joomla
A LITERARY MOVEMENT IN THE PERIOD OF ABDЬLHAMНD IN THE MEMORIES: SERVET-I FЬNUN SOCIETY
Філологія - Вісник Київського національного університету імені Тараса Шевченка

This study can be considered a new look at the Period of Servet-i Fьnun in the light of what the writers in this period wrote. We tried to find an answer for some questions such as how the youth who gathered around Servet-i Fьnun were educated, what kind of works they worked at, how they met each other, how they established a relation with the palace and the political power, how their literary life continued after the journal was closed. We tried to find an answer for the personal lives of literary names based on social life, which is often ignored by literary histories. Key words: Servet-i Fьnun, author, work, period, memoirs

Запропоновано новий погляд на літературний гурт "Сервет-і фюнюн" через аніліз творчого доробку та громадського життя представників названого гурту. Визначено наріжні тенденції літературної творчості представників гурту.

Mme de Stael elucidates what kind of shortfalls did century: "In this piece of work, I aimed at investigating result in her work Edebiyata Dair, at the end of the 18th what kinds of influence religion, customs, and law have

© Nesнme Ceyhan, 2009


On literature. There are such books in French about the experience of writing and principles of appreciation that there is no insufficiency about this point; however, I be­lieve that the moral and political reasons that change the spirit of literature have not been analyzed suffi­ciently." [;1] It is since we realized that the moral and political reasons that change the spirit of literature are the same reasons that change the human spirit, the relationship of literature with man, social life, and history have always been a focus of attention for researchers.

In this article, the author attempts at suggesting a tripartite viewpoint of era, people, and literature on the writers of the Edebiyat-i Cedide (New Literature) or Servet-i Funun (Wealth of Sciences) movement, who were recorded in the history of our literature as "the generation sprang from autocracy," having established a literary school.

A Group of Young Writers and Poets in the Last Quarter of the 19th Century

A group of young writers and poets coming from middle - class families, who were well-educated, aged between 20 and 30, and grew up in diverse settings were to come together in Istanbul in 1896. These young people born in 1870s were the people of an era in which their country as well as the whole world was in a rapid change. It was obvious that the Ottoman Empire was falling down; Tunisia, Egypt, and Crete had been occu­pied; Russo-Ottoman War had broken out; Istanbul had come face-to-face with terror, panic, and notable levels of poverty. Grief prevailed since those who left their homes did not return and it was not possible to replace what was lost. At that time, Abdulhamid started to im­plement sanctions desperately in the heat of the Em­pire's collapse.

This period, when the country was at the edge of a more grave chaos, overlaps with the adolescence pe­riod of the members of Servet-i Funun. In their mem­oirs,2 penned later in their lives, it is significant that they do not mention anything about this atmosphere and decline, apart from several sentences written by Halid Ziya. The only social problems expressed are about Sultan Abdulhamid, espionage and censorship. We be­lieve that why this uneasiness was completely based on this tripod is connected to the fact that all of the mem­oirs were published in the first 15 years of the Republic. []3 It is evident that troubles of the fallen Empire did not consist of these alone.

In Tevfik Fikret, Mehmet Kaplan states that "feeling the disasters strongly but not being able to express it under the pressure of autocracy, and not being able to yell led to the spiritual changes that are diagnosed in lonely individuals by psychiatrists to prevail the whole society. These spiritual changes need to be scrutinized

2 The memoirs surveyed include: Mehmet Rauf, Edebi Hatiralar, Istanbul: 1997, Kitabevi Yayinlari; Ahmet ihsan Tokgoz, Matbuat Hatiralarim, Istanbul: 1993, ileti^im Yayinlari; Ahmet Rasim, Mu - harrir, §air, Edib, Istanbul:1980, Tercuman 1001 Temel Eser; Halid Ziya U^akligil, Kirk Yil, Istanbul: 1987, inkilap Kitabevi; Ali Ekrem Bolayir'in Hatiralari, (ed. M. Kayahan Ozgul), istanbul: 1991, KB Yayinlari; Huseyin Cahid Yalpin, Edebiyat Anilari, Istanbul:1975, i§ Bankasi Yayinlari; Ru§en E§ref Unaydin, Diyorlar ki, Istanbul: 1972, MEB Yayinlari.

