The multilayers of Istanbul which can be witnessed archeologically can also be seen throughout Turkish culture and literature. As literature illustrates, the city transforms into an object that is in keeping with the meaning of the word palimpsest.1 Each layer of the city has bene re-written on the surface of the other; sometimes the one below has been removed and its traces are erased. However, most of the time texts written one after the other become intertwined and narrate the city as it is impossible to eliminate traces of any layer. This process of accumulation and layering signifies both the city itself and its culture, indeed the entire literary process. Istanbul, as a city of many layers, most of the time represents both Elysian and catastrophic in literature.

This essay attempts to put forth the idea that to perceive the city both as an Elysian and a catastrophic place is the outcome of a point of view that can be understood as a metaphor for the author/poet/narrator/character’s inner world perspective as seen through descriptions of the city. Therefore, the relationship between Istanbul and literature will be discussed, with a focus on the connections between Yahya Kemal (d. 1958), Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar (d. 1962), Ilhan Berk (d. 2008), Sait Faik (d. 1954) and Orhan Pamuk (b. 1952-).

Hans Rudnick expresses that literature depicts an “idealized place”; the locus amoenus is designed as a “socially and mentally idealized place” where most of us “would like to reside.”2 There is no room for disappointments in this Elysian place where nature and human are one and the same. However, after a while locus amoenus gives way to locus terribilis; that is, some sort of a catastrophic place, a “terrible place”, as with the case of Hamlet or Don Quixote. Now, instead of love and harmony one hears the agony of the lover and there is a dark and gloomy atmosphere. The place is associated with displeasure, unhappiness and sadness. In fact, the transformation of the place from locus amoenus to locus terribilis takes place through the mood of the unhappy lover or unhappy individual, through his/her gaze inward from outward; in other words, the individual’s pain is projected.3 This emphasis by Rudnick regarding the perception of place as shaped by the perspective of the individual is the starting point for this article, which will address and analyze the Istanbul of authors, poets and fictional characters.

Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, who focuses on the individual’s perspective of the individual, transforming a location from an Elysian place to a catastrophic place, or more broadly that which shapes the perception of place, problematizes the point that lies at the heart of this essay when he states: “Istanbul is something quite different for our generation than it was for our grandfathers or even our fathers. It does not enter our imagination wrapped in halat (gowns) embroidered with gilded silver thread and gold; nor do we see it through the frame of religion. The brightness that brims over this word is rather a brightness of the memories of and longings for the past we choose in accordance with our own mood.”4 In other words, the connection between the mood and the memories gathered from the images of the city defines the city, and this is what will be discussed in this chapter. Namely, it is not what the city is, but what the perceiving subject sees. Orhan Pamuk defines his view of Istanbul with a similar emphasis:

Viewing the scenery of the city is to combine the feelings offered by Istanbul with images of walking in the streets and travelling by boat; however, viewing the scenery of the city while walking is this alone. It is also the ability to combine your mood with the images offered by the city. The way of doing this skillfully and sincerely is to combine the images of the city in one’s memory with the deepest and most sincere feelings; with sadness, sorrow, melancholy and from time to time with happiness, joy for life and optimism.5

Pamuk describes the key concepts that are referred to within this essay: the actions of viewing, remembering and perceiving the mood are essential points that are brought together by Istanbul. With these points in mind, other authors and poets will be discussed in this essay. The approach to authorship shaped in accordance with the selection of the place from where the author or poet chooses to view the city, along with the combination of moments and emotions that leave a mark on the author’s memory, with the scenery as viewed by the author. These authors are brothers/sisters, or at least close relatives from the aspect of how the perspective is devised according to the author’s mood and according to the projection of the individual.

Certainly there are innumerable authors and poets who wrote about Istanbul during the Republican era. Several of these can be brought together within this framework; these authors are also representatives of different literary approaches and periods and are included in this essay in order to delineate the boundaries of the study and to construct a meaningful perception of Istanbul. Although the authors share subjective perspectives about Istanbul, filtered through their individual characters, their varying literary approaches alter the style and method of these representations.

A clearer example of the transformation from the Elysian place to the catastrophic place, mentioned above, should be given before examples from specific works are cited; this is the image of “enemy Istanbul” which existed prior to the transformation of place. The familiar construction of Istanbul in the literature as an Elysian place, a locus amoenus, is broken by the poem “Sis” (fog) by Tevfik Fikret (1867-1915). In “Sis,” Istanbul is criticized as a city of the power. However, the construction of the capital of the state as a catastrophic place gains sharpness essentially through the nationalist imagination. Since the 1920s Istanbul has been alienated, otherized and transformed into an enemy - also through the influence of nationalism. The fact that Istanbul becomes an enemy in this period is due to the construction of a national identity and a national place that is required by this very identity. The new locus amoenus, the Elysian place, is now Ankara:

[This national place emphasized in literary works] is not Istanbul, where compradors, opponents and rich bourgeoisie who have no close contact with the war reside in comfort; it is Ankara, which is also the metonymy of the resistance and the resistance fighters. On the other hand, Istanbul gradually moves away from being worthy of the imagined nation and in this regard it becomes the metonymy of the opponents of the resistance. However, the contradiction of Istanbul and Ankara is not only a metonymy within the constructed nationalist discourse, but a design of love and hatred against the very physical existence of these cities is constructed.6

The most striking example of transforming Istanbul into an enemy and an object of hatred through nationalist imagery can be observed in Sodom ve Gomore (Sodom and Gomorrah) by Yakup Kadri (d. 1974). He recounts the dirtied, depraved and degenerate Istanbul – that is, the occupied Istanbul that looks like Sodom and Gomorrah. He creates a story of moral breakdown and a story of compradors in Istanbul over the main motifs of the Sodom and Gomorrah story from the Old Testament. While the novel renders the “sullied nature” of Istanbul visible, particularly on the European side of the city, in Şişli and Pera, Üsküdar, located on the Asian side still preserves its innocence. When the protagonist of the novel emphasizes this innocence and non-sullied nature while viewing the ridges of Üsküdar from the European side, he in fact indicates the “national” and local, the non-Westernized. Here exist “clean and patient women, swinging the cradle of their babies whose fathers have gone to the war ... poor citizens who consider themselves as happy, a man who owns all the treasures of the world,” instead of the Leylas, Nermins, Madam Jimsons or Major Willers. The pre-condition of this innocence and cleanness seems to be poverty.7

Starting from this clearest example, the relationship that he nationalist imagery has with Istanbul is associated with the topographic features of the city; these represent the cultural and economic identity of the nation. Primarily Üsküdar, but also the Historical Peninsula, Fatih, Aksaray, or in short, “the other side of the bridge”, become symbolic of the orderly, conservative nation which is poor; on the other hand, the other side, specifically Şişli and Pera, became the symbol of a degenerated modernity, being monden, and disengaged from the national and local.8

Yahya Kemal’s Climate of Forgiveness

There are more refined examples of the designing of literary works with nationalist imagery through the topographic representation of the city within the works of these two authors mentioned above: Yahya Kemal and Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar.9 The attitudes of both of these poets/authors draw a more convoluted and contradictory image than the sharp contradiction mentioned above. To start with, “Hayal Şehir” (dream city) by Yahya Kemal is a poem that begins with the following lines, “Go in this season at a sunset to Cihangir and look!/ Let yourself in the dream before you for a while!” In this poem, Üsküdar is being viewed from the opposite side, from Cihangir; it is suggested that the interlocutor look from there as well, much like the protagonist of Sodom ve Gomore. This view recommended by the subject of the poem aims to show how the color of sunset tints and wraps Üsküdar on the opposing shore in a glittering light, as can be understood from the following lines: “Delusion of sun creates palaces from the windows/.../These palaces of solid fire on all of the opposite shore/Make it resemble the splendid East of three thousand years ago.” Even if it is a delusion, this created image illustrates the “splendid East.” The poet emphasizes the transiency of these palaces, of this splendor: “These fire-born buildings are evanescent;/They are all gone with the sunset from the West.” The whole illusion disappears because of the sunset from the “West.”10

