the Media Release:
Light Millennium Proudly Present
the Changes of 1970-80 in the
Postmodern and Pre-Postmodern Connections between the
Study* "Is the Novel Summer's End Pre-Postmodern?" and The Narrow Times** Trilogy
lecture series with Adalet AGAOGLU will mark the 5th Anniversary
of the Light MIllennium...
Light Millennium Members and Dear Guests,
you for inviting me to take part, as a Turkish author,
in the 5th anniversary celebrations of Light Millennium.
I accepted this invitation under difficult conditions.
However, I had been informed about the previous activities
of Light Millennium. I learned that the organization was
based on the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution
about the freedom of speech and ideas. As a direct consequence
of this (principle), there was a need for scientists,
writers, artists who would produce ideas through arts,
philosophy, history, geography all over the world, who
would express the meanings of their works and their views,
for the millenniums after the two thousands; and
an environment had to be provided for them to know and
understand each other. The path of cooperating against
terror and war could pass through knowing different cultures.
In fact, it had to pass through knowing other cultures.
The organization's mission is spreading the light, providing
peace for the purpose of expressing ideas freely.
as someone writing in Turkish, on what familiarity with
my works could I count on, in talking about my works,
their structure and contents (in a forum such as this)?
As long as my works didn't have the chance of being read,
would they have the opportunity of being translated? Spurred
on by contemporary politics one or two of my works have
had this opportunity: I have been translated into Slovak,
Bulgarian, German, but I have been translated into English,
which is a lot more widely spoken, only once and by an
Englishman who was close to, who had an affinity for "universal
culture": My novel, Uc Bes Kisi in Turkish, was published under the title Curfew
in the U.S. Of course, its English was adapted
to "American English."
me not drag this on any longer: Since my English is not
completely adequate, from where could I start to talk
about and make some references to the spirit of narrowness,
constriction, tightness that is the main impetus (provocation) for my books to be created in the way
they are? (Right here, I'd like to explain this: I am
a member of a generation who has lived through
three military coups, has struggled with various obstacles
and censorships, and has written only in its mother tongue.
As Rollo May had said in his book The Courage to Create: "The best
problem for the creative person is constriction, it is
to be confined on a narrow threshold." The constriction
I faced is not just caused by military coups; the
narrow limits of traditional narration, its self-enclosure
upon itself has goaded me to flee and escape from a classical
narrative structure , to throw off its shrunken shirt,
to search for multi-dimensional narration forms)
is, to an extent,
possible to establish a dialogue with those who
have read what I have been writing in the course of these
searches of mine. But, in a different cultural milieu
where I am not known, and that I almost don't know myself,
a milieu which is especially not familiar with the 80-
year old transformation of the Turkish Republic from east
to west , was it possible to say: "I exist, I'm here""?
it is possible to say this. In fact, I'm told, meeting
and getting to know each other is done this way the best!
A meeting that takes place outside of politics,
but is as current as the market and marketing: A meeting
that is enabled by research and academic questioning.
little after I got an invitation from Light Millennium
, I went to Holland for the introductory campaign of my
novel Summer's End which was being planned to be translated
into and published in Dutch. The day I arrived, I found
another invitation awaiting me at my hotel. "Could
a workshop on my novel Summer's End
to be held by Leiden University's Eastern and Turkish
Language-Literature Department at such and such a date,
during the time I was there?" Amsterdam was close
to Leiden, the date was suitable, and my publisher was
willing to take me there; why not?
here is the study that Dr. Petra de Bruijn* presented
in which she discussed the results she reached after evaluating
page by page the findings of her students's research in
"postmodern elements" in Summer's End. . The people who attended that workshop
were students, the Dean of the Faculty, a Sociology Professor,
and even more interestingly, the Turkish Ambassador to
Holland. It is a study which is the answer to this interesting
question: "Is Adalet Agaoglu's novel, Summer's
a pre-postmodern novel?"
am full of excitement. Because, at a time when postmodern
narration has become widespread, while I was
feeling sad for being "unnoticed"
in this sense, I had become "known" at
an unknown place, furthermore, at a home of literary science.