3 Mehmet Rauf serialized his memoirs in 1920, 1922 and 1927. Ahmet ihsan published his memoirs in 1931, Ahmet Rasim in 1924, Halid Ziya in 1936, and Huseyin Cahid in 1935. Ali Ekrem started to write down his memoirs in 1931.

Since they had influenced the Servet-i Funun litera­ture". However, either in their works written in that pe­riod or in the works written later about that period, apart from complaints about autocracy, no clues can be found about the picture of a country that people lived in a collapsing country, one which was falling down, where lives were lost continuously in the fronts. Even if censorship had prevented these facts to be expressed openly in that period, the slightest clue about grief was not penned in the memoirs although they were written later.

Mehmet Rauf, in his memoirs,[3] and Huseyin Cahid, during a chat with Ru§en E§ref,[4] say that they made up the motto "art is for art's sake" to be able to elude cen­sorship. Even, Mehmet Rauf says that "Each and every one of us was not far from becoming almost communist revolutionaries." Nevertheless, no traces of their revolu­tionary sides are evident after the proclamation of the second constitutional monarchy in 1908. Only Tevfik Fikret and Huseyin Cahid were to join the ittihat ve Terakki Partisi (Union and Progress Party). The unique personality, who had dedicated his life to policy, al­though quite a while after the disintegration of Servet-i Funun, was Huseyin Cahid.

This generation, most of whom came from lower - middle-class families, of parents working as state offi­cials, had become acquainted with Western languages and art at very early ages, preferring to take refuge in the individual romanticism that prevailed the Western literature at that period. There seems to be two reasons for this preference; one being their nature and the other being their offices of state service, of which they cannot endure to stay out. Halid Ziya worked in Reji and was in continuous contact with the palace; whereas, Ali Ekrem, Ahmet Re§it Rey, and Mu§tak Efendi worked in the Ma - beyn-i Humayun (the section of the palace where state affairs take place) as clerks; Huseyin Cahid worked in the Ministry of Education; Mehmet Rauf had graduated from Naval School and became a seaman; whereas, Cenab was sent to Paris by the government for medical education, and, upon his return from Paris, he was ap­pointed superintendent of health in Jeddah and then transferred to the Quarantine Administration. Among them, only Tevfik Fikret did not need the earnings he made from his duty of teaching in Galatasaray Sultanisi (Galatasaray High School) or in Robert College. As stated by Ahmet ihsan, "he did not receive his salaries pertaining to his duty at the Consultation House in the government."[5] He adds that he sometimes asked Fikret, who received an allowance of 15 gold coins from his father, who was the Akka governor, whether his impul­sive and neurotic behaviors were due to the fact that he was far from being in need financially.[6]

These young people blossomed in diverse settings and schools had had common interests when they were growing up. Almost all of them attempted to translate one of the well known novels of the day or they tried writing their own novels. Mehmet Rauf, when he was already sixteen or seventeen, as a student in the Naval School, had been a fan of Daudet, Flaubert and Sapho. Having learned English and French in his school, he had admired French works rather than those in Turkish. Similar were Halid Ziya's childhood readings: Jules Verne, Louis Figuier, Camille Flamarion, Pierre Zaccon, Eugene Sue, Paul Feval, Ponson du Terrail. His tutor in the Denominational School in the city of izmir a book list including classics and romanticists, as well as Voltaire's Dictionary of Philosophy. Therefore, Halid Ziya tended to read Concourt, Zola, Stendhal, Balzac, and Daudet when he was not already eighteen. On the other hand, Huseyin Cahid was such acquainted with the Western literature that he could attempt to translate a novel when he was fifteen.