Yahya Kemal’s nationalist sensitivity aims to observe and demonstrate that in spite of its being worn out, Üsküdar - as the representative of the local and the traditional - is in fact the continuance of the “splendid East”, and the glitter of the past continues in another form in Üsküdar and similar districts, although this appears to be a delusion, an illusion:

However, the reign of poor Üsküdar is short;
It does not grieve for what the sun now destroys;
City of cypresses dives into its internal brightness,
In such a climate of eternal forgiveness
Fools’ gold or real gold cannot delude.
The people's tender renders each district an Elysium
From each hill under dark on the opposite shore,
In the night, the lamps of many poor houses
Reflect Üsküdar through the truest mirror.11

These lines suggest that although within this scenery the splendid reignof the past seem to be an illusion or a delusion, what is real is an “internal brightness” that can be attributed to this place. The light reflected from the “lamps of the poor houses” against the darkness of the European side is the light of their internal brightness, of the “pure” and intact people who transform this poor neighborhood into an Elysian place. However, all the meaning attributed to Üsküdar does not change the fact that the protagonist of the poem views this scenery from the opposite shore. Orhan Pamuk refers to Yahya Kemal and Tanpınar, saying: “I learned from them that the price for praising Istanbul with an excessive and lyric enthusiasm was to no longer live in that city or to view the “beautiful” object from outside.”12

Looking at the beautiful and praised object from outside and from a certain distance implies that it is possible to find the “beautiful”, the one worthy of praise only from a distance. Specifically, it is necessary to look from outside to see the beauty. As a matter of fact, Pamuk states that Yahya Kemal and Tanpınar figured out the way to unite nationalism and beauty without screaming or being rude; they did it by wandering through the outskirts of the city. Speaking of Yahya Kemal and Tanpınar, Pamuk states that in “Istanbul was the traces of the great loss that had survived – they were in ruins; but this was their city. They understood that only when they devoted themselves to the melancholic poem of destruction and decay would they find a distinctive voice.” He also emphasizes that they were inspired particularly by Nerval (b. 1808-d. 1855) and Gautier (b. 1811-d. 1872) and combined the misery of the “back stages” behind the beautiful scenery.13

In fact, Gautier once expressed that the scenery - or some sort of décor – as dignified by Yahya Kemal in “Hayal Şehir”, losses its appeal when one approaches: “The thing that looks like an admirable scenery from a distance is actually the coloring of the narrow, steep, dirty and featureless streets, disorganized piles of houses and trees, illuminated by the palette of the sun.”14 Yahya Kemal reverses this quite realistic scene, which reveals what is on the other side of beauty and indicates the internal richness of a poor, old neighborhood, even after the disappearance of the illusion that was created by the sun. Actually, this difference also suggests again that the viewing eye and the mood of the viewer determine the meanings attributed to the city. The misery seen by one evolves into an aesthetical image, while the internal beauty is captured in the other. On the other hand, it is possible to discover traces of nationalism that differ from previous ones with the distinction of Üsküdar by Yahya Kemal.

According to Pamuk, there is a political purpose behind the fact that these authors are drawn into a feeling of loss, sadness and melancholy within the outskirts: “They wanted to explore the Turkish nation and Turkish nationality within the ruins of Istanbul and demonstrate that although the great Ottoman State had collapsed, the Turkish nation (they were keen to forget the Greek, Armenian, Jewish, Kurdish and other minorities after the Republic of Turkey had been established) was still standing, although mournfully.”15 These authors tried to put forward this nationalist perspective with a language shaped by “beauty” instead of the authoritarian language of the state. “Hayal Şehir” and similar poems can also be read within the framework constructed by Pamuk, sen as a part of Yahya Kemal’s mission to develop the image of a “Turkish Istanbul”.

They were in need of a beauty that would emphasize the Muslim population of the poor Istanbul to prove its existence; they had to prove it survived without losing its identity in any way and to express a feeling of loss and defeat. Thus, they wandered around the outskirts, looked for beautiful images where old ruins and the past met in a sadness with the people living in the city, and found scenes of the melancholic outskirts which had been explored seventy years earlier by travelers like Gautier, someone who had read them well.16

Orhan Pamuk suggests that Yahya Kemal and Tanpınar constructed their literary identities, in a sense, by searching and discovering the beauty and features that would enable the past, gathered from the outskirts of the present, to be brought back to life, thus rendering a component of the new national identity. On the one hand, the intimacy desired and established by modern authors such as Proust, whom they read and knew well, and, on the other hand, a nationalist commitment to a certain extent determined the literature of these two poets/authors.17

To return to Yahya Kemal’s view of the “outskirts” from outside and from a certain distance, in this context, we can examine the poem “Atik Valide’den İnen Sokakta” (in the street that descends from Atik Valide) as a good example of the very close and far distance:

I went to Atik-Valde before iftar,
The streets I had passed by many times were today again
Silent. However, the spirit of Ramadan
Turned the silence into a lovely expectancy;
Fasting fellows, their faces fading,
Quietly, one by one from the arcade returning,
Poor girls waiting in the grocery.
Somehow close the cannon and iftar reminding.
Almost no one is on the square now;
The day ended with a cannon firing on this shore.
The moment of the thundering cannon and the broken fast,
A beatific joy covered the adobe houses.
Oh God, what a pleasant world, what a pureness!
I am alone on the deserted street, without a fast and without joy.
The sorrow of being distant from this iftar in my land
Made my soul aware of an unlimited homesick evening.
Only thought could comfort my sorrow
I told myself feeling relief somehow:
“Although separating from them is always sorrow for me,
Thank God that I still have these feelings.”18

The subject of the poem walks through the streets of the neighborhood during Ramadan, at a time close to iftar. The poor residences of the quiet streets cheer up as iftar approaches. The subject of the poem is happy for the people living there and sorry for themselves against this “pleasant world” which they view from outside, attributing an otherworldly meaning. The following lines leave such an impression on us; it is as if the subject of the poem is not there, but far away and perhaps on an expedition: “I am alone on the deserted street, without a fast and without joy/The sorrow of being distant from this iftar in my land/Made my soul aware of an unlimited homesick evening.” However, we know that the subject of the poem is there; they are not abroad. But they do not belong there, despite the meaning attributed. Although they console themselves by the sorrow that is derived from leaving that place, this world about which the subject is discussing with admiration and longing is not the world in which they live. Pamuk also remarks that while Tanpınar and Yahya Kemal praise the “poor and remote Istanbul” and the “traditional life” of the back streets, or while they are worried about the disappearance of the “pure” culture due to Westernization, they live in Beyoğlu.19 Pamuk’s point is not to pass moral judgment, but rather an attempt to identify their vacillating moods. In this regard, what I am trying to demonstrate with the poem “Atik Valde” is the pain of the separation - which cannot be explained solely by nationalism - created by a disengagement from the holistic perception of the world; in fact, this is confessed by the subject of the poem to some extent. On the other hand, in “Ezansız Semtler” (neighborhoods with no adhan) the poet states that distinctly over-civilized neighborhoods are drawing away from being Muslim and Turkish. “On the contrary we, the Turkish of today, have settled in places such as Şişli, Nişantaşı, Kadıköyü Kadköy and Moda, which are reminiscent of a minuscule city; however, those places are free, barren and gaunt from the Muslim spirit. First consider Üsküdar and then Kadıköyü; Kadıköyü is reminiscent of Tatavla when compared to Üsküdar.”20 Yahya Kemal argues that those districts of the city, within which he also lives, look like “heathen European neighborhoods”. This view from outside and from a certain distance does not solely result in a longing or dignifying, as in the case of “Ezansız Semtler” or “Atik Valde”. There is almost a propagandist attitude, part of the efforts of Turkification and attempt to survive as “itself” against the modernity. The poet wants to offer hope that those indifferent to religion would, in a sense, re-claim their religion one day again thanks to the help of authors and poets. In this regard, Yahya Kemal constructs a Turkish Muslim identity through location - that is through Istanbul – in both his poems and essays. He even implies that this construction activity is the duty of authors and poets.

