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Politics and Literature in Turkish Historical Novel: Kemal Tahir, Atilla ?lhan and A.H. Tanp?nar





Literature is an important component of a community?s culture.The relationship between literature and culture is a complex one: literature shapes a given culture and in turn is shaped by it. A literary piece of work is not the solitary production of the writer whose sole incitement is inspiration. Quite the contrary, literature is not neutral vis a vis the cultural and political requirements of its community. In fact culture itself is in no way immune from the surrounding ideology and politics of identity. This means that literature, culture and politics(of identity) are inseparable from each other and they all constitute different circles of the same chain of knowledge. This presentation will focus on the works of three famous Turkish writers namely Ahmed Hamdi Tanp?nar,(Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü-The Society for Setting Clocks, 1961 ) Kemal Tahir (Devlet Ana, 1967) and Atilla Ilhan (Dersaadet?te Sabah Ezanlar?, Morning Prayers in Istanbul, 1981) whose historical novels are the best examples of the complex relationship between literature, culture and politics of identity formation. Ahmet Hamdi Tanp?nar's Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü is an allegorical novel criticizing various aspects of the Kemalist Ideology. The present analysis will mostly concentrate on the "leadership aspect" of Kemalism that Tanp?nar implicitly criticizes. The "father complex" he talks about is the most controversial aspect of the Kemalist ideology. Kemal Tahir's Devlet Ana, on the other hand, is no doubt one of the most influential historical-novels of the late-Republican Era. In a sense it exemplifies Tzvetan Todorov's emphasis on how a novel can be more influential than a mere history book in propagating a peculiar understanding of history. Kemal Tahir's aim here is to transfer his philosophy of nationalism to the reader via a history novel based on a myth. Atilla Ilhan?s Dersaadet?te Sabah Ezanlar? is also a historical novel. Similar to Kemal Tahir?s Devlet Ana, this novel also constitutes a good example of Todorov?s emphasis on literature and history. Similar to Devlet Ana, its language and narrative style gives us the impression that the author(or more truly the narrator) does in fact live in those days with these people(there exists a reality effect, the impression of reality which substitutes truth with fiction). To increase this impression of reality, both authors(Tahir and ?lhan) adds some familiar(but somehow obscure, even mystical) figures among the protagonists.

Suggested Citation

  • Asli Daldal, 2014. "Politics and Literature in Turkish Historical Novel: Kemal Tahir, Atilla ?lhan and A.H. Tanp?nar," Proceedings of International Academic Conferences 0701568, International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:sek:iacpro:0701568

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    Literature; Politics; History;

    JEL classification:

    • Y90 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Other - - - Other

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