The common aspects of the texts they had read just in their adolescence banded this generation together around a common sense of taste; in addition, in that period a boom of translating popular books prevailed the book market. With regard to why Namik Kemal's soul did not continue in this generation, almost all of whom regarded Kemal with much respect and admira­tion, it can be asserted that readings of Fenelon, Rous­seau, Voltaire, and Racine, by which Kemal had been nurtured, were replaced by the glittering novels of the age that then prevailed the whole world. Why there was a collective indolence and a diseased submission in the society, as well as taking refuge in glittering foreign lives, was mostly due to the fact that the period had turned out to be one that was very difficult to live in for the society. While Istanbul was hosting miserable refu­gees and wounded soldiers in its streets and houses, Booksellers/Publishers Karabet and Arakel were in a rush to overtake the demand for glittering books.

Young Poets and Writers Gather Around Servet-i Funun

The gathering around the Servet-i Funun was one of literature loves devoid of any political motivation. Mehmet Rauf's first contact was in connection with a short story he sent to the Hizmet newspaper. Later, he personally got acquainted with Halid Ziya, who settled in Istanbul. Halid Ziya met Ali Ekrem and Ah­met ihsan on his own initiative and he got to know Ahmet Midhat and Muallim Naci through his efforts. Halid Ziya lived in the same neighborhood with Ah­met Hikmet Muftuoglu, who took him to Saffet-i Ziya. He heard the mention of Tevfik Fikret first from Huseyin Siret and Ahmet Hikmet; and it was Huseyin Siret, who introduced Halid Ziya to Tevfik Fikret.[7]

Before Fikret was introduced by Recaizade Ekrem to the managers of the Servet-i Funun journal, the mission of this journal was being fulfilled by the Mekteb journal.

Before the emergence of the Servet-i Funun journal, the office of the Mekteb journal would fill with the young writers and poets who had a progressive view of litera­ture. If the administration of the Mekteb journal had not been hit by problems, after which its team was fully transferred to the Servet-i Funun journal, we might to­day be talking about a "Mekteb movement" instead of a "Servet-i Funun movement." Upon recommendation from his brother Huseyin Suad, Huseyin Cahid started to publish Cenab §ehabeddin's poems in Mekteb. He published them because regarded them as western, "estranged from the eastern tradition with the sonnet form."[8] After publication, every poem received positive or negative reactions. Seeing the popularity of Cenab's poems, the journal decided to run a poll asking "Whose poems do you like most?" and, including also the an­swers from the employees of the journal, Cenab was announced as the winner. This in turn aggravated the attack on the Mekteb journal. Mehmet Rauf sent a reader's letter to Huseyin Cahid, in which he con­demned the attacks on Cenab, and this served as the first step toward the friendship among Rauf, Cenab and Huseyin Cahid. Mehmet Rauf later introduced them to Halid Ziya. Cenab §ehabeddin's poetry's impact on Turkish literary circles continued also in the Servet-i Funun journal. Actually, a close examination will reveal that almost all of the polemics that arose about the po­etry and language of the Servet-i Funun journal were about Cenab's poems. This implies that Cenab provided the dynamism for the Servet-i Funun poetry. But this was not clearly reflected in our history of literature. This can be attributable to the false assumption that Cenab dealt with wagon trading during the years of truce and was against the national struggle for independence that started in Anatolia.

The young people who got to know each other as explained above started to gather around the Servet-i Funun, the European style pictorial journal, just after Tevfik Fikret was proposed as the editor-in-chief of the journal.

The office of the journal turned into a meeting hall of literary men. The office was frequented by M. Rauf, A. Nadir (Ali Ekrem), H. Nazim (Ahmet Re§it Rey), Ahmet Hikmet Muftuoglu, Suleyman Nesib, Huseyin Siret, is­mail Safa, §eyhulislam Muhtar Bey, Huseyin Cahid, Ahmet §uayb, Faik Ali, Celal Sahir. Occasionally, Re­caizade Mahmud Ekrem, too, attended their meeting.