Tanpınar and İstif

Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar also uses many aspects of this national identity which Yahya Kemal tries to attribute to the city, but to which his life style does not belong; however, his perspective is more ambivalent and intricate. Tanpınar argues within the “Istanbul” chapter of Beş Şehir (five cities) that Istanbul becomes a city with a completely different character from what it had due to the transformation of civilization and losses of many aspects of its identity. The former music, former community life and habits have disappeared. Tanpınar imagines another new life style rather than re-vitalizing the past: “Istanbul need a new life, new festival, new mode of recreation, new time. From now on Istanbul is a city which earns its bread by work. Everything it has must be arranged accordingly.”21 The current emphasis is more on the new forms of life that dominate the city and the new form of individualism, which becomes perhaps extremely independent of the past and has weakened community bonds, rather than on the legacy of Istanbul. However, again the traces of the past and the support of literature and art are required to achieve this:

So many memories and persons... Why did I mention all those things impossible to revive when I mentioned the Bosphorus and Istanbul? Why does the past pull us in like a well? I well know that what I am looking for is not those people; I do not yearn for the era they lived in either ... We taste its beauty by the experience of four centuries and by being enriched in a different way through ourselves; these become a little clearer everyday between two different worlds of values. A Süleymaniye or Kanuni Elegy without Yahya Kemal, Mallarme, Debussy or Proust, or even a Sinan or Baki cannot be accessed by passing among Neşati and Nedim and Hafız Post and Dede. These were so close to the former ones but are barer than we can imagine... No, definitely we do not intrinsically like these old things. What pulls us towards them is the emptiness itself left behind. Whether there is a trace of it or not, we search in them a part of us that we think we have lost in the scuffle inside us... I seek for a world lost in the divine wisdom of all those people who fall quiet at the border of the ideal. When I cannot get what I want from them, I go back to poetry and prose. I ask for it through the glass of the music; the glass is emptied, but my thirst remains unquenched; as art looks like love, it does not satisfy one but rather causes thirst. I run from one mirage to another. Enigmatic faces reach out for me at every fountain I run to; lips I do not know, voices I do not recognize talk to me through endless signs, but I understand none of them. I see that nothing is changed when my lips move away from their lips. Perhaps they talk to me about their own experiences, about strong walls that they also encountered at every step: “We were also like you,” they say, “you cannot find an answer to any question. What is real is the yearning inside you; try to keep it alive.”22

Tanpınar is also saddened by the disappearance of the old culture; yet, in the above lines his pursuit is not for the objects, people or world of the past as it was. Rather, it is the “yearning” of an individual who does not know what they are looking for or what they have lost. Perhaps only a feeling can be decisive in this state of pursuit, which is at the heart of the individual’s relationship with the past and with the former culture, and their refuge in illusions created by art and literature. Tanpınar, like Yahya Kemal, calls this feeling “homesickness.” However, as observed within these lines, this is the “homesickness” of the individual who shall inevitably become independent within the city “earning their own bread.”

We read about the relationship Tanpınar established with the city in his essays on Istanbul, like those of Yahya Kemal. However, his work as the actual mirror of the intricacy and ambivalence of this relationship is Huzur (tranquility). It is possible to discover numerous faces and various aspects of Istanbul within this novel. The city appears before us both as a carrier of the culture, time and history, and also as a representation of the being, existence and fragmented subject, the individual. The features of Istanbul in Huzur, which are brought out within this study, will be mentioned by quoting some metaphors which are used in the novel.

The first of these metaphors is the metaphor of the verb istif (stacking, piling one upon the other). This word, which Tanpınar likes a great deal, says a lot about the city, culture, time and the experience of change. The city becomes a live entity, an actor within the novel, demonstrating how change should take place and involving the traces of the change in its own self. Tanpınar associates the city as the carrier of the change with the concept of istif. Istanbul, as a place where the goods, stories, texts and music are agglomerated, one upon the other, enables the continuity of the former lives, culture and time, and is the carrier of identity:

Divine wisdom of the customs so rich and magical when viewed from a distance were waiting, one after the other, on the shelves, bookrests, chairs and floors of the shops next to him, shops with wooden shutters and benches and with dated prayer rugs, waiting until eternity in a pile (istif) stranger to any idea of classification, as if they were being prepared for burial or were being watched where they had been buried. However, the East could not be pure anywhere, even within its grave. The armful of witnesses - novels with illustrations on their covers, textbooks, yearbooks in European languages with faded green bindings and formulas of pharmacists - of the change inside us, of the desire to adapt and the pursuit of our identity in a new climate were on the open-air pushcarts, right next to these books. Fortune telling by coffee and the Rome fantasy of Mommsen, the leftovers of the Payot edition and the fishing book by Karakin Efendi, veterinary sciences, modern chemistry and the science of fortune telling by sand were blended into one another as if the entire disorder of the human mind had to be exhibited all at the same time in this arcade.

When viewed this way as a whole this is a strange composite which seems to be only a work of mental indigestion. Mümtaz was aware that these states were in a hundred-year old struggle, with a constant casting off of skins.23

Here it should be mentioned that the emphasis in these lines reflect the perspectives of the protagonist of the novel, Mümtaz, while he is wandering in the Grand Bazaar; he perceives it as “in a pile stranger to any idea of classification,” rather than the East’s inability to be pure.24 The city comes forward as a pile (istif) that reflects the “disorder of the human mind” with togetherness, being stacked one after the other, an agglomeration of the objects, lives and goods that seem to be irrelevant and unconnected to one another. “A strange composite”, seemingly the work of “mental indigestion”, which does not adopt the classification tools of the modern world. Thus we acquire a clue about the city and the identity that has almost been imposed by the city rather than a merging of the East and West. In fact, the question is a mind and identity that adopts agglomeration and istif, similar to the individuality and confused mind of Mümtaz, rather than a distillation or classification. Or, a city/individual/identity that is shaped by “piling” as a classification method instead of employing a modern classification method.

Each item in this istif gives clues about its identity without merging with one another. Mümtaz makes the reader feel that music, art and literature re-vitalize the lives within the istif and thus the monolithic nature of the era, where he discovers different stories within the pages of the books and magazines he encounters within the arcade and the second-hand bookstores.

