The Museum of Innocence Read online


  Other Colors



  My Name Is Red

  The White Castle

  The Black Book

  The New Life

  To Rüya

  These were innocent people, so innocent that they thought poverty a crime that wealth would allow them to forget.

  —from the notebooks of Celál Salik

  If a man could pass thro’ Paradise in a Dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his Soul had really been there, and found that flower in his hand when he awoke—Aye? and what then?

  —from the notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

  First I surveyed the little trinkets on the table, her lotions and her perfumes. I picked them up and examined them one by one. I turned her little watch over in my hand. Then I looked at her wardrobe. All those dresses and accessories piled one on top of the other. These things that every woman used to complete herself—they induced in me a painful and desperate loneliness; I felt myself hers, I longed to be hers.

  —from the notebooks of Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar




  1. The Happiest Moment of My Life

  2. The Şanzelize Boutique

  3. Distant Relations

  4. Love at the Office

  5. Fuaye

  6. Füsun’s Tears

  7. The Merhamet Apartments

  8. Turkey’s First Fruit Soda

  9. F

  10. City Lights and Happiness

  11. The Feast of the Sacrifice

  12. Kissing on the Lips

  13. Love, Courage, Modernity

  14. Istanbul’s Streets, Bridges, Hills, and Squares

  15. A Few Unpalatable Anthropological Truths

  16. Jealousy

  17. My Whole Life Depends on You Now

  18. Belkıs’s Story

  19. At the Funeral

  20. Füsun’s Two Conditions

  21. My Father’s Story: Pearl Earrings

  22. The Hand of Rahmi Efendi

  23. Silence

  24. The Engagement Party

  25. The Agony of Waiting

  26. An Anatomical Chart of Love Pains

  27. Don’t Lean Back That Way, You Might Fall

  28. The Consolation of Objects

  29. By Now There Was Hardly a Moment When I Wasn’t Thinking About Her

  30. Füsun Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

  31. The Streets That Reminded Me of Her

  32. The Shadows and Ghosts I Mistook for Füsun

  33. Vulgar Distractions

  34. Like a Dog in Outer Space

  35. The First Seeds of My Collection

  36. To Entertain a Small Hope That Might Allay My Heartache

  37. The Empty House

  38. The End-of Summer Party

  39. Confession

  40. The Consolations of Life in a Yali

  41. Swimming on My Back

  42. The Melancholy of Autumn

  43. Cold and Lonely November Days

  44. Fatih Hotel

  45. A Holiday on Uludağ

  46. Is It Normal to Leave Your Fiancée in the Lurch?

  47. My Father’s Death

  48. The Most Important Thing in Life Is to Be Happy

  49. I Was Going to Ask Her to Marry Me

  50. This Is the Last Time I’ll Ever See Her!

  51. Happiness Means Being Close to the One You Love, That’s All

  52. A Film About Life and Agony Should Be Sincere

  53. An Indignant and Broken Heart Is of No Use to Anyone

  54. Time

  55. Come Again Tomorrow, and We Can Sit Together Again

  56. Lemon Films Inc.

  57. On Being Unable to Stand Up and Leave

  58. Tombala

  59. Getting Past the Censors

  60. Evenings on the Bosphorus, at the Huzur Restaurant

  61. To Look

  62. To Help Pass the Time

  63. The Gossip Column

  64. The Fire on the Bosphorus

  65. The Dogs

  66. What Is This?

  67. Cologne

  68. 4,213 Cigarette Stubs

  69. Sometimes

  70. Broken Lives

  71. You Hardly Ever Come Here Anymore, Kemal Bey

  72. Life, Too, Is Just Like Love…

  73. Füsun’s Driving License

  74. Tarik Bey

  75. The İnci Patisserie

  76. The Cinemas of Beyoğlu

  77. The Grand Semiramis Hotel

  78. Summer Rain

  79. Journey to Another World

  80. After the Accident

  81. The Museum of Innocence

  82. Collectors

  83. Happiness

  ORHAN PAMUK expresses his gratitude to Sila Okur for ensuring fidelity to the Turkish text; to his editor and friend George Andreou, for his meticulous editing of the translation; and to Kiran Desai for generously giving her time to read the final text, and for her invaluable suggestions and ideas.


  The Happiest Moment of My Life

  IT WAS the happiest moment of my life, though I didn’t know it. Had I known, had I cherished this gift, would everything have turned out differently? Yes, if I had recognized this instant of perfect happiness, I would have held it fast and never let it slip away. It took a few seconds, perhaps, for that luminous state to enfold me, suffusing me with the deepest peace, but it seemed to last hours, even years. In that moment, on the afternoon of Monday, May 26, 1975, at about a quarter to three, just as we felt ourselves to be beyond sin and guilt so too did the world seem to have been released from gravity and time. Kissing Füsun’s shoulder, already moist from the heat of our lovemaking, I gently entered her from behind, and as I softly bit her ear, her earring must have come free and, for all we knew, hovered in midair before falling of its own accord. Our bliss was so profound that we went on kissing, heedless of the fall of the earring, whose shape I had not even noticed.

  Outside the sky was shimmering as it does only in Istanbul in the spring. In the streets people still in their winter clothes were perspiring, but inside shops and buildings, and under the linden and chestnut trees, it was still cool. We felt the same coolness rising from the musty mattress on which we were making love, the way children play, happily forgetting everything else. A breeze wafted in through the balcony window, tinged with the sea and linden leaves; it lifted the tulle curtains, and they billowed down again in slow motion, chilling our naked bodies. From the bed of the back bedroom of the second-floor apartment, we could see a group of boys playing football in the garden below, swearing furiously in the May heat, and as it dawned on us that we were enacting, word for word, exactly those indecencies, we stopped making love to look into each other’s eyes and smile. But so great was our elation that the joke life had sent us from the back garden was forgotten as quickly as the earring.

  When we met the next day, Füsun told me she had lost one of her earrings. Actually, not long after she had left the preceding afternoon, I’d spotted it nestled in the blue sheets, her initial dangling at its tip, and I was about to put it aside when, by a strange compulsion, I slipped it into my pocket. So now I said, “I have it here, darling,” as I reached into the right-hand pocket of my jacket hanging on the back of a chair. “Oh, it’s gone!” For a moment, I glimpsed a bad omen, a hint of malign fate, but then I remembered that I’d put on a different jacket that morning, because of the warm weather. “It must be in the pocket of my other jacket.”

  “Please bring it tomorrow. Don’t forget,” Füsun said, her eyes widening. “It is very dear to me.”