In her article "The subversion of East and West in Orhan Pamuk's novel, The White Castle" Adile Aslan seeks to show how Orhan Pamuk plays with the theme of East versus West in his third novel The White Castle (1985), with the aim of de-essentializing both concepts. In 1928, Perso-Arabic script, in use for centuries as the main writing system in the Ottoman Empire, was replaced with Latin alphabet (accompanied by an intensive Turkification of the Ottoman language in the coming years) as a part of a larger modernization-Westernization project in the new nation state, a move which effectively turned every document from before 1928 into an archive. For new generations in Turkey, pre-1928 history is not readily accessible unless one is specifically trained as a historian or a Turkish philologist. While the transition from a multinational, multiethnic, multilingual, and multicontinental empire to a nation-state may never be a smooth process in itself, as it can be reflected in other former empires-current nation states, in the Turkish case it proved to be an epistemic and psychological rupture due to the unfathomable speed of reformations. In an attempt to consolidate one nation-one language-one culture, the westernizing fathers of the new nation-state tried to turn the entire history of their forefathers' empire into an a forbidden, repressed, inaccessible archive for the generations after 1928. In this sense, the Turkish case represents an internalized colonization. The fact that Turkey became an ally of the US during the cold war and opened itself up to the global market system in the 1980s only deepens this sense of internalized colonization. In most instances, cultural and literary works have been the first to capture the tensions between (post)colonial theory and colonized resistance. The White Castle is a good example that makes visible how intricately intertwined the concepts of East and West are.
Aslan Almond, Adile.
"The Subversion of East and West in Orhan Pamuk’s novel, The White Castle."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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