In this regard, with the metaphor of istif it is easier to understand the complexity of the soul of the city; another aspect of Pamuk’s approach evaluates this within a nationalist framework, which we also encounter in Tanpınar’s essay, “Kenar semtlerde bir gezinti” (an excursion around the outskirts). However, it is necessary to mention another aspect of this essay, which merges with Huzur. Huzur, or in fact the story of the protagonist Mümtaz, can also be read under the shadow of Mümtaz, as a story of worry, fear, disappointment and insecurity of a city or a country. We witness Mümtaz’s step-by-step fragmentation and disintegration throughout the novel; under the shadow of Mümtaz we encounter Istanbul as an object that faces fragmentation.25

At the beginning of the novel, Mümtaz walks through the old neighborhoods of Istanbul to find a nurse. While perceiving the impoverished neighborhoods and houses as the remnants of the empire while listening to folk songs sung by children playing outside Mümtaz contemplates that not the city, the houses or the neighborhoods, but the folk song shapes life.26 In this scene, when Mümtaz is about to form an idea of cultural continuity in his mind, he remembers that Ihsan is ill, Nuran is cross with him and war is at the door; at this moment he also realizes that the children are playing on a powder keg:

Poor kids were playing on a powder keg. But the song was an old song; thus, life continued even on a powder keg... He was walking slowly, skipping from one thought to another... He was passing through miserable, distraught neighborhoods and old houses reminiscent of a human face ravaged by poverty. There were many distraught and ill-looking people around him. They were all dispirited. They were all thinking about tomorrow, about the great doomsday. If only this illness had not occurred. What if they also call upon him? What if he is obliged to leave İhsan in this illness?27

In fact, these lines at the beginning of the novel are the first signs of heaviness, a worry and fear that will be felt in each of the following pages. In this regard, the powder keg metaphor is concerned with the atmosphere of the entire city; Mümtaz is at the edge of a great crisis - or perhaps even in it for some time - not only his individual world and relations, but with the entire city, country and even the world. This atmosphere, represented by a powder keg in the first chapter, is later on joined by the war and illness, as illustrated above.

While a perception of life and a life-style that pervades the culture and identity of the city is mentioned by the concept of istif above, the state represented by the powder keg in these lines is not the opposite or the alternative of istif. The powder keg is right in, next to and around the istif, shaping the city of Huzur and at the edge of the feet of the children who are singing a folk song. The city continues to experience the pains, insecurities, fears and worries faced by the world simultaneously within its own life. War and illness are the messengers of new changes and “terrible transformations”. In this framework, the city that is viewed by Mümtaz from a certain distance - actually from outside, while he walks inside it in the novel - is both an agglomeration of the past, of history and of culture; it is also a state of being and an actor that experiences, is influenced by the dynamics of daily life, the contemporary soul and the transformations of the modern world.

İlhan Berk’s Travelogue of Istanbul

İlhan Berk is another poet who describes the city viewed by Tanpınar and his protagonist Mümtaz, gathering memories from these scenes; however, he is not as much an outsider as Tanpınar. It is necessary to begin with several very fundamental points that separate İlhan Berk from Yahya Kemal and Tanpınar. Yahya Kemal and Tanpınar prefer to turn their gaze towards a Turkifiying Istanbul, which is equally emphasized by Pamuk. There is no really explicit emphasis on cosmopolitism, disappearing cultures or life-styles apart from Muslim culture, even within Tanpınar’s idea of istif as discussed above. On the one hand, the primary places viewed by Ilhan Berk in Istanbul are Galata and Pera. Berk goes to Galata Tower and observes the city. Here are non-Muslim poor, gypsies, the homeless and Byzantium, rather than the Ottomans, or perhaps a different Ottoman than the recognized Ottoman in these places. Although not expressed literally, his city also resembles Tanpınar’s istif. However, Tanpınar’s piled items leave a piece within the collection, even if an old and worn-out one. On the other hand, Berk picks up traces of that which is currently disposed or being disposed, and the voices of those left behind.

Another face of Istanbul that emerges within Berk’s work is the “leaden” city of his early poems. The city which bears the traces of the poet’s socialist-realist approach is overcast and dark like the outskirts of Tanpınar’s - but Berk’s place is not the outskirts. And more importantly, contrary to the static places Tanpınar brings the reader to, like a museum, Berk’s location has movement and vitality: “Now you are in Istanbul, the city of leaden domes/The rustle of running clouds in the air/On the tram windows passing Karaköy arcade rain/Falls/They gave back Yeni Cami Süleymaniye to a dirty sky/They do not move at all/Ayasofya covers its hands on the face and cries with a full desire.”28

These images of leaden Istanbul, mosques leaning towards a dirty sky and weeping Ayasofya are like the messenger of a changing world and life-style. After the lines that dignify workers, proletarians and labor, Berk emphasizes hunger and poverty, in the end – much like “Sis” by Fikret - the dirt and disgrace spread across the city:

All work in tiny, gloomy places; for troublesome jobs/All love the life insanely... All walk under the sky intimately/Nothing is more beautiful than seeing the people going to work in this world...Now we will view hungry and poor Istanbul from the great walls/The poor and unemployed will suddenly crop up...Labor will be slayed again /Of the poor people...Everybody young and old and all clans of nations loved you/All comers loved, were attached and abandoned you/All comers left you new chain fobs, chains handcuffs/All comers were overtaken by hunger, hatred, cars, walls /The dungeons expanded its loneliness, desolation...You, the most ill-fated cities of all/Piles of evil and mess everywhere /Dissolved...This city is ready to die of lust, not love/City of young whores, dead sultans and diseased… disgraceful Istanbul!29

The ill fate of the city and the lust spread across it mentioned in the final lines of the above quote actually imply another feeling being projected onto the city; specifically, the desire for power which Istanbul elicits. Hunger, desolation, untidiness, loneliness, evil, hatred, disease and captivity are agglomerated, one after the other, in Berk’s Istanbul. Although this is a poem about Istanbul under the weight of the poet’s socialist-realist approach, Istanbul, as depicted by Berk in the following years does not advance far from the feeling of this poem. The feeling that emanates from the poem is “leaden.” Üsküdar, which we encountered earlier within Yahya Kemal’s “Hayal Şehir”, with its inner brightness, becomes a part of this very “leaden” feeling:

And Üsküdar is a gloomy, serene picture/Assigning gloomy, serene dates to an empire/To an old empire, old because its clothes are loose/ ... /To put a thick-lined symbol on a paper against nervous Byzantium and the moody Bosphorus/Is not that why it keeps to itself? To liste better and to stay always as it is/Wandering through Byzantine streets but unable to remove its jodhpurs or socks/ ... / And Murad IV draws and leaves Üsküdar as seven mountains and as a transit city between Anatolia and the Arabian and Persian and Indian lands/ And he states seventy neighborhoods of Islam, eleven of Greek and Armenian and one of Jewish/.../Smells tell you that you are in Üsküdar, in Khripolis/I tell the smells that I’m in Üsküdar, at a dead-end in Üsküdar/And there are bells ringing from Surp Haç Church/Surp Haç Church wandering always with its cross, drunken and damned/And the full moon goes dark.30

This Üsküdar is also introverted; its difference from the opposite side and its poverty are also visible. However, its historicity, its construction as a contradictory symbol, its being a transit city behind the meanings attributed to it, being Khripolis and the jingling of bells all emerge. What attracts the subject of the poem are various smells rather than the tranquility and brightness of the Mağfiret iklimi.