I had been recognized as a novelist who had "taken
on the mantle" of an avant-garde postmodern style,
at a time when this kind of narrative had not
yet taken taken hold of literature. (I think the
paper's abstract has been distributed to the audience.)
this novel is published in English with a translation
by Figen Bingul who has previously translated my short
story "Rabia's Return"
--successfully in my opinion, and furthermore,
by evaluating its relationship to Halide Edip Adivar's
novel The Clown and His Daughter (Sinekli Bakkal) from which this story
originates--, I don't know if those who will read this
translation will share in the surprise "discovery"
in Leiden. Summer's End,
which was published in 1980, is, in fact, the point
where my trilogy Narrow Times had brought me. The narrative style I
created there had nothing to do with my being influenced
or a craving on my part to be attuned to the narrative
fashions of the
time. My trilogy's first novel Lying Down to Die, is the first
result of my search
to liberate the Turkish novel from its constrictions.
In this novel, making use of a variety of verb conjugations
as different echoes of time, I used all types of narrations
such as the "the first person" narration, "third
person" narration, letter, poem, dream, play, memoir
and inner talk; I instinctively established such an entirety of "carnivalesque"
fiction by myself. This novel which was published in 1973
was followed by the other books of the trilogy, as well
as by my other novels. In each one, I dealt with the deficiencies
that I saw in the previous one. I made what I learned
from each book into a guide for the following one. The
Leiden University study states that "the postmodern
elements exist in her other novels. too." It is possible
that such a result may have been caused by my dissatisfaction
with what I have already done, by my desire to create
new narrative excitements and by my delight of the journey
of the search . The truth is that, it was my desire to
pull the Turkish novel toward a place different from before,
both in terms of fiction and in terms of the representation
of the 'individual" which was defined by social,
historical, economic conditions . My dream of finding
a place outside of and beyond what's given, what's been
strange it is! This search of mine was supported first
by my readers, then by academics of literature.
Before "March 12"
(the military coup in 1971) novels, the dominant
genre was the village novel, popular in Turkey between
the 1950's and 1970's. I have never accepted "March
12" to be a "novel genre", but novels and
stories dealing with the coup replaced the village novel.
Both are traditional representations: One of the fallout from the coup, the other
of the problems in the rural areas. (Meanwhile) Turkey
is changing rapidly; the peasants are migrating either
to Germany or France in worker status, or to big cities
of the country. Those who have been deprived of their
personal rights because of the military coup are in
prison and they are writing their experiences;
those who could go abroad have been carrying the load
of the coup on their shoulders; and this is becoming the
personal history of these individuals. Just because they
were published after March 12th , some literary critics
have had the tendency of situating my novels in this category.
This is wrong.
the September 12th coup (military coup in 1980), a "new
is born out of forced silence and silencing (caused
by the coup). The works in this literary trend are divorced from political
and social realities, but are very much under the influence
of the American novel of the time, which is both directed
to the consumers and works toward conditioning them. This
is a literary trend of becoming independent of
social and political problems, that is, a literary
trend of irresponsibility. Works of this kind enacted
a leap to an artificial "postmodern" narrative without passing through the experience of "modern"
literature. It is an escape by the author from a confrontation
with himself/herself. This is the laziness (fostered by) computers and the Internet.
fluctuations and an everpresent inferiority complex vis-a-vis
the West have
caused issues of literary search and coming to terms with
literature as well as the questions of enriching the mother
tongue, and to opening it up to wider ideas
and narrative concepts out of consideration. I have learned
that there was a greater inferiority complex vis-a-vis
the West than I could have known, both through writing and living. If you have written a different
and highly literary book surpassing popular taste, it
must mean that you have been influenced- not by a native,
but by a foreign author, that is, if you have not stolen
from him. It is not the provenance of especially a native
"woman author" to deal with the contribution
of intertextuality to literature, with the ways of getting
rid of the God-like"omniscient author" who knows
everything, to question and remedy the deficiencies in
what had been done before, etc.
you allow me, I would like to finish my speech on a fun
note by giving a few examples of these. But before that,
let me explain right away: I do not recognize an author
category such as
a "woman author" and I think
that to accept this, is to already accept from
the beginning a "second class" status even for the consciousness
and magic of the act of
I believe that we can better claim our human rights
by giving back to male authors "the women" they created in
their works .
