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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 October 2009


This study gives voice to three ways of becoming modern in the Turkish experience through a reading of the novels of Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, Oğuz Atay, and Orhan Pamuk. The first possibility, represented by the works of Tanpınar, is more conservative and defensive, concerned with preserving what is considered authentic culture. Anti-individualistic, it nonetheless attempts to appropriate Western culture and the change generated by its impact within “the traditional essence.” The second possibility, represented by the works of Atay, is open ended: it reaches beyond the limitations of the Turkish social-historical domain to create a new individual (and implicitly social) existence while remaining critical of Western “individuality.” The last possibility, represented by the works of Pamuk, expresses the dominant concept of “modernization” in Turkey, which equates modernization with Westernization. Individualization comes to mean replication of “Western individuality.”

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

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1 Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar (1901–62) was a history of literature professor who served as a parliamentary deputy between 1942 and 1946. Oğuz Atay (1934–77) earned his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Istanbul Technical University and worked irregularly as an academic. Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk (1952–) studied journalism at Istanbul University and is one of the most productive and well-known novelists of Turkey. Their works cover the period from the 1940s to the present.

2 Moran, Berna, Türk Romanına Eleştirel Bir Bakış, I. Cilt (Istanbul: İletişim, 1994), 910Google Scholar.

3 Timur, Taner, Türk Romanında Tarih, Toplum ve Kimlik (Istanbul: Afa, 1991), 3738Google Scholar.

4 Moran, Türk Romanına Eleştirel Bir Bakış, 38–45.

5 Osborne, Peter, “Modernity Is a Qualitative, Not a Chronological, Category,” New Left Review 192 (1992): 75Google Scholar.

6 Cited in ibid., 68.

7 Gilroy, Paul, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (London: Verso, 1993), 197Google Scholar.

8 Ibid., 46.

9 Göle, Nilüfer, “Global Expectations, Local Experiences: Non-Western Modernities,” in Through a Glass, Darkly, ed. Wil Arts (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2000), 44Google Scholar.

10 Ibid., 55.

11 Ahıska, Meltem, “Occidentalism: The Historical Fantasy of the Modern,” The South Atlantic Quarterly 102 (2003): 362CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

12 Ibid., 365.

13 Ibid., 365.

14 Gilroy, The Black Atlantic, 45.

15 Ibid., 45.

16 Ibid., 221.

17 Ibid., 221.

18 All translations from the novels are mine.

19 Tanpınar, Ahmet Hamdi, Huzur (Istanbul: Dergah Yayınları, 1997)Google Scholar. The first edition appeared in 1949.

20 A Sufi order in Islamic culture known as the order of whirling dervishes.

21 Bektaşi people represent a heterodox religious order founded by Hacı Bektaş Veli around the mid-13th century. It is known for expressing spiritual transcendence through worldly engagements such as singing, drinking, and dancing, expressing humane concerns with a sublime ethics.

22 Tanpınar, Huzur, 251.

23 The Mevlevi dervishes adopted the ney, a type of flute, as their main musical instrument guiding their spiritual journey of unification with being.

24 The Sufi title dede denotes highly respected spiritual maturity and saintliness.

25 Tanpınar, Huzur, 310.

26 Ibid., 312.

27 Ibid., 313.

28 Ibid., 314.

29 Ibid., 331.

30 Ibid., 338.

31 Ibid., 349.

32 Ibid., 406.

33 Ibid., 110–11.

34 Ecevit, Yıldız, Oğuz Atay'da Aydın Olgusu (Istanbul: Ara Yayıncılık, 1989), 87Google Scholar.

35 Ibid., 91.

36 Atay, Oğuz, Tehlikeli Oyunlar (Istanbul: İletişim, 1999), 330–2Google Scholar. The first edition appeared in 1973.

37 Ibid., 348.

38 Ibid., 350.

39 Ibid., 288–89.

40 Ibid., 297–98.

41 Ibid., 334.

42 Pamuk, Orhan, “Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar ve Türk Modernizmi,” Defter 23 (1995): 42Google Scholar.

43 Weber, Max, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (New York: Scribner, 1958), 65Google Scholar.

44 Pamuk, Orhan, Cevdet Bey ve Oğulları (Istanbul: Iletişim, 1998), 224–5Google Scholar.

45 Ibid., 238.

46 Ibid., 279–80.

47 Ibid., 284.

48 Ibid., 479–80.

49 Ibid., 593–4.

50 Ibid., 589.

51 Pamuk, Orhan, Sessiz Ev (Istanbul: İletişim, 1998), 237Google Scholar. The first edition appeared in 1983.

52 Ibid., 96.

53 Ibid., 298

54 Ibid., 301.

55 Ibid., 302.

56 Ibid., 303.

57 Pamuk, Orhan, Beyaz Kale (Istanbul: Can Yayınları, 1985), 1213Google Scholar.

58 Bakhtin, Mikhail, Dialogic Imagination (London: Edward Arnold, 1994), 210–17Google Scholar.

59 Kern, Stephen, The Culture of Time and Space 1880–1918 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1983), 33Google Scholar.

60 Ibid., 17.

61 Tanpınar, Huzur, 81.

62 Atay, Oğuz, Tutunamayanlar (Istanbul: İletişim, 1990), 75Google Scholar. The first edition appeared in 1971.

63 Ibid., 83.

64 Ibid., 95.

65 Ibid., 102.

66 Ibid., 414.

67 Ibid., 414–15.

68 Ibid., 605.

69 Ibid., 495. Karagöz is one of the main characters in the traditional shadow theater named for him. According to Metin And, shadow theatre had been fully constituted by the 17th century. The play depends on a series of dialogues between the two characters: Hacivat represents a man of “formal, superficial knowledge” and Karagöz the “common sense” of “ordinary” people. He is direct, witty, and outspoken. See Metin And, Culture, Performance and Communication in Turkey (Tokyo: Daiwa Printing, 1987), 118–19.

70 Atay, Tutunamayanlar, 660.

71 Bakhtin, Dialogic Imagination, 213.

72 Pamuk, Orhan, Kara Kitap (Istanbul: İletişim, 2008), 192Google Scholar. The first edition appeared in 1990.