Those who argue that an independent literary movement has developed around the Servet-i Funun journal wrongly assume that a well-planned literary restoration initiative was conducted by the journal. Conversely, at that time, there were frequent at­tempts to effect restoration in literature, some by even Mutavassitin. If Ekrem and Naci had not quar­reled for no reason, it might have come out that Naci was as progressive as Ekrem. As Naci was posed against Ekrem, one came to represent the traditional while the other the progressive. No declaration was made public before the start of publication of the Servet-i Funun journal, and the literary figures who came together in the house of Fikret or in the office of the journal every week did not have special efforts to

Hьseyin Cahid Yalзin, Edebiyat Anilari, p. 67.

Give shape to literature. This is best explained by Halid Ziya:

"Some people thought that in these meetings, they exchanged opinions about the ideas, beliefs, and art conceptions of the prominent figures of the Edebiyat-i Cedide movements as well poetry, prose and, in short, everything about language, and in a sense, they deter­mined the conditions and fundamental principles of a special agreement in this field. It would be a childish illusion to think that there are such an agreement in these gatherings or meetings by several of the mem­bers of the movement... There was only one thing that united them under the roof of this literary movement called Edebiyat-i Cedide: the delight they had in writing.

They acted in union in terms of the joy of art. They would like the same things and keep away from the same things... If we reverse the western phrase, "Those who are alike will meet," to read, "Those who meet will be alike," this will explain their case better."[9]

After they come together and consider themselves as a front against their opponents, the offensive or the defensive done with the conception of "our side" or "their side" will lack quality. As mentioned above, they acted with a group psychology. The opponents of the Servet-i Funun included the journals Malumat, Resimli Gazete, irtika, Hazine-i Funun and the newspaper ik- dam. Confronted with so many opponents, the propo­nents of the Servet-i Funun movement clinched to­gether around the journal. For instance, Mehmet Rauf gives this childish answer the question, "Why does he like Fikret?": "Although Fikret's Musahabe-i Edebiyye series seems to me primitive and his poems weaker than those by Cenab, I started to like him as I under­stood from this first line I read from him that he was 11

"one of us."

After a while, it is understood that what glorifies the Servet-i Funun journal was the "other side." Polemics focused all attention on the journal. Ahmet Midhat called the followers the Servet-i Funun movements as "deca­dents" based on the language they used and attacks from the myriad of the movement's opponent journals and newspapers and the defense from the movement followed, and finally Midhat agreed to accept them as they were. But this served as the beginning of disinte­gration in the movement as the writers of the Servet-i Funun journal started to criticize each other in the lack of any external threat. Losing their solidarity, they bred animosity toward each other. A. Nadir and H. Nazim were transferred to Malumat journal. Huseyin Cahid's essay titled "Literature and Law" was prosecuted, after which the journal was closed down by the Palace. Al­though Ahmet ihsan exerted great efforts and obtained permission to re-establish the journal, Fikret's resigna­tion from the journal effectively killed the prospects about the future of the journal. Publication of the journal continued even after the establishment of the republic, but it was no longer the same journal. We will explain below how the journal came to the attention of the Pal­ace and was eventually closed down by it on the pretext of the Huseyin Cahid's essay.

The answer to the question, "To what extent the poets and writers of the Servet-i Funun were alike?"

Will simultaneously answer the question whether the Servet-i Funun was an independent literary move­ment. For instance, ismail Safa was actually a poet from the past. It seems Huseyin Dani§ cannot be properly denominated as a Servet-i Funun poet just because he published twenty four poems --moreover, he had two poems published in irtika and Resimli Gazete in the same period. Even Fikret and Cenab are not alike. Furthermore, it is not possible to make a reasonable comparison between two poets since they styles largely differ. In addition, after the closure of the journal, all poets changed styles. As the rival journals attacked Cenab, the whole journal came to­gether to defend him and this led to better under­standing of Cenab's poetry, serving at the same time as an opportunity for explaining the things they pro­posed as innovations. This in turn facilitated the imi­tation of Cenab by the young people gathered around the journal. Fikret's career as a teacher and his ten­dency for protecting young people led to creation a group consisting of Fikret-like poets and writers. In short, it can be said that there are several poets and their disciplines within the Servet-i Funun movement.

