Analyzing Kendime Dair (About Myself), The Autobiography of Ibnulemin Mahmut Kemal Inalİsmail Alperen Biçer
Ibnulemin Mahmut Kemal Inal’s autobiography Kendime Dair (About Myself), contains information about his birth, family, education, working life, literary personality, and works. Ibnulemin’s autobiography covers the period of the major wars that determined the fate of the Turkish state, the constitutional monarchy, the War of Independence, and the Republican Period. His remarkable text reflects the subjective world and emotional state of the author alongside the political, social, and cultural characteristics of the time. From an individual perspective, Kendime Dair contains information on the author’s self-definition, his emotional states, and pivotal events that represent breaking points in his life. Meanwhile, from a socio-cultural and ideological perspective, it comments on the censorship exercised over the press, the bureaucratic structures of the time, and the issue of “Unionism.” Through textual analysis, this article seeks to investigate Kendime Dair from both individuals and social, cultural, and ideological perspectives. Particular attention is given to the author's autobiographical memory, inner world, mood, position in his social and intellectual environment, and career
Abd-i Hakîrin Başına Gelenler: İbnülemin Mahmut Kemal İnal’ın Kendime Dair Başlıklı Otobiyografisi Üzerine Dikkatlerİsmail Alperen Biçer
Edebiyat hayatında biyografi türüne yoğunlaşan ve bu türde kaleme aldığı eserlerle edebiyat tarihinde kendine yer bulan İbnülemin Mahmut Kemal İnal doğumu, ailesi, öğrenimi, çalışma hayatı, edebî kişiliği ve eserlerine dair bilgileri ihtiva eden bir otobiyografi kaleme almıştır: Kendime Dair. Seksen altı yıllık ömründe Osmanlı Devleti’nin son zamanlarını, devletin kaderini belirleyen büyük ve bir o kadar mühim savaşları, Meşrutiyet, Millî Mücadele ve Cumhuriyet dönemlerini tecrübe eden İbnülemin’in otobiyografisi, yazarın öznel dünyasının ve duygu durumlarının yanı sıra dönemin siyasi, toplumsal ve kültürel özelliklerini yansıtması bakımından da dikkate değer bir metindir. İbnülemin, otobiyografisine doğumu ve aile büyüklerinin takdimiyle başlar; öğrenim ve çalışma hayatına dair bilgileri tarihlendirme konusundaki hassasiyetiyle kaydeder. Bireysel açıdan Kendime Dair, yazarın kendisini nasıl tanımladığına, duygu durumlarına ve hayatında birer kırılma noktası olma özelliği taşıyan hadiselere; sosyokültürel ve ideolojik açıdan ise matbuat üzerinde uygulanan sansüre, dönemin bürokratik yapısına ve ‘İttihatçılık’ meselesine dair bilgiler barındırır. İbnülemin’in kaleme aldığı Kendime Dair başlıklı otobiyografisini bireysel, toplumsal, kültürel ve ideolojik açıdan incelemeyi amaçlayan bu makalede metin tahlili yöntemi kullanılmış; yazarın otobiyografik belleğine, iç dünyasına, duygu durumuna, mensup olduğu sosyal ve entelektüel çevredeki konumuna ve iş yaşamına odaklanılmıştır.
This study investigates Kendime Dair (About Myself), the autobiography of Ibnulemin Mahmut Kemal Inal, who wrote many biographical works during his literary career. Ibnulemin’s autobiography was written in a style that conforms to the contexture and classification he employed in Son Asir Turk Sairleri (Turkish Poets of the Last Century). Through textual analysis, this article seeks to investigate Kendime Dair from individualistic, social, cultural, and ideological perspectives. The author’s autobiographical memory, his inner world (particularly his emotional state), his position in his social and intellectual milieu, and his business life are analyzed. Thus, the article proceeds as follows: First, Ibnulemin’s autobiography will be discussed in terms of the author’s self-presentation, the events he emphasizes as milestones in his life story, the collective self-image that emphasizes family unity, and the author’s emotional state in the face of his experiences. The text will be then evaluated from a social, cultural, and ideological perspective. The social standing of the author, the general characteristics of the period in which he wrote, and his long-standing relationship with the state as a bureaucrat is highlighted.
In Kendime Dair, which attracts attention with its 44 pages, Ibnulemin adopts a first-person perspective to express the memories that come to his mind from his own perspective. The events in the autobiography, which begins with his birth, introduces his family elders, and continues with his education, work, and literary life, are primarily arranged chronologically. However, the text sometimes diverges from strict chronological order. Undoubtedly, this was intended primarily to draw attention to the development of events and to ensure the integrity of meaning between them.
Both individual and collective self-descriptions of Ibnulemin have a quality that validates/ glorifies himself and his family members. This suggests that the autobiographer was motivated by a desire to provide or protect a positive self-perception as he “reconstructs” his self and his past. From this point of view, the autobiography can also be read as a defensive text in which the author responds to certain instances when was misunderstood, mishandled, or accused during his life.
While the sequence of events in autobiographies is usually chronological and thematic, they also include critical times and events that can be called seminal moments in the individual’s life. The most important such events that formed turning points in Ibnulemin’s life are as follows: The death of his brother Ahmet Tevfik, the fire in his mansion, the occupation of his mansion by French and British soldiers, and the classification of the documents of the Yildiz Palace.
Another incisive moment in Ibnulemin’s life was an incident during the invasion, so severe that it overshadowed the fire in the mansion and the resulting losses. After the First World War defeat, French soldiers came to the mansion on a Friday morning, declared that the mansion would be used as their headquarters, and ordered its immediate evacuation. This mansion in the Beyazit / Mercan Aga district, where Ibnulemin was born in 1871, was an important meeting place for culture, art, and literature in the period. His library in the mansion contained precious works, calligraphy plates, and many other treasures, all of which were damaged or lost during the occupation of the mansion by French and British soldiers.
Ibnulemin’s “birth” as a cultural historian and biographer was undoubtedly his role in the commission to classify the documents of the Yildiz Palace. This study and classification work, which occupied an important place in Ibnulemin’s writing and literary life, gave him access to information and documents that became key sources for the biographical works of his later career.
Another feature of Kendime Dair is that it contains information concerning the author’s idiosyncratic emotional states. These emotional states include: reproach, acceptance/approval of the truth, justification, and egocentrism/self-glorification.
Socio-cultural and ideological aspects of Kendime Dair include censorship of the press, criticism of bureaucracy, and the theme of “unionism.” The confiscation of his novel Sabih, difficulties faced during his working life, delays in his appointment and promotion, and the claim by those who disliked him that he was the “mentor” of Union bureaucrats and the Progress Committee is all highlighted in Ibnulemin’s autobiography.