Turkish literature

From Academic Kids

The history of Turkish Literature may be divided into three periods, reflecting the history of Turkish civilization as follows: the period up to the adoption of Islam, the Islamic period and the period under western influence.


Literature Prior the Adoption of Islam

Turkish literature was the joint product of the Turkish clans and was mostly oral. The oldest known examples of Turkish writings are on obelisks dating from the late 7th and early 8th centuries. The Orhun monumental inscriptions written in 720 for Tonyukuk, in 732 for Kültigin and in 735 for Bilge Kagan are masterpieces of Turkish literature with their subject matter and perfect style. Turkish epics dating from those times include the Yaratılış, Saka, Oguz-Kagan, Göktürk, Uyghur and Manas. The Book of Dede Korkut, put down in writing in the 14th century, is an extremely valuable work that preserves the memory of that epic era in beautiful language.

Literature After the Adoption of Islam

Following Turkish migrations into Anatolia in the wake of the Malazgirt victory in 1071, the establishment of various Anatolian beyliks and the eventual founding of the Seljuk and Ottoman Empires set the scene for Turkish literature to develop along two distinct lines, with Divan literature or classical literature drawing its inspiration from the Arabic and Persian languages and Turkish folk literature still remaining deeply rooted in Central Asian traditions.

Divan poets did not have independent philosophies, they were content to express the same ideas in different ways. The magnificence of the poet came from his artistry in finding original and beautiful forms of expression. Initially based on two foreign literary traditions, Arab and Persian, literature gradually stopped being merely imitative and took on Ottoman national characteristics.

To a certain extent, the Turkish folk literature which has survived till our day, reflects the influence of Islam and the new life style and form of the traditional literature of Central Asia after the adoption of Islam. Turkish folk literature comprised anonymous works of bard poems and Tekke (mystical religious retreats) literature. Yunus Emre who lived in the second half of the 13th and early 14th centuries was an epoch making poet and sufi (mystical philosopher) expert in all three areas of folk literature as well as divan poetry.

Turkish Folk Literature

Divan Literature (Under Arabic and Persian Influence)

Literature under Western Influence

Turkish Literature was also influenced by the Western Literature. Changes in social, economic and political life were reflected in the literature of the time and the quest for change continued till the proclamation of the Republic. The distinguishing characteristic of the era in literature was the concern with intellectual content rather than esthetic values or perfection of style. The latest period in literature, which is known as the Turkish Literature of the Republican period, came to be influenced by the following literary schools after Divan literary styles had been abandoned: Tanzimat (reforms), Servet-i Fünun (scientific wealth), Fecr-i Ati (dawn of the new age) and Ulusal Edebiyat (national literature).

The Tanzimat, Servet-i Fünun and Fecr-i Ati groups who came together to create a modern Turkish literature made great strides towards this aim, but their works stopped short of being a national literature with distinctive characteristics. In spirit, it was French-oriented, in language and style it was traditional and Ottoman.

National Literature was created between the years 1911 and 1923.

The Republic later encompassed practically all national literary figures in the fields of culture, ideology and literature. The first decade of the Republic bore the stamp of the National Literature movement, wherein the simple clear language, poetic forms and syllabic metre of folk literature and topics from Turkey were favoured.

The topics, written in simple language, were taken from real life and mirrored the conditions of the country. A unity was created in which all artists: Islamic, Ottoman, traditionalist and individualist could be a part, because the issue was not the concept of the trend of national literature, but the period itself of national literature.

The first poets of the Republican Period used simple language and the syllabic metre.

Tanzimat Literature (1860-1880)

First Period

Second Period

Servet-i Fünun (1880-1896)

Fecr-i Ati (1896-1911)

National Literature (1911-1923)

Republican Period Literature (1923- )

nl:Lijst van Turkse literaire schrijvers


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