Adımlar to Western Literature in Turkiye of the 1940’sServet Tiken
Adımlar, which was founded by Behice Boran in 1943, made important contributions to the world of thought and literature. The magazine, which had a wide staff of writers, adopted the principle of opening new horizons for Turkish intellectual life. The magazine featured writers such as Nermin Menemencioğlu, Hilmi Ziya Ülken, Zeki Baştımar, Jean Camborde, Walter Ruben, Liko Amar, Yunus Kazım Köni, Bekir Kunt, Nurullah Ataç, Suat Taşer, Rıfat Ilgaz, Sabahattin Ali, Kemal Bilbaşar and Orhan Kemal, and especially Behice Boran and Muzaffer Şerif Başoğlu. Despite the unfavourable conditions of the World War II years, the journal followed Western literature closely. Aiming to introduce contemporary Western literature to the Turkish reader, it highlighted progressive and socialist authors and their works. The magazine, which described itself as populist, brought a unique perspective to the humanist approaches that came to the fore at the time of its publication. The magazine, which saw the source of humanism in the people and maintained that national culture and humanism are not contradictory to each other, turned to Western literature with a “popular humanist” perspective, and highlighted the products of Western literature that it considered “advanced” and “populist” in order to broaden people’s artistic and cultural tastes. The magazine revealed both the reflection of the war, one of humanity’s greatest disasters, on Western literature and the interaction between literature and society. In addition, with evaluations that were dominated by an understanding of sociological criticism, Adımlar brought theoretically pioneering approaches to the sociology of literature, which had not yet found a full application at the academic level in Turkiye. In this context, this article introduces Adımlar and discusses the journal’s approaches to Western literature. Attention has been drawn to the journal’s previously neglected contributions to the discipline of sociology of literature by academes in Turkiye.
1940’lı Yılların Türkiye’sinde Batı Edebiyatına AdımlarServet Tiken
Behice Boran tarafından 1943 yılında yayımlanmaya başlayan Adımlar; düşünce ve edebiyat dünyasına önemli katkılar yapmıştır. Geniş bir yazar kadrosuna sahip olan dergi, Türk düşünce hayatına yeni ufuklar açmayı ilke edinmiştir. Dergide başta Behice Boran ve Muzaffer Şerif Başoğlu olmak üzere Nermin Menemencioğlu, Hilmi Ziya Ülken, Zeki Baştımar, Jean Camborde, Walter Ruben, Liko Amar, Yunus Kâzım Köni, Bekir Kunt, Nurullah Ataç, Suat Taşer, Rıfat Ilgaz, Sabahattin Ali, Kemal Bilbaşar ve Orhan Kemal gibi isimlerin imzaları bulunur. Dergi, II. Dünya Savaşı yıllarının olumsuz şartlarına rağmen Batı edebiyatını yakından izlemiştir. Çağdaş Batı edebiyatını Türk okuruna tanıtmayı hedefleyerek ilerlemeci ve toplumcu olarak nitelediği yazarları ve onların eserlerini öne çıkarmıştır. Kendini halkçı olarak nitelendiren dergi, yayımlandığı dönemde gündeme gelen hümanist yaklaşımlara kendine özgü bir bakış açısıyla eşlik etmiştir. Hümanizmin kaynağını halkta gören, millî kültür ve hümanizmin birbirine karşıt olmadığını savunan dergi, “halkçı hümanist” bakış açısıyla Batı edebiyatına yönelmiş, halkın sanat ve kültür zevkini yükseltmek için “ileri” ve “halkçı” olarak değerlendirdiği Batı edebiyatı ürünlerini örnek göstermiştir. İnsanlık için büyük felaketlerden biri olan savaşın Batı edebiyatı üzerine yansımasını da sayfalarına taşıyan dergi, edebiyat ve toplum arasındaki etkileşimi gözler önüne sermiştir. Ayrıca sosyolojik eleştiri anlayışının hâkim olduğu değerlendirmelerle Adımlar, Türkiye’de henüz akademik düzeyde tam anlamıyla uygulama alanı bulamamış edebiyat sosyolojisine kuramsal açıdan öncü yaklaşımlar getirmiştir. Bu bağlamda makalede Adımlar dergisi tanıtılarak derginin Batı edebiyatına dair yaklaşımları ele alınmıştır. Derginin edebiyat sosyolojisi disiplinine yaptığı Türkiye’de akademik çevrelerce ihmal edilmiş katkılara dikkat çekilmiştir.