In this framework, the historical construction of the city is emphasized by İlhan Berk’s view of Istanbul. The poet describes the city as being shaped particularly in painting and miniature. In the poem “Nigari” Berk’s construction is underlined before he examines the Istanbul that we encounter most within the boks Galata and Pera:

Long afterwards a Nigâri attitude came to the world/Now Kanuni is always thoughtful. Hawk-nosed and gap-teethed. Like the painting./ Selim II wears yellow shoes. Stands on stony ground. When he goes out hunting, a man holds the target in his right hand...Now when a bird fancier stops, twists his mustache and walks, he walks with Nigâri’s attitude/Now a 15th-century sea of Galata enters into Nigâri’s paint/Enter.31

Since the artist Nigârî (d. 1572) depicted Sultan Süleyman I (d. 1566) in a certain way, he was always depicted in that way, and Selim II (d. 1574) has always been drawn in a certain way. What the subject of the poem refers to as Nigârî’s attitude is the way that history, the past and the city are constructed. This poem by lhan Berk, where he problematizes both historical perception and the relationship between art and representation, provides a clue about his poems and prose, particularly those within which he shapes the city. The narrator of the poem, who stands before a painting of Galata by Matrakçı Nasûh (Cudgel Master Nasuh) (d. 1564) in Berk’s Galata, begins an excursion in Galata through this painting. He constructs a Galata via Berk, which becomes almost an alternative to that of Nasûh. A history, which has been forgotten and which will be forgotten even more (another history which is diffused into the city, but mostly into these neighborhoods), is registered step-by-step and depicted:

Kaynakçı Avram (Welder Avram) No: 5 signpost, which is read with difficulty, on the gate of the building on Bakır Street seems to be content to solely stare at those who come and leave (through history). And we know that history also goes down to the Golden Horn (this old water). Moreover, although we might forget the history as much as possible, (since “ancient” Galata Court is here) it will not forget us. Then it arrives on these days and recites: four pipe stores, seven plumbing stores, one construction store, three lathe shops, one electrician shop, one sheet-iron cutting workshop, one assembly workshop. And it adds gate numbers as well.32

The fact that the “Kaynakçı Avram” of these lines or “Bileyci Niko Margrit” (knife-grinder Niko Margrit), “Eleni,” “Ivi” and many other non-Muslims, poor and homeless, are registered by name is designed to be a contradiction to the forgetfulness of history, or a history based on forgetting. Berk’s text looks like the “ancient Galata Court.” It depicts and narrates stories, making lists to have the city and history remembered by:

Former residents of Yüksekkaldırım relates about them: Jesuits Sparrows Snobs Protestants Fortune-drawers who do not smile, non-Muslim women Brokers Stateless Sick Children Woodpeckers Lap-dogs Hookies Vagabond clouds which are lonely, Silver-heeled apprentices Kites Haired drag queens Orthodox Yedi Meşaleciler (Seven Torch Holders) Levantines Crescents Vagabond spirited Jews Palikars, who are glabrous Dessert sellers ...33

This quotation, composed of only a few lines consisting of a very long list, indicates a list that does not fit into any classification and which upsets our modern classification and separation methods, like the Chinese Encyclopedia by Borges.34 Berk sustains the same attitude with Pera:

An Old Beloved Tarlabaşı is here, IX: Kalyoncukulluğu is not a large street but it covers the world, the piece of land we call the world. Trucks, hand carts, automobiles, porters shouldering the whole world, tramps, rascals, Pera Jews, wandering sellers, gum-like-candy sellers, Üç Horan Church (Yerrortutyun Church) of Sahne Street (which never leaves its lair, one needs to get about with Gregorian souls to find its door and get inside), birds, cats, fish …tramps, pimps, apprentices, vagabonds, children with shaved heads…men and women who have seen half of paradise all swarm in this street.35

Because Tarlabaşı is the throne of the human scene, it is the throne; every morning thousands of people, mason, whitewasher, plasterer, waterman, cook, cook assistant, painter, carpenter, coffee shop owners, grocer, apprentice of grocer, janitor, road workers, wandering seller, lottery-ticket seller, blood pressure taker, gum seller, electrician, vagabond, pimp, whore, women, children, that entire population is spread around all corners of Istanbul. They hold one part of our world. And our world begins to operate thanks to them. Tarlabaşı is a world!36

This long list of people and parties inexplicably placed together brings forth Berk’s perception of the city; this is another state of being urbanite, which is reminiscent of Tanpınar’s istif, but goes far beyond it. Berk, in a sense, re-writes the Seyahatnâme of Evliya Çelebi with the chapters that start “Streets People Houses are on it”; this designs a city history that is an alternative as Çelebi’s, while also taking a picture of the disappearing life in this disappearing city.

What is the place of Istanbul’s portrait that is dominated by the melancholy of the lost as shaped by Orhan Pamuk, particularly through his reading of Yahya Kemal and Tanpınar, which was emphasized from the beginning of the text, within Berk’s city perception? It is necessary to state that Berk’s poem also pursues the lost and the forgotten when considering the response to this question. The streets, people, but most of all Galata, Pera, the Greeks, Armenians, Gypsies, Jews, poets and authors of the city are registered in every nook and cranny by the poet; perhaps it is full of those ignored by the melancholy of Yahya Kemal and Tanpınar. In this regard, Berk’s documentation seems to be shaped by an anger felt from time to time and sometimes by irony rather than melancholy. Thus, the narrators of Berk’s poems persistently depict and document the disappearing rather than sadness. Therefore, they are not content with solely watching from the outside, but they get into the far end of the streets, people and lives.

Sait Faik: Introverted Resident of the Growing City

We encounter this state of viewing and this act of strolling the streets of the city, similar to Berk, with Sait Faik, another city wanderer for whom Berk wrote poems and who was the protagonist of his poems and texts. The whole story of Sait Faik actually is composed of the moments, scenes and people of the city, but most of all, the laborers, tradesmen, fishermen, non-Muslims, children and the poor gathered from the city. However, the narrators of Sait Faik do not just take pictures. What is decisive is the state that is viewed, the protagonist’s feelings and thoughts about that moment. The issues that are sensitive for the narrator and their mood influence the entire perspective. Actually, the owners of the perspective are ordinary people who are stuck and oppressed within the city. The “Lüzumsuz Adam” (useless man) story, in which the author describes Istanbul and the daily life of the narrator - oppressed and squeezed by modern urban life - within his neighborhood of three or four streets in which he has secluded himself after “falling out” with Istanbul, and then his return to the city. In this story, the relationship established by the character with the city is experienced through fear, panic and the pursuit of shelter.

I have not been anywhere else in the city of Istanbul other than those streets for seven years. I’m frightened. I feel as if they are going to hit me, lynch me, that they are going to steal my money – and something else I cannot think of - and I am surprised. I am oppressed by a bizarreness in other places. I’m scared of everybody. Who are these people crowding the streets? This huge city is crowded by people so strange to one another. Why have people built this kind of intertwined cities if there will be no chance of making love? It is beyond my understanding. Is it to look down at one another, to fight violently and to deceive one another? Why are people who are so far from one another and so unfamiliar living in the same city?37

What defines the texture, beauty and ugliness of the city in Sait Faik’s story are the interpersonal relationships. As can be understood through these lines, the city, composed of houses and buildings standing next to one another, for the author means contact of people with one another. However, quarreling and fighting is everywhere. Then he runs off to his small neighborhood. It is a shelter where he does the same things, meets the same people and where there is no danger. Sait Faik’s narrator is hurt and offended by the rows of people in this city. Fatih Altuğ draws attention to the urban life of the narrator before he seeks shelter in the neighborhood in his article, “Lüzumsuz Adam’da Yalnızlığın Toplumsal Dolayımı” (Social Mediation of Loneliness in ‘Useless Man’). What is implied in the story, although not explicitly expressed, is that the narrator used to be well adapted to the life styles offered to him within the city: “For a while the city was considered to be a place that was desired and within which one wanted to melt away. The person identifies with the new values of the city. However, a traumatic experience results in the overbearing oppressive side of the city over the desired side.” Altuğ explains the oppression over the individual with the experience of modernity and new modern life styles that are dominant in the city; expressly, the “new subjectivity of the city”, which the narrator cannot stand anymore, is referred to George Simmel. The speed, movement, increased stimulants of the city results in prioritizing mental reactions, rather than emotions of the urban people. And after a while, instead of people having different characteristics, the number of people in the city emerge. As the numbers grow, “love relationship” is replaced by “avoidance relationship”. It becomes impossible to care for people as one would in a small town. Altuğ emphasizes that the narrator shelters in the neighborhood and runs away from the city for this reason.38

However, things have changed when the neighborhood, transformed into a shelter by the Lüzumsuz Adam after he ran away from the city, is replaced by the island in another story by the same author. The life style is now imposed by the city and it pervades to all corners. When the narrator, who seeks shelter on the island in “Haritada Bir Nokta” (a point on the map), thinks that he will be happy with the good people living there, sees how the fishermen of the island kick a stranger who comes from outside and wants to share their bread; he then understands that there is no chance of seeking shelter anywhere anymore. The only refuge is writing.39 The city does not provide a life space or chance to the narrators/characters of Sait Faik.