I wish that the examples that I will be giving on the
"Western syndrome" of my country will be evaluated
from this perspective (of claiming rights). When Lying
Down to Die was published and it was liked by readers,
I started hearing of whispers of
" Oh, that novel, it's Faulkner's, don't you
know!" It turns out that he had a novel called As
I Lay Dying. I looked for and found the book right
away; I couldn't find a single similarity except for the
experience of reading a good novel. Summer's End was published; clearly
to compliment my writing, they said: "Aaah, how lovely,
exactly like Virginia Woolf!"
"Like The Waves . " This gave me the opportunity of getting acquainted with
Woolf. I challenged myself to find a blood relation between
two novels; I couldn't..
Wedding Night was published in 1979. It got the reaction:"
What daring novel both in terms of narrative and content!"
It was announced to be plagiarized from Huxley;
then, at the time,
it was understood that I had broken the taboos
that could never be broken; because a previously published
novel of mine had been banned and collected at the time
of the 1980 coup, and this newest one had been referred
to the public prosecutor.
now I don't know to which lower class I will be thrown,
for sharing these kinds of things with foreigners. But
the most recent real praise that I have received is that,
in my trilogy, I have been extremely influenced by Samuel
Beckett's trilogy, Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnameable. (These are works that were not translated
into my language at those times.) In this last discovery,
there is a technical mistake, but the study is well-intentioned.
A comparative study of a valued professor at the literature
department of one of our universities: The positive contribution
of intertexuality to literature; the view point that the
narratives would become enriched by these interactions.
Let me say, with embarrassment, that I still have not
been able to read Malone Dies which was the alleged inspiration for my Lying Down to
Die in the Narrow Times,
as is the
case with the other two plays of S. Beckett,
whom I know by his play Waiting for Godot
and love to the level adoration. However, with
this comparison, I am sure that they want to praise me
and declare my value. I still ask: When will I be only
myself as a writer from Turkey?
nice answer came to this questioning I was going through
on my own. As I have learned from a study completed in
the Comparative Literature Department at the Middle East
Technical University in Ankara, my novel A Wedding
has been compared to Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway; and they have found out that I have
introduced some narrative dimensions missing in Woolf's
narrative. So, under the influence of the sacred magic
of narration, I have gotten even not only with Faulkner,
Huxley and Samuel Beckett, but also with the inferiority
complex of my country vis-a-vis the West
any case, Ottoman culture and literature are somewhat
known in the Western world, but Turkish Republican literature
is almost unknown. As for me, I think that the societies
whose people are not known would not be understood at
all. Because all metamorphoses first condition and change
the human being, and because the main responsibility of literature
and arts is the human being.
Special Thanks to:
Prof. Sibel EROL
the Media Release of the lecture series>
the Changes of 1970- 80 in the Turkish Novel"
Adalet AGAOGLU was written originally in Turkish for
her lectures which organized by Light Millennium, Inc.
- A Charitable Public Benefit organization & incollaboration
with the Division of Humanitites and the Program in Turkish
and Middle Eastern Studies Imperatore School of Sciences
and Arts at Stevens Institute of Technology; and also
TSA (Turkish Student Association), Turkish Initiative,
Turkish Center @ MEALAC (Middle Eastern Asian Languages
and Cultures); MEI (Middle East Institute) at Columbia
University on May 4 in Hoboken and May 5, 2005 in New