: Essays and a Story." I just purchased "The Naive and the Sentimental Novelist," his latest book of nonfiction. I have only read a few pages, but I already know I love it. I love books about books, which is what "TNatSN" is. I love the way Pamuk writes. And I also love the way he looks and sounds. I had the good fortune to see him a year ago at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in NYC. He has a cute accent, a cute personality, and an even cuter smile and face. And he just happened to win a pretty "cute" prize known as Nobel. Pamuk dedicated "TNatSN" to his girlfriend, Kiran Desai. My review here is dedicated to the young man who introduced me to this author. Just like Pamuk, he's a smart cutie patootie with a great smile! 


2 Mr Pamuk Did All This Really Happen To You?
3 Literary Character Plot Time
4 Words Pictures Objects
5 Museums and Novels
6 The Center

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Orhan Pamuk was born in Istanbul, Turkey on June 7, 1952. After graduating from Robert College in Istanbul, he studied architecture at the Istanbul Technical University. After three years, he decided to become a writer and graduated from the Institute of Journalism at the University of Istanbul in 1976. In 1982, he published his first novel Cevdet Bey and His Sons, which received both the Orhan Kemal and Milliyet literary prizes. His novel, My Name Is Red, won the French Prix Du Meilleur Livre Etranger, the 2002 Italian Grinzane Cavour, and the 2003 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. He has received numerous Turkish and international literary awards for his works including the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. His recent work includes A Strangeness in My Mind.

Bibliographic information