Ilhan Berk’s forgotten, and his efforts to prevent setting the different to one side takes place in the center of his work; here the registration of all corners of the city and the depicting of the otherized of the city can be seen. In fact, Sait Faik also writes the story of those at the edge of the city, or perhaps more of those lost and swallowed up by the chaos of the city. However, as his characters gradually lose their joy of life and hope, they also make one feel that Istanbul has now become a city where it is not possible to live, one that gives pain. When Lüzumsuz Adam says, “I shall get aboard a Bosphorus boat one day. I shall stand up in front of Bebek and Arnavutköy from the bench on the rear where I sit; I shall look around. If there is no one, I shall let myself into the sea.”40 The death wish of the character is felt together with the city and with the beauty, happiness and destructiveness that the city makes one feel. What make the character feel useless is the new life-styles and the people of the city where he lives. Sait Faik does not view Istanbul from outside, from a certain distance. Or, more precisely, these characters seek shelter because they do not and cannot view it from outside; he feels very close to and among them, even when he is viewing them. They run away to avoid seeing, viewing the city.41

Orhan Pamuk, Melancholy and Textuality

All of these wanderer poets/authors, for whom viewing Istanbul and observing the city (location and reason) are decisive, perceive the city as a place within the axis of the Elysian place and catastrophic place, which was mentioned at the beginning of this essay. While Yahya Kemal and Tanpınar build the city again and again by creating an Elysian place design (and from time to time pretending, although aware of its being an illusion); Berk and Sait Faik write with a consciousness that the city has long become a catastrophic place, but still love the city with all its flaws. It would be appropriate to end this axis, within which we can add even more from Modern Turkish literature, with Orhan Pamuk, who also supports the framework given at the beginning of the text. Istanbul: Memories and the City is Pamuk’s work about Istanbul per se, or more precisely about “himself” shaped by Istanbul; thus, other novels that can also be considered the novels of Istanbul will not be examined. Within the first pages of the book Pamuk says: “I know that, as their creative identities were empowered by exile or migration, I have also become myself, thanks to my constant devotion to the same house, street, scenery and city. Devotion to Istanbul means that the fate of the city also becomes one’s character.” Here, the author is referring to many other great authors.42 Thus, Pamuk’s Istanbul offers clear clues about the city, determining his authorship and his character. The asic and persistent emphasis by the author in this book about the city is the “melancholy” feeling that embraces, almost rules the city. The central feeling or atmosphere around which Pamuk’s Istanbul is built is melancholy. The author, who emphasizes that the word “is about a feeling resulting from a loss which is spiritually overweighting,” states that the “intense melancholy feeling” created by Istanbul is a “point of view towards life,” “a mood.”43 The fact that Pamuk evokes melancholy is primarily concerned with his personal perspective: “The destructive feeling of the the Ottoman State, poverty and the melancholy originated from the ruins that covered the city, that which has identified Istanbul throughout my life.”44 The lost past, culture and prosperity or those remaining after the lost one, creates melancholy. Pamuk illustrates this feeling mostly with the black and white image of the city. He loves the grey, leaden, black and white Istanbul, which is similar to the “leaden” Istanbul of Ilhan Berk, because it covers the darkness of winter and the poverty of the city.45 “The feeling of defeat and loss and traces of poverty and destruction which have gradually sunk into the city over the last one hundred and fifty years make themselves visible from the black and white scenes of the attire of Istanbulites.”46 Pamuk’s persistent emphasis, as seen within those lines, is “the feeling of defeat and loss.” What determines the identity of the city and its residents is the melancholy created by this loss and poverty. This feeling, which influenced Pamuk throughout his childhood years, is a feeling “internalized with pride and shared as a community:”

I’m talking about the early arriving dusks, about the fathers returning to their homes with a bag in their hands under the street lamps of the outskirts of the town; I am talking about old book sellers who wait for customers all day long in their store, shaking like a leaf because of the cold after occasional economic crises …about children playing football on hardwood-covered narrow streets between cars, about women with headscarves and plastic bags waiting for a bus that never comes, always talking to one another at far away bus stops, about empty boathouses of old seaside mansions, about teahouses full to the brim of the unemployed …about broken see-saws in empty playgrounds, about ferry horns in the fog, about city walls in ruins remaining from Byzantium itself, about market places emptied during dusk, about old dervish tekkes turned into ruins…about the fact that everything is worn-out and old…When we correctly perceive this feeling and the images that spread it throughout the city, the corners and the people, when we are trained by it, then after a while, from wherever you view the city, this feeling of melancholy reaches a clarity visible within the scenery and the people, just like the mist starting to quiver subtly over the waters of the Bosphorus when it becomes suddenly sunny on cold winter mornings.47

This long excerpt, only a portion of which is cited above, demonstrates the framework or the lack of the framework, of the melancholic feeling Pamuk inevitably “views” in the city. A feeling of being lost, fallen, ruined, worn-out or weary, similar to that of Tanpınar’s essay, “Kenar Semtlerde Bir Gezinti” or what Mümtaz views while wandering around old neighborhoods, prevails in these lines. The unemployed, women with bags, empty playgrounds, ruined Byzantine walls, worn-out dervish lodges, and far away bus stops now imply an obsoleteness, some kind of aesthetic of ugliness that continues through the present of the author and the story together with the lost one. Of course, the new national identity gathered by Yahya Kemal and Tanpınar through their walks within the outskirts, more precisely, the pride shaped with the nationalist imagination within the obsoleteness, does not exist within Pamuk’s works. The melancholy that prevails in the excerpt above is similar to that in the former ones, but although the city feeling Pamuk gathers from this melancholy shares a significant kinship particularly with Tanpınar, it also differs. Nevertheless, as clearly put forward in Istanbul, the melancholy attributed by Pamuk to the city is a textual melancholy gathered at the same time and most of all from Tanpınar, from literature. Pamuk’s view continues to read and make sense of the city through these texts.

Kara Kitap (The Black Book) is a work which makes Istanbul a unique literary hero in Orhan Pamuk’s literature, long before he wrote Istanbul. In this early work, where the author explicitly exhibits both himself and the relationship he establishes with the city and the textuality of (his) literature, Galip, who wanders the city like Mümtaz and looks for his lost wife, turns the attention of the reader to the city as the novel progresses. Istanbul pictures, which are not in fact different from the above cited lines from Pamuk, are ascribed utterly different meanings. Stories laden with mysteries come to light behind teahouses, empty playgrounds and boathouses. As if to remind us of Mümtaz’s idea in Huzur that he could grant new lives to the lost names on the books of lyrics he discovers in second-hand book stores by re-writing the stories therein, Pamuk grants other, new meanings to the old city with the mysterious stories he ascribes to the “melancholic” scenes of the city within Kara Kitap. When the author expresses that what modern Turkish literature, music and poetry does is “to establish the melancholy as a center that describes and brings together the city as a community,” he celebrates all aspects that shape melancholy, the fragmentation of the city and its tangle in Kara Kitap.


