Research Article


DOI :10.26650/YTA2024-1364389   IUP :10.26650/YTA2024-1364389    Full Text (PDF)

Disabled Veteran Characters in Turkish Literature from the Armistice through the Republican Period and the Perception of Disabled Veterans

Mehmet Beşikçi

From a historian’s point of view, this article focuses on how the disabled veterans of the Ten-Year War (1912-1922) were represented in Turkish literature from the Armistice through the Republican periods. Dealing specifically with novels and stories, the article discusses that the existing approach to disabled veterans, which was quite problematic in the era under study, was also reflected in the literary texts produced in this period. On the other hand, these literary texts themselves were among the factors that shaped this troubled perception. In that respect, the article underlines three main problems. First, ableist biases and the masculine perspective fed by militarist motifs led to the creation of a stereotyped disabled veteran character in literary texts; in this stereotype, disabled veterans are regarded as incompatible with the image of “an ideal masculine soldier”. Second, instead of being analyzed in depth within their own real and complex contexts, disabled veteran characters are usually used as auxiliary elements to strengthen a different message in the political-ideological agenda of authors and their texts. Third, as a result of ableist biases, disabled veteran characters were always obliged to achieve extraordinary duties in these literary texts, as if they needed to do this to compensate for their physical “deficiencies”. Though the main focus of the article is the early Republican era (1923-1946), it extends its time period until 1981; it also deals with the social realist literary perspective in order to make a comparison.

DOI :10.26650/YTA2024-1364389   IUP :10.26650/YTA2024-1364389    Full Text (PDF)

Mütareke’den Cumhuriyet’e Türk Edebiyatında Malûl Gazi Tiplemeleri ve Malûl Gazi Algısı

Mehmet Beşikçi

Bu makale, bir tarihçi bakış açısından, On Yıllı Harp döneminin (1912-1922) malûl gazilerinin Mütareke’den Cumhuriyet’e uzanan süreçte Türk edebiyatında nasıl temsil edildiklerine odaklanmaktadır. Spesifik olarak roman ve hikâye türündeki metinleri ele alan makale, Türkiye’deki sorunlu malûl gazi algısının bir yandan söz konusu dönemin edebiyatına da yansıdığını, ama diğer yandan bu sorunlu algınının şekillendirici faktörlerinden birinin de bizatihi bu edebî metinlerin olduğunu tartışmaktadır. Bu açıdan makalede başlıca üç sorunun altı çizilmektedir. Bunlardan biri, sakatlara yönelik sağlamcı önyargıların ve militarist motiflerin beslediği eril bakış açısının bir tür kalıp yargı malûl gazi tiplemesi ürettiğidir; bu kalıp yargıda malûl gaziler “ideal erkek asker” imgesiyle uyumsuz addedilir. İkinci sorun, malûl gazi tiplemeleri derinlemesine ve kendi gerçek ve karmaşık kontekstlerinde analiz edilen edebî karakterler olmaktan ziyade, genellikle yazarın ve metnin kendi siyasî-ideolojik gündemi içerisinde vurgulamak istediği başka bir mesajı kuvvetlendirmeye yarayan yan unsurlar olarak kullanılırlar. Üçüncü sorun ise sağlamcı önyargıların bir sonucu olarak, edebî metinlerdeki malûl gazi tiplemeleri, sanki bedensel eksikliklerini “telafi” etmek için buna mecburlarmış gibi, hep olağanüstü işler başarmak zorunda bırakılırlar. Makale ağırlıklı olarak Cumhuriyet’in kuruluş dönemine (1923-1946) odaklanmakla birlikte, toplumcu gerçekçi edebî metinlerle bir mukayese yapma adına 1981’e kadar uzanmaktadır.


EXTENDED ABSTRACT


From the Armistice period through the Republican era, the approach of both the state and the society towards disabled veterans was quite problematic. The state had difficulty providing a satisfactory welfare umbrella for disabled veterans and, on the other hand, it was also reluctant to let them establish large-scale autonomous civic associations through which they could demand measures to improve their situation. On a more general social level, despite the glorification of military culture within the framework of national identity and the abundant use of militarist motifs, ableist biases towards disabled veterans were still very strong. This article focuses on how disabled veterans of the Ten-Year War (1912-1922) were represented in Turkish literature from the Armistice through the Republican periods. By using the literary texts that were produced in the period under study from a historian’s point of view, its aim is to better understand the existing perception of disabled veterans in particular and disability in general. Dealing specifically with novels and stories, the article discusses that the existing approach to disabled veterans, which was quite problematic in the era under study, was also reflected in the literary texts produced in this period. However, the article also discusses that these literary texts themselves were among the factors that shaped this troubled perception. In that respect, the article underlines three main problems. 

Firstly, it seems that persistent ableist biases and the masculine perspective fed by militarist motifs led to the creation of an almost stereotyped disabled veteran character in literary texts. A main distinctive feature of this stereotype is that it tends to regard disabled veterans as incompatible with the image of “an ideal masculine soldier”. That ideal image was actually very strong the literature of the era. For example, Yakup Kadri  Karaosmanoğlu’s Kiralık Konak (1922) [Mansion for Rent] is one of the perfect texts to trace this masculine soldier image. Hakkı Celis, its main male character, turns into a “real man” when he is enlisted as a reserve officer to serve in Çanakkale. Becoming a soldier is portrayed as a kind of catharsis, a transition from being a fragile and snob boy into a strong and well-built masculine man. In this perspective, disability is seen as a cause of incompatibility primarily because it would undermine the manliness and masculinity of a soldier. For example, the story of Ali Seyfi, a reserve officer serving in Çanakkale in Peyami Safa’s (aka Serve Bedi) Ateş (1944) [The Fire] is a perfect case of this anxiety. When severely wounded on the front, Ali Seyfi loses not only a leg, but also his genital organ. In the novel, this loss is described as the greatest disaster that can happen to a soldier. As discussed in the article, this anxiety of losing manliness, both literally and metaphorically, has also had wider repercussions in Turkish nationalism. 

