What is the historical period in which Orhan Pamuk's novel The Museum of Innocence was set? What events took place in that time period?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Orhan Pamuk's novel The Museum of Innocence is set in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1975, but more specifically, the novel focuses on the Nişantaşı quarter of Istanbul.

The Nişantaşı quarter is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Istanbul. It contains the most expensive shopping district of Istanbul, just like 5th Avenue is New York City's most expensive shopping district. It also contains Istanbul's most expensive residential neighborhoods ("Nişantaşı").

However, one should also keep in mind that the time period between the 1960s and mid- to late-1970s was one of great political unrest in Istanbul, which can also have bearing on the novel. In 1969, what has been dubbed Bloody Sunday occurred, which was a bloody massacre of marchers in a political protest. Nine years prior, in 1960, the Turkish military overtook the government in a coup d'etat. The new regime was far more capitalistic than many Turkish citizens wanted to be. As a result, many Turkish citizens protested against social inequality and unfair labor treatment. Protestors demonstrated in Taksim Square on February 16, 1969 and were attacked "with knives and sticks" by a "counter-revolutionary force" ("Bloody Sunday (1969)"). Hence, traces of the same social issues of inequality and division of classes that were protested on Bloody Sunday can also be seen in the novel.

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