The relationship established by modern Turkish literature with the city, or more precisely with Istanbul, from the establishment of the Republic to the present, is discussed in this article with five representatives; however, this is at the expense of leaving out dozens of other names. As mentioned at the beginning of the essay, it is possible to include other authors and poets within the representative axis. Nevertheless, these five names who bear closeness or remoteness within the framework of the article have provided us with significant clues about how literature records the city, particularly which kind of traces Istanbul leaves on literature, and about the intricate, complex relationship between the city and literature. First of all, we can state that the tension between the transformation of the city into an Elysian place or a catastrophic place, which takes place in the outermost frame of this text, and the perception of city shaped by the mood and perspective of the individual establish the kinship and intimacy that these authors have discussed.

The search for completeness or wholeness in the lost and dispersed, and for the ideal place has no conclusion for Tanpınar or Yahya Kemal. While Yahya Kemal constructs this personally, Tanpınar is more skeptical. Tanpınar’s protagonist Mümtaz demonstrates that it is impossible to re-establish an Elysian place out of all this tangle and loss. Tanpınar continues to stand at the edge of modernity and to perceive the city from this edge, despite all of his nationalism. Mümtaz continues to view traces of his internal fragmentation in the city and to swing constantly at the edge.

Yahya Kemal and the subjects of his poems, and Tanpınar and his characters reveal what is going on in their internal world, in their “moods”, while viewing several pictures during their walks across the city. This distance viewing is decisive. When we move to İlhan Berk, his narrators and protagonists also wander around the city, but they do not stop there; they get into the life and register the lives of the streets, people, houses and the ongoing movement. Berk’s observation is more the gaze of the cameraman rather than that of the painter. It constantly gets more inside and registers scenes in motion, not stillness. And this documentation aims to confront the lost one, to remind us of the eliminated one and to remove the covers of the persistently covered and veiled.

With Sait Faik, we find the mood created by the city in the individual, rather than the city itself. Specifically, the individual is in the city, but the ways of life, behavior and the attitude of the residents of the city influences the individual; the relationship with the city is established with the people who surround the individual. Sait Faik’s characters wander through several places in Istanbul, as far as the Islands. However, the view and the perception of the place by the character are determined by the feeling transmitted to Sait Faik’s characters from the people, rather than the scenery or the place itself. And just like İlhan Berk, for Sait Faik the city, Istanbul, is cosmopolitan; at least we understand that the world where Sait Faik wants to belong is somewhere like this.

When we arrive at Orhan Pamuk, in fact we experience an important temporal leap. However, we still see traces of some kind of a fellow citizenship that brings them all together. As mentioned above, the melancholy that Pamuk attributes to Istanbul, the melancholy that covers the city after the lost one, is a melancholy both driven by the author’s childhood and also gathered from the authors he read and loved, from Tanpınar, Abdülhak Şinasi Hisar, Nerval and Gautier. In this sense, it is textual. As Pamuk emphasizes, the case with Yahya Kemal and Tanpınar, Pamuk expresses that he views the city from the opposite side, from Cihangir. Although he wanders within the city, there is a distance in Pamuk’s perspective as well. In fact, the journey of Galip, Pamuk’s character, and the city stories in Kara Kitap are the products of this textual attitude. Although he attributes a melancholy to the city, Orhan Pamuk does not cry for the transformation of the city into a catastrophic place. On the contrary, Istanbul becomes the treasure chest, the “image store” for the author and turns into a playground as a catastrophic place.


1 Palimpsest is a document, mostly on parchment, that has been erased and written upon several times, overlapping, on which traces of the erased text is still visible. Thus, the Palimsests book, one of the most important works by Gérard Genette, explores the potential relationship of a text that has been written directly upon other texts; in other words the relationship between the layers of a written work. Genette suggests in this study that there are various ways in which the latter texts remind the reader of the former (see: Gérard Genette, Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree, tr. Channa Newman and Claude Doubinsky, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997).

2 Locus amoenus implies a holistic and heavenly place where there are no disappointments and happy lovers reside. Thus, I shall utilize this concept as an “Elysian place” For details, see: Hans Rudnick, “The Locus Amoenus: On the Literary Evolution of the Relationship Between the Human Being and Nature,” The Elemental Passion for Place in the Ontopoiesis of Life, edited by Anna Theresa Tymieniecka, London: Kluwer Academic Press, 1995.

3 Rudnick, cited from: “The Locus Amoenus” by Zeynep Uysal, “Sükunetsiz Meskenler, Huzursuz Mekanlar: Kiralık Konak ve Sodom ve Gomore’de Mekansızlaşma,” JTS, vol. 28, issue 2 (2004), pp. 259-272.

4 Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, Beş Şehir, Istanbul: Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı, 1989, p. 141.

5 Orhan Pamuk, İstanbul: Hatıralar ve Şehir, Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 2012, p. 320.

6 Zeynep Uysal, “Türk Edebiyatında ‘Gayri Milli’ Şehir İnşası: “Düşman” Istanbul,”, Istanbul, 2008, issue 64, pp. 83-87.

7 Yakup K. Karaosmanoğlu, Sodom ve Gomore, Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 2002, p. 192.

8 Mithat Cemal Kuntay, Üç Istanbul, Peyami Safa, Fatih Harbiye, Halide Edip, Sonsuz Panayır, Yakup Kadri, Kiralık Konak, Sodom ve Gomore can all be cited as novels that sharply draw this contrast.

9 Abdülhak Şinasi Hisar is the third name who can be mentioned with Yahya Kemal and Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar when looking at the subject of Istanbul. Rather than novels, Hisar is recognized as an author of Istanbul with his travel-memoir works he wrote about the city. It is necessary to mention two fundamental works of Hisar that document Istanbul with its geography, culture and life-style. These memoirs - entitled Boğaziçi Mehtapları (Bosphorus Moonshine) and Boğaziçi Yalıları Geçmiş Zaman Köşkleri (Bosphorus Seaside Mansions, Mansions of the Past) offer various ideas about Istanbul from music to entertainment styles, from daily life habits to architecture (see: Abdülhak Şinasi Hisar, Boğaziçi Yalıları Geçmiş Zaman Köşkleri, Ankara: Bağlam Yayıncılık, 1997; Abdülhak Şinasi Hisar, Boğaziçi Mehtapları, Ankara: Bağlam Yayıncılık, 1997). Another name that writes about Istanbul as much as he writes about Anatolia in these years is Refik Halit Karay. It would be appropriate to mention two books by Karay that foucs on Istanbul. While the author centers corrupted Istanbul, mentioned above in İstanbul’un Bir Yüzü (A Face of Istanbul), he relates interesting stories and life habits of Istanbul’s districts, somehow following the track of Hisar in Üç Nesil Üç Hayat (Three Generations, Three Lives) (see: Refik Halit Karay, Üç Nesil, Üç Hayat, Istanbul: Semih Lütfi Kitabevi, 1943; Refik Halit Karay, İstanbul’un Bir Yüzü, Istanbul: Semih Lütfi Kitabevi, 1939).