Secondly, instead of being analyzed in depth within their own real and complex contexts, disabled veteran characters are usually used as auxiliary elements to strengthen a different message in the political-ideological or moral agenda of authors and their literary texts. In other words, in such cases a disabled veteran character is used as a tool to convey to the reader another, and possibly more “lofty” mission. For example, Ahmet Celâl in Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu’s Yaban (1932) [The Alien], a disabled ex-reserve officer who lost his right arm in the First World War and re-settled in a village near Eskişehir, is actually a functional character to underline the legitimacy of the Turkish National Struggle.

And thirdly, in the shadow of the hegemonic masculine and militarist body image blended with ableist biases, disabled veteran characters are often forced to achieve extraordinary duties in the literary texts produced during the period under study. They are forced to take an extraordinary action, as if they need to do this to compensate their physical deficiencies or, as if this is necessary for them to become “legitimate” literary characters. For example, although Tarık Buğra’s Küçük Ağa (1974) [The Little Agha] is a relatively recent literary text, it does not make any “revision” in terms of the stereotyped disabled veteran characters in Turkish literature; as a matter of fact, it reproduces many of the symptoms that those characters suffer from, through the character of Salih the One Armed (Çolak). Salih lost his right arm on the Iraqi front in the First World War. As soon as he returns to his hometown Akşehir, not only is his disability not appreciated by local people, he is also forced to constantly re-prove himself. That appreciation is only shown when Salih trains himself to become a sharpshooter with a pistol, joins the Nationalist Forces (Kuvayı Milliye) and becomes a warrior again.

Though the main focus of the article is the early Republican era (1923-1946), it also extends its time period until the 1980s. It deals with the social realist literary perspective in order to make a comparison. In that respect, disabled veteran characters in the novels of Orhan Kemal and Kemal Tahir are analyzed and compared to those portrayed during the early Republican period. 


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APA

Beşikçi, M. (2024). Disabled Veteran Characters in Turkish Literature from the Armistice through the Republican Period and the Perception of Disabled Veterans. Recent Period Turkish Studies, 0(45), 169-207. https://doi.org/10.26650/YTA2024-1364389


AMA

Beşikçi M. Disabled Veteran Characters in Turkish Literature from the Armistice through the Republican Period and the Perception of Disabled Veterans. Recent Period Turkish Studies. 2024;0(45):169-207. https://doi.org/10.26650/YTA2024-1364389


ABNT

Beşikçi, M. Disabled Veteran Characters in Turkish Literature from the Armistice through the Republican Period and the Perception of Disabled Veterans. Recent Period Turkish Studies, [Publisher Location], v. 0, n. 45, p. 169-207, 2024.


Chicago: Author-Date Style

Beşikçi, Mehmet,. 2024. “Disabled Veteran Characters in Turkish Literature from the Armistice through the Republican Period and the Perception of Disabled Veterans.” Recent Period Turkish Studies 0, no. 45: 169-207. https://doi.org/10.26650/YTA2024-1364389


Chicago: Humanities Style

Beşikçi, Mehmet,. Disabled Veteran Characters in Turkish Literature from the Armistice through the Republican Period and the Perception of Disabled Veterans.” Recent Period Turkish Studies 0, no. 45 (Jul. 2024): 169-207. https://doi.org/10.26650/YTA2024-1364389


Harvard: Australian Style

Beşikçi, M 2024, 'Disabled Veteran Characters in Turkish Literature from the Armistice through the Republican Period and the Perception of Disabled Veterans', Recent Period Turkish Studies, vol. 0, no. 45, pp. 169-207, viewed 24 Jul. 2024, https://doi.org/10.26650/YTA2024-1364389


Harvard: Author-Date Style

Beşikçi, M. (2024) ‘Disabled Veteran Characters in Turkish Literature from the Armistice through the Republican Period and the Perception of Disabled Veterans’, Recent Period Turkish Studies, 0(45), pp. 169-207. https://doi.org/10.26650/YTA2024-1364389 (24 Jul. 2024).


MLA

Beşikçi, Mehmet,. Disabled Veteran Characters in Turkish Literature from the Armistice through the Republican Period and the Perception of Disabled Veterans.” Recent Period Turkish Studies, vol. 0, no. 45, 2024, pp. 169-207. [Database Container], https://doi.org/10.26650/YTA2024-1364389


Vancouver

Beşikçi M. Disabled Veteran Characters in Turkish Literature from the Armistice through the Republican Period and the Perception of Disabled Veterans. Recent Period Turkish Studies [Internet]. 24 Jul. 2024 [cited 24 Jul. 2024];0(45):169-207. Available from: https://doi.org/10.26650/YTA2024-1364389 doi: 10.26650/YTA2024-1364389


ISNAD

Beşikçi, Mehmet. Disabled Veteran Characters in Turkish Literature from the Armistice through the Republican Period and the Perception of Disabled Veterans”. Recent Period Turkish Studies 0/45 (Jul. 2024): 169-207. https://doi.org/10.26650/YTA2024-1364389



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Submitted21.09.2023
Accepted13.05.2024
Published Online05.07.2024

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