The same applies to the question, "Are the texts by Halid Ziya, Mehmet Rauf and Huseyin Cahid alike?" Halid Ziya serialized his novel Mai ve Siyah, which is known for its social critique, in Servet-i Funun at a time when the polemics between proponents of Servet-i Funun and of old literature was at its peak. Thus, the phrase, "they were disconnected from the people and social life," commonly used to describe the Servet-i Funun movement, was already violated by the chief novel writer of the movement. A§k-i Memnu's percep­tion of the individual, too, is not independent of social life. On the other hand, Eylul is completely different from these two novels. Unlike them, it is extremely lifeless and truly individual. In a sense, the literary works that conform best to the movement's principles concerning prose are Huseyin Cahid's works because he created his prose not on his own ideas, but according to conser­vations and polemics carried out in the journal's office. When he left this atmosphere, he underwent the great­est transformation.

It can be said that the recurring themes in the works of the Servet-i Funun generation have been products of the environment in which they lived. For example, when the word "kebuter" (dove) is used prominently in a poem by Cenab or when the color "blue" was commended in the journal, the young fans of the journal would start to use these words abundantly in their poems. The "urge to escape" frequently attributed to the literary figures of the time as well as the plans of the group to settle in New Zealand and Fikret's poems "Ye§il Yurt," "O Belde," and "Omr-i Muhayyel" and Huseyin Cahid's Ha - yat-i Muhayyel, all inspired by these plans, represent the influence of the group.

The group insistently responded to the criticisms di­rected against any member of the group with a sense of solidarity. Their language use, which was the basic source of criticisms, was exaggerated as an expression of the group psychology: for instance, when their oppo­nents criticized their sentences beginning with "ve" (and), Huseyin Cahid dedicated his Hayat-i Muhayyel to Rauf, writing "Ve Raufa." Huseyin Cahid's response to ismail Habib Sevuk when he praised the plain language use of Cahid among Servet-i Funun writers implies that the criteria in language use were determined through imitation within the group: "He did not know that the plain language use by Rauf and me was due to our lack of knowledge. If had had the Arabic knowledge of Ce - nab and the rich vocabulary of Fikret, what master­pieces we would have written. I don't think Halid Ziya had extensive knowledge of Arabic, but he has sufficient Arabic and Persian vocabulary to reasonably embellish his sentences. Rauf and I were the most ignorant ones among them."12 Nevertheless, the language used both by Mehmed Rauf and by Huseyin Cahid was elaborated and complex on purpose. It seems that the unfinished compounds of Eylul are intentional.

Servet-i Funun Journal, its Library and Publications

When the publication in the Servet-i Funun is men­tioned, the first thing that comes to mind is censure. In their early careers, the literary men of the era saw the phrase "its publication is not permissible" on their works which were inspected by the Inspective and Ex­amination Board. Even Halid Ziya told in his memoirs that after he was interrogated due to an essay he wrote about the Sanskrit literature, he decided not to write a single letter anymore. The memoirs even list the censured words.

In such an atmosphere, Ahmet ihsan set off enthusi­astically to publish the Servet-i Funun journal with stan­dards followed by western journals. ihsan traveled to several European counties in order to procure the mate­rials needed for publication of the journal --though he did not fully explain how he managed to obtain the per­mit for travel at a time when even the people working for the foreign ministry could not freely go to Europe-- and he ordered materials in several countries and made deals with various printing houses before returning to the country. The photos published in the journal came to the notice of the palace and the interior ministry decided to pay 3,240 kurush monthly to the Servet-i Funun jour­nal with a view to ensuring the journal would be pub­lished in a manner fitting to the empire's grandeur. Also in line with ihsan's wishes, the Palace invited engraver Napier, who lived in Paris, to Istanbul to work for the journal with monthly wage of 9 golden liras and his em­ployment was announced in Takvim-i Vekayi.13

