An Example of Chaos in the Desired Change of a Society in Literature: Intibah

An Example of Chaos in the Desired Change of a Society in Literature: Intibah

Mahmut Abdullah Arslan (Erzincan University, Turkey) and Mehmet Özbaş (Erzincan University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6070-0.ch009


The Tanzimat Reform Movement aimed to give a new energy to a society which lost its confidence in life due to chaos. The expectation of the Ottoman society was to recover from this chaos. Influenced by Galip of Nicosia, Namik Kemal initially wrote classical poems of which form and content were old. After his acquaintance with Sinasi, he produced Western style works which were old in form but new in content. In his later works, both of these components were new. The subject matter of Intibah is simple and comes from social life. Intibah is regarded as the first literary novel of the Turkish literature written in Western novel technique including realistic depictions, places and psychological analyses. This chapter discusses the way the destruction of love, slavery, the women problem and imperfect aspects of family life in Ottoman society were handled by Namik Kemal. Both Namik Kemal and other modernists mentioned the problems but they could not offer deep solutions.
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Ne efsunkâr imişsin ah ey didâr-ı hürriyet!

Esîr-i aşkın olduk, gerçi kurtulduk esaretten.

What a magical thing you are, Oh face of independence!

We became the slaves of your love, no actually got rid of slavery.

Namık Kemal


The Uncertainty In Desired Change Of Behavior Of Ottoman Empire

According to a very popular paradigm that has prevailed in the scientific world since the ancient China/Greece “Chaos was the beginning of everything. Cosmos/order originated from chaos.” According to this statement made by Plato, the only way to reach chaos was only through chaos itself. Though our old world reached chaos in terms of its core and beginning, the residents themselves have always created chaos, and ruined the world order that works like a clock.

Though new developments were attempted in the military in Ottoman Empire during the 18th century and these reforms efforts continued during the reign of Mahmud II in the early 19th century, real Westernization could be said to have started in the Reform (Tanzimat) Period opened by the Rescript of Gulhane in 1839.

There is a new formation that has continued clearly since the beginning of this process that was called by the various authors in different time periods as “Temeddün/Medenileşme,” “Garplılaşma,” “Muasırlaşma,” “Avrupalılaşma,” “Batılılaşma,” “Teceddüt/Yenileşme,” “Uygarlaşma,” “Çağdaşlaşma,” “Modernleşme” and started from the early 18th century and has continued until today. With the start of the first movements inclined to the West and a tendency that has accelerated increasingly, this ongoing westernization subject has become a problem for our society. Even this westernization not only becomes problematic but also it constitutes a social depression (Ülken, 1979, p. 46; Turhan, 1980: 3) and an alienation (Doğan, 1991, p. 69-112) phenomenon. Turkists, though they have degree differences among themselves, agree with Islamists and join together against westerners. Each three movements, which accept modernization obligatorily in this way or another, think that reforms and reform problems are the direct results of the problems stemming from encountering western civilization (Kafadar, 1997, p. 63-64,127).

During the reform period, the rulers were generally the ones who either worked in consulates or had the experience in bureaucracy. Resit Pasha, creator of the Rescript of Gulhane, was the foreign minister. They were the ones who knew the West and spoke foreign languages. Besides, just like anyone, this new elitist bureaucracy got power since the tradition of transferring all the possessions to treasury after death had been abolished, and they dominated the ruling circles, and let the higher government positions become a from-father-to-son dispensation. New Ottomans struggled against this new elitist bureaucracy dictatorship, because the things that they wanted to get from the West were totally different. A new western imitation life style became widespread in upper circles of the society with the westernized spread of lifestyles of government rulers such as Ali and Fuat Pashas to other circles. Westernization brought alternatives into the lifestyles of Ottomans that had no objective equivalents in those lives and these alternatives replaced the things that had objective equivalents in our lives. With the Reform period, for the first time in history, we can see a duality among Ottoman intellectuals, in which Şinasi represents the West (modern) and Ahmet Cevdet Pasha represents the East (traditional). With the Reform period, Ottoman culture witnessed the appropriate pleasure and amusement tradition to be transformed into “pleasure rout” as Tanpınar described (Yavuz, 2009, pp. 23-24, 75). It can be seen that masculine characters came to the fore in the Reform period novels in comparison to Serveti Funun novels. Sir Ali is the primary identity of the novel Intibah by Namık Kemal. As in the other novels of this period, the novel presents the perception of modernity as European snobbery (Yavuz, 2013). This highlighted not only the addressing of those who saw Westernization as themselves and couldn’t practice it but also the case in which they could not process the modernity as themselves and left it like that.

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