At first look, Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red bears many resemblances to Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose: both take place in a period when manuscript illumination was a prestigious art, both deal in worlds where the licitness of books commanded great spiritual (and thus physical) importance, and both tell the story of a series of murders born out of the struggle for control of these things. Deeper consideration, though, shows that these two novels differ by more than the fact that the former in set in 16th century Istanbul, and the latter in 14th century Italy. Whereas Eco’s book centers on a group of clerics wrestling amongst each other (albeit in ways that represent much broader power struggles) over issues of faith, My Name is Red centers on secular artists, and though religion forms a thick blue vein through the story, Pamuk’s book is, before anything else, about art. In fact, to be even more precise, it is about perspective…

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