10 Yahya Kemal, Kendi Gök Kubbemiz, Istanbul: Fetih Cemiyeti Yahya Kemal Enstitüsü, 1963, p. 30.

11 Yahya Kemal, Kendi Gök Kubbemiz, p. 31.

12 Pamuk, Istanbul, p. 60. See: Halim Kara, “Yahya Kemal Beyatlı ve Charles Baudelaire’in in Şiirlerinde Kent İmgesi: İstanbul ve Paris,” Yahya Kemal Enstitüsü Mecmuası, 2008, issue 5, pp. 379-388 for a detailed reading of “Hayal Şehir” and the image of the city in Yahya Kemal.

13 Pamuk, Istanbul, p. 208.

14 Pamuk, Istanbul, p. 212.

15 Pamuk, Istanbul, p. 235.

16 Pamuk, Istanbul, p. 236.

17 Pamuk, Istanbul, p. 234.

18 Yahya Kemal, Kendi Gök Kubbemiz, pp. 34-35.

19 Pamuk, Istanbul, p. 240.

20 Yahya Kemal, Aziz İstanbul, Istanbul: Özal Matbaası, 2008, p. 102.

21 Tanpınar, Beş Şehir, p. 160.

22 Tanpınar, Beş Şehir, pp. 257-259.

23 Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, Huzur, Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2000, pp. 45-46.

24 “This arcade has been a part of the city life, it has recounted its one part since the beginning. However, what has been speaking in Mümtaz was not what he has seen but his own life experience” (Tanpınar, Huzur, p. 56).

25 We can see traces of the relationship between the place (mekan) and existence from the word itself without going into the conceptual dimension. Kevn (the root of the word mekan) means to be, to exist, entity, body. The place is associated with entity and existence at the linguistic level. Thus it is impossible not to see this inevitable relationship in Huzur, similar to various works in which the city is among the actors of the novels.

26 This scene takes place in a similar regard in Tanpınar’s essay entitled, “Kenar Semtlerde Bir Gezinti.” Tanpınar says that during this walk this repartee in the game played by the girls will survive, even if everything else is changed; this is the secret of the “continuance of life” (see: Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, Yaşadığım Gibi, Istanbul: Dergâh Yayınları, 1996, pp. 213-214).

27 Tanpınar, Huzur, pp. 20-21.

28 İlhan Berk, Toplu Şiirler, Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2003, p. 41.

29 Berk, Toplu Şiirler, p. 43.

30 Berk, Toplu Şiirler, p. 441.

31 Berk, Toplu Şiirler, p. 337.

32 Berk, Toplu Şiirler, p. 1597.

33 Berk, Toplu Şiirler, p. 1658. Here some other poets/poems should be mentioned in relation to Berk’s Istanbul poems, bringing together various faces and residents of the city. While Edip Cansever is connected to Berk with the following poem, “While going from Tepebaşı to Pera/You will pass through a small area/Do not pass/There is a tiny shop on the right, it is mine/It reads FUR RENOVATOR YORGO;” Turgut Uyar says: “When they say Istanbul, what comes to my mind right away /is Vaiz Street /Edirnekapı, our home.” He writes more about his own home. Another Istanbul poet writing about the city as his own home and the small people of this city, much like Ilhan Berk, is Orhan Veli. The poem by Orhan Veli, as the representative of Garipçiler generation, which preceded the Second New, reads: “I’m a poor Orhan Veli in Bosphorus in Istanbul” or as “I’m listening to Istanbul/My eyes are shut.” The subject of the poem is constructed here as directly belonging to Istanbul, where Istanbul is connected with small people and where the ordinary and daily makes sense in the city. This can be associated with Sait Faik and the Istanbul stories writer of this essay, rather than Berk. When we move from Garip and Second New to today, we encounter the contemporary poet Birhan Keskin who has contact with the neural crests of the Istanbul of 2000s. Keskin who says, “I look like Istanbul a great deal my love/So much grief within so much desire,” or “Pera’s colorful, Balat’s feeble light” reflecting on “Golden Horn’s tired water,” and quietly saying, “Eyüp sleep nearby with a feeling of homesickness.” Thus the cruel and severe face of the city touches the face of the reader in the followings lines of the poem, “A Sniffer Passes by the Street,” “The dirt of the street slips through the stones of the street, it is slippery gents!/I never had eye contact with you./My eyes slipping, if you look you will see, everywhere is slipping.”

34 Foucault begins his book The Order of Things criticizing modernity with an example of the Chinese Encyclopedia, which cannot be considered within modern classification in Borges story (see: Michel Foucault, “The Order of Things”, Literary Theory: An Anthology, ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan, London: Blackwell Publishing, 1998, p. 377-385).

35 İlhan Berk, Pera, Istanbul: Adam Yayınlar, 1990, p. 71.

36 Berk, Pera, p. 74.

37 Sait Faik Abasıyanık, Bütün Eserleri 2: Şahmerdan Lüzumsuz Adam, Ankara: Bilgi Yayınevi, 1987, p. 119.

38 Cited from Simmel “Lüzumsuz Adam’da Yalnızlığın Toplumsal Dolayımı,” Bir İnsanı Sevmek: Sait Faik, ed. Süha Oğuzertem, Istanbul: Alkım Yayınları, 2005, pp. 127-146.

39 See: Sait Faik Abasıyanık, Bütün Eserleri 6: Havuz Başı Son Kuşlar, Ankara: Bilgi Yayınevi, 1970, p. 192.

40 Abasıyanık, Lüzumsuz Adam, p. 121.

41 We can place the Aylak Adam (the idle man), where the city and the crowds themselves become the shelter, immediately opposed to Sait Faik’s story; here the city and the crowds become a place to avoid and where the quest for a shelter comes forward. Although Istanbul might not be considered to be a direct actor in Yusuf Atılgan’s book, it is possible to claim that the city and the life style of Istanbul’s middle class is placed at the center of the novel and the idle character demonstrates his reaction to this life style by getting into the heart of the city and the crowds, watching them without living like them and by behaving against their rules rather than escaping from the city. In this regard, the city turns into a conflicted and tense area, which oppresses, imprisons and uniforms the individual and enables them to be free at the same time. The city where Mümtaz wanders through the streets in Huzur and which is shaped by the tensions of the internal world evolves into a frightening openness where the character is imprisoned in the streets of its small neighborhood in “Lüzumsuz Adam” and into the dark place of modernity that threatens the individual constantly to squeeze and swallow in Aylak Adam (see: Yusuf Atılgan, Aylak Adam, Istanbul 2013). On the other hand, a completely different face of Istanbul, its periphery, the shanty towns, become the protagonist of the novel in works by Latife Tekin, but particularly with Berci Kristin Çöp Masalları (Berji Kristin: Tales from the Garbage Hills) in 1980s. Tekin’s novel focuses on a new Istanbul that has been altered by migration and re-established; these are set aside at the periphery of the city. This is also the messenger of class transformation. The workers, peasants, the non-urban, uneducated and poor - who were able to meet with the reader previously thanks to village literature, homeland literature or socialist-realist literature - become the actor of the novel in the city this time through a new collective life style, as a collective subjectivity. Berci Kristin’s Istanbul displays a different scenery with which the literature was not familiar in the past, a new world established out of the waste and garbage of the city (see: Latife Tekin, Berci Kristin Çöp Masalları, Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 2012).

42 Pamuk, Istanbul, p. 12.

43 Pamuk, Istanbul, p. 91.

44 Pamuk, Istanbul, p. 13.

45 Pamuk, Istanbul, p. 39.

46 Pamuk, Istanbul, p. 47.

47 Pamuk, İstanbul, p. 99.

This article was translated from Turkish version of History of Istanbul with some editions to be published in a digitalized form in 2019.