As one of the periodicals that contributed to the world of culture, art and thought in 1940’s Turkiye, Adımlar succeeded in leaving a remarkable imprint in its short history. Adımlar, which first appeared in May 1943 and defined itself as the “Monthly Journal of Ideas and Culture”, continued its publication for 12 issues until it was closed in April 1944. Continuing its publication despite the harsh social and political conditions of World War II, the journal brought various approaches to culture and art with its wide staff of writers.
Closely following international and Turkish art and literature movements of the 1940s, Western art and literature were presented in a section titled “This Month” in every issue. There were also articles where recent developments in art and literature were evaluated. In the “Publications” section of the journal, translated works from Western literature were introduced to the reader. In addition, translations of Western novels, stories and poems were also included in the magazine. Analysis and comments on Western literature in Adımlar were made by academics, translators and researchers with a command of Western languages and literature, such as Behice Boran, Nermin Menemencioğlu, Jean Camborde, Walter Ruben and Burhan Arpad.
A distinguished team of writers, who had themselves written works and done translation in the fields of art and literature, wrote articles in Adımlar evaluating French literature, primarily, along with American, English and German literature. In terms of genre, the magazine emphasized the novel and presented it from a more social point of view. Evaluations focusing on the relationship between the current age and the novel genre came to the fore. This point of view, which reflects the influence of owner and editor-in-chief Behice Boran’s academic identity, led to approaches to the Western novel within the framework of literary sociology.
Adımlar, which drew attention to works from Western literature in order to contribute to the development of Turkish intellectual life, emphasized the transition that the world was experiencing during the war years. With an understanding that nations were in material and spiritual exchange with each other in this period, it kept up with the world and expressed the desire for Turkiye to meet the future as a “nation with advanced technology and culture”.
During its short publication period, Adımlar succeeded in bringing discussions and commentary in Western and Turkish intellectual life together with its readers by presenting an example of cultural and intellectual publishing that opens its doors to Western thought. In the 1940s, research, discussion and commentary around humanism, which came to the fore within the framework of Hasan Ali Yücel’s cultural policies, were favoured by Adımlar as well, and they declared that it was a publication that adopted humanist discourse as a principle. By publishing a humanism questionnaire, it provided a space for the views of Turkish and Western researchers, academics and writers, and brought the “People’s Humanism” approach to the fore. This humanist attitude, which was the source of the magazine’s interest in Western literature, made an intellectual contribution to Turkiye in the 1940s.
It is seen that the sociological perspective comes to the fore in the evaluations of Western literature in Adımlar. The magazine introduced contemporary Western writers, in particular French novelists, and emphasized socialist realist writers. Accordingly, the subjects that authors such as Andre Malraux, Paul Nizan, John Steinbeck and Erich Maria Remarque dealt within their works were included. As a reflection of the populist humanist approach it adopted, the journal highlighted works in which wars, economic and social inequalities are interpreted from a critical point of view. It has been stated that literature should mirror social problems and produce solutions, and the importance of socialist realist art understanding was emphasized.
One of the aspects that distinguishes Adımlar in Turkish cultural and intellectual life was its attitude during World War II. drawing attention to the destruction caused by the war, the magazine represented an anti-war approach that put human values at the centre. The magazine, which reacted to the disaster caused by Nazi Germany in Europe from the perspective of literature and art, became an oppositional voice against the political perspective that was dominant in Turkiye during the Second World War. With its understanding of thought, art and literature, Adımlar was exposed to high criticism from the Turkist-Turanist circles that gained strength in the early 1940s. The journal, which existed in the harsh political climate of the Second World War years, succeeded in being effective in a strictly controlled publication period.
As an art and literature magazine in Turkiye in the 1940s, Adımlar tried to stay away from current political debates but did not avoid being party to harsh debates. It contributed to the literary climate with the “populist” perspective it adopted. Thanks to its publication policy, the journal drew attention to the importance of intercultural interaction by pulling back the curtain on the communication channels of World War II.