It is obvious that the Servet-i Funun journal did not face administrative difficulties from the start; rather, it was a popular journal supported by the Palace. Ekrem's connection to Servet-i Funun was established because of a personal gratitude. The Malumat journal quoted Recaizade Mahmud Ekrem's §emsa from the Asir newspaper, published in Salonika, without requesting permission from Ekrem. Ekrem did not react to it. But, the Servet-i Funun journal published an essay that re­viewed Ekrem's book and criticizing the injustice done to him. With an essay, Ekrem thanked Servet-i Funun for it, and this event served as a way for him to become closer to the journal. Later, Ekrem advised the journal to employ Tevfik Fikret as editor-in-chief. With Fikret, Servet-i Funun became a literature-oriented journal. Moreover, it was planned that the printing facilities of the journal should be used to print literary work as well.

12 Huseyin Cahit Yalpin, Edebiyat Anilari, p. 127.

13 Ahmet ihsan Tokgoz, Matbuat Hatiralarim, p. 62.

By establishing a library for Edebiyat-i Cedide, the jour­nal decided to convey the works to future generations.[10] This also would serve to promote the journal by boost­ing advertisement and circulation.[11] The office of the journal and the house of Fikret were frequented by many young people. The war against Greece erupted. As Halid Ziya unbelievingly pointed out, these meetings "were not raided by the Palace for unknown reasons" -­at that time, the Palace closely monitored any gathering by several people. Actually there was no reason for the Palace to raid these meetings because the prominent participants of these meetings were the people who had ex officio connections with the Palace. Why should the meetings organized by a journal supported by the Pal­ace be raided? Moreover, none of the participants had intentions for acting as revolutionaries and getting into hot waters. It is important that after the declaration of the constitutional monarchy, only Tevfik Fikret and Hьseyin Cahid became members of the ittihat ve Terakki Partisi despite the fact that all of them com­plained that they could not write freely in the Servet-i Fьnun journal because of the so-called pressures.

The reason why the Servet-i Fьnun movement caught the attention of the Palace, thereby triggering a set of events leading to the rapid closing down of the journal was that a group young people from the Servet-i Fьnun went to the British Embassy and de­clared their support to England in the Boer war. There was not an ounce of suspicion toward the Servet-i Fьnun circles until that incident after which the house of Fikret was raided. Hьseyin Siret, ismail Safa and Ubeydullah Efendi were sent to exile; and the journal was closed down under the pretext of pub­lication of Cahid's article. Even if it was not closed down, it had already lost its original dynamism. For a while, the printing house of the journal stopped pub­lishing literary works, which showed that the country was facing significant problems.

What happened after the journal was closed down? After the disintegration of the movement, its followers went to their own ways, and this shows that the Servet-i Fьnun type literature movement was a fash­ionable one. Fikret wrote rebellious poems between

1900 and 1909 and shifted to didactic and ideological poetry after 1909. Hьseyin Suat, Ali Ekrem, and Faik Ali were influenced by the Milli Edebiyat (National Lit­erature) movement which came to prominence after 1908 --and this impact can be partially explained by the fact that the country was going through a general war. Celal Sahir was a favorite poet during the last two years of the journal, but he established Fecr-i Ati after

1901 and then started to work for Tьrk Ocagi journal after becoming a member of the Turkish Association that was established in 1908. Actually, Cenab §eha - beddin, who can be properly dubbed as the only true poet of the Servet-i Fьnun movement, preserved his poetic style from beginning to end and when he quit writing poems, he gave emphasis to prose, and he died as a true Servet-i Fьnun follower. Mehmet Rauf had to make his living by writing, he started to produce popular writings with a simpler language. Hьseyin Ca - hid severed his connections to literature, devoting himself to politics. On his own volition, Halid Ziya sim­plified the language of his former works and continued to write novels, and although none of his latter novels was as potent as A§k-i Memnu, he was the second most powerful figure of the Servet-i Fьnun movement.

Надійшла до редколегії 21.11.08