EVERYTHING SHOULD BE UNDER THE SUN...
We have only one WORLD yet! If we destroy it, where else will we go?
Winter 2002: 8th issue - **2nd Anniversary**

My Own Story
(A Large Excerpt)
Aziz NESIN 1968
From "MEMOIRS OF AN EXILE"*

Publisher of the Memoirs Of An Exile & Hayri The Barber Surname book, Josephs Jacobson, also
designed the book covers.


"My father, an Anatolian village boy, came to Istanbul at the age of thirteen. My mother, from another Anatolian village, also came to Istanbul as a very small child. They had to make this journey, meet in Istanbul and get married so that I could come into the world.

The choice was not left to me, so I was born at a very unsuitable time--the bloodiest and most fiery days of World War I, in 1915. Again, the choice not being in my hands, my birth occurred not only at an unseemly time but in an unfavorable place, on Heybeli Island. Heybeli lies offshore of Istanbul and was the summer residence of Turkey's richest people. And since the rich couldn't live without the poor--they had such a great need for them--we, too, lived on the island.

I don't mean to imply with these remarks that I was unlucky. On the contrary, I consider myself as being quite fortunate in not coming from a rich, noble and famous family.

They named me Nusret. In Turkish, this Arabic word means 'God's Help.' It was a name entirely fitting to us because my family, destitute of any other hope, placed all their hope in God.

Ancient Spartants killed, with their own hands, offspring that were born weak and puny, raising only the strong and healthy. This process of selection for us Turks is formed by nature and society. When I disclose that four brothers died in infancy, unable to endure their hostile environment, you will easily understand how stubborn I was in surviving. And my mother, unable to endure her twenty-sixth year, died, leaving this beautiful world, so worth living in, to those were strong. In capitalist countries the milieu is excelent for merchants; in socialist countries, most favorable for writers. That is, a man who knows his business must become a writer if he's in a socialist state, or a merchant if he's in a capitalist one. How contrary a man I was going to be was already evident in my childhood, for even at the age of ten, in a country like Turkey--a capitalist scrap pile--I'd determined to become a writer though no one in my family could read or write.

My father, like every good father who gives thought to his son's future, advised, forget this silly idea of writing and take a good honest job, one you can make a living at! I was beyong listening to him.

My obstinacy didn't stop there. Although I wished to be a writer, yearned to take a pen in hand, I entered a school where they would thrust a rifle in my hand. During my early years I couldn't do what I liked, and didn't like what I did do. I wanted to become a writer, but became a soldier. At that time, the only schools where poor, penniless children could study free, were military schools; therefore I was forced to enter a military boarding school.

In 1933 when the surname law was passed, which directed every Turk to select a last name, people's secret feelings of inferiority surfaced: Some of the world's stingiest became known as Eliacik (Openhanded) the greatest cowards named themsleves Yurekli (Stouthearted) and many of the laziest took the name Calishkan (Industrious).

One of our teachers chose the surname of Ceviker (Dexterous) when he could barely sign his name to a letter. The rampant racism present caused people with mixed blood to grab for surnames which signified they were Turks.

Invariably I came last in any kind of scramble; I was no different in this one for nice surnames. No surname remained that I could take pride in, so I assumed the name of Nesin (What-are-you?). I wanted to think of what I was and pull myself together whenever anyone called, What-are-you! In 1937 I became an officer, you know, a Napoleon. Well really, I was merely one of the Napoleons. Every new officer thinks himself Napoleon. Some of them never recover from this sickness; it lasts a whole lifetime. Others are cured after a while. 'Napoleonitis' is a dangerous and contagious disease. The symptoms are these: The victims think only of Napoleon's victories, never of his defeats; they are prone to tuck a right hand between jacket buttons; they stand before a map of the world, drawing with a red crayon and, after subjugating and occupying the entire world in five minutes, regret that the world is so small. Victims of this disease rave as in a high fever. There are other dangers. In later stages, they may fancy themselves Tamerlane, Ghengis Khan, Attila, Hannibal, Moltke, even Hitler or others such as these..."

- - - -


This great story of Aziz NESIN, first story of the "Memoirs Of An Exile". It is very exciting to read Aziz NESIN's book in New York in English, in particular reading the story as in Turkish. Thanks to Josephs Jacobson for this and other books which he published from Turkish literature.

About the publisher Joseph Jacobson:


Joe and Vi Jacobson
(photo by Maria Nygard)



"...The American professor whom we call 'Joe,' his nickname, is a scholar whose heart has been captured by Turkey
and Turkish literature. Joe studied at the American Army Language School and firmed up his Turkish serving in Ankara as a Colonel attache. Later with his developed Turkish he presented a doctoral dissertation at the University of Utah tied to Yakub Kadri Karaosmanoglu and his novel Yaban and received a Doctor of Philosophy degree. After completing the doctorate, retired from the Army, Joe departed on a great journey, wandering endlessly about Turkey in the mysterious cosmos of Turkish literature and grew especially fond of novels and short stories...

"In 1961 rolling up his sleeves after retirement from the University of Utah, together with his wife, Viola, an experinced editor, Joe brought to life the publishing firm devoted entirely to Turkish writers, called "Southmoor Studios."..."

Engin Askin, Cumhuriyet Correspondent in Toronto
From Aziz Nesin's Last Letter

Memoirs Of An Exile &
Hayri The Barber Surname
Aziz NESIN
published by Joseph Jacobson

Southmoor Studios,
1801 East Southmoor Drive
Holladay, UT 84117
E-mail: josephsjacobson@aol.com
This issue dedicated to such distinguished poet & composer as (alphabetical order):
Nazim HIKMET & Ilhan MIMAROGLU

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