“Ben ve Öteki” Bağlamında Yakup Kadri’nin Sodom ve Gomore Romanında Yabancı AskerlerBirol Bulut
Roman toplumsal şartları ele alması, eleştirel bakış açısı sunması, sosyolojik tespitlerde bulunması bakımından sosyal ve siyasal yaşamla iç içedir. Yazar, yaşadığı toplumun meselelerini zaman, mekân ve kahraman kurgusuyla yeniden üreterek dile getirir. Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu’nun 1928 yılında yayımlanan Sodom ve Gomore başlıklı romanı, Türk milletinin bağımsızlığının tehlikeye girdiği bir dönem olan İstanbul’un işgali ile Millî Mücadele dönemi arasında İstanbul’da yaşanan olayları anlatır. İşgal vesilesi ile İtilaf askerleri kendi yurtlarından koparak Batı’nın yüzyıllardır “Öteki” olarak gördüğü Doğu’ya gelir. I. Dünya Harbi’ni kazanmanın vermiş olduğu güçle ve oryantalizmin ürettiği basmakalıp tarihsel nazariye ile İstanbul ve ahalisini ötekileştiren bu askerler romanın sonunda karşılaştıkları gerçeklikle tahayyül ettikleri manzaranın uyuşmadığının farkına varır. Türkler için de işgali gerçekleştiren yabancı askerler kimlikleri, dış görünüşleri, hayat tarzları, davranış biçimleri ve Batı’yı temsil etmeleri hususunda “Öteki”dir. Roman bir anlamda İstanbul’da “Ben”ini kurmak isteyen “Öteki”lerin mücadele alanıdır. İstiklal Savaşı’nın kazanılmasının ardından kendini gösteren bu mücadele sona erer ve herkes ait olduğu yere döner. Çalışmamızda Sodom ve Gomore romanının kahramanlarından olan yabancı askerler üzerinden “Ben ve Öteki” kavramları tarihî ve sosyolojik perspektif göz önünde bulundurularak incelenecektir
Foreign Soldiers in Yakup Kadri’s Novel Sodom and Gomorrah in the Context of the Self and the OtherBirol Bulut
Novels are intertwined with social and political life in terms of dealing with social conditions, presenting a critical point of view, and making sociological determinations. Authors express the issues of the society in which they live by reproducing these through time, space, and hero fictions. Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu’s novel Sodom and Gomorrah was published in 1928 and tells of the events that took place in Istanbul between the occupation of Constantinople, a period in which the independence of the Turkish nation was in danger, and the period of the National Struggle. On the occasion of the invasion, the Entente soldiers had left their homeland and come to the East, which the West had viewed as the “other” for centuries. With the strength of winning World War I and the stereotypical historical theory produced by Orientalism, these soldiers who had marginalized Istanbul and its people realized that the reality they encountered at the end of the novel did not match the landscape they had imagined. For Turks, the foreign soldiers who carried out the occupation were the “other” in terms of their identity, appearance, lifestyle, behavior, and Western representation. This struggle that manifested itself after the victory of the War of Independence ended, and everyone went back to where they belonged. This study examines the concepts of self and the other through the foreign soldiers who are the heroes in the novel Sodom and Gomorrah by taking into account historical and sociological perspectives.
The work Sodom and Gomorrah appeared before readers in 1928 and tells of the events that took place between the Allied occupation of Istanbul and the National Struggle. One of the themes of the work is the encounter between self and other on the axis of East and West. This encounter has the occupation forces representing the West, in particular the British and the French, some of the local people who acted alongside these soldiers, the non-Muslim subjects of the Ottoman Empire, and the Turks who still believed in independence and did not want to accept this invasion.
The Introduction discusses the relationship between self and other and the East-West plane of this relationship. The first heading of the text, which is examined under four main headings, is “The Domination of Foreign Soldiers: The Slave-Master Relationship;” its subject deals with the foreign soldiers’ encounters with Turkish people and is based on Hegel’s master and slave dialectic. In the novel, Captain Jackson Read, who was in Istanbul for the Occupation, had military and administrative duties, and been raised with military discipline, is described as the “master.” The first hero the British officer encounters is the manicurist girl. The girl is attracted to Jackson Read. But the British officer has no feelings for the girl who comes up to his feet to give a manicure. For him, the existence of the girl consists of meeting his own needs. Sami Bey, who hosted Jackson Read at the beginning of the novel, is merely the enslaved type. Retired from Düyun-u Umumiye, Sami Bey has a European style and meets up with Jackson Read thanks to his wide circle in Beyoğlu; after two or three meetings, he invites him to his home and aims to gather benefits. Sami Bey, who opened the doors of his house to the occupation forces until the end, is not disturbed by the fact that his daughter Leyla is seen with foreign soldiers and is also pleased with the situation. After all, at the end of the novel, Sami Bey is seen to have not believed in the National Struggle; he doesn’t think he’ll succeed and feels Istanbul will again be under the domination of the Turks. Sami Bey acts with the reflex of unconditional obedience as one whose self-consciousness has been erased and sees the British as the masters. Necdet opposes the occupation forces in the book and is depicted as an enemy of the British; he hates the foreign soldiers in general for their occupation of Istanbul, as he is particularly interested in Leyla more than Jackson Read. Realizing the situation, the occupation forces try to erase Necdet’s self-awareness as they view themselves as the master (i.e., capable of dominating anyone they want). Necdet is seen to lose the fight to the occupation forces, who are shown as the “self” at this point because his anti-British sentiment did not turn into action; as a result, he evolved to having a slave mentality and was marginalized before he could reach self-awareness. In addition, features such as the French organization of a concert for the injured French soldiers in the Çanakkale Front and its advertisement in the newspapers for days, and the printing of invitations in English and French for Leyla’s invitation, and the marginalization of Istanbul’s Turkish identity indicated that the occupation forces acted with the consciousness of master and that some people like Leyla had accepted the slave mentality.
When coming to the final stages of the occupation, Captain Jackson Read and George Marlow make an account of the loss of their struggle with the Turks. Here Jackson Read is seen to belittle the Turks’ victory and to still consider himself the master despite losing this war. Seeing the rest of the world as slaves who are obliged to serve them, the Captain wants to return to his homeland as soon as possible to benefit from this abundance. But Marlow says it’s a sick view. According to him, the British people marginalized everywhere and everyone except themselves. Partial acceptance appears in the letter Jackson Read wrote to his mother near the end of the occupation regarding the lost struggle against the Turks, who are seen as the “other.” For the Captain, who is glad to leave these lands despite the lost war, the Turks should be under the rule of his “self”. In the continuation of the letter, he mentions the Turks’ hatred toward the British. Jackson Read, who takes the shape of the “self” with these expressions, changes the method of struggle and purposes that the other is unable to achieve self-consciousness by always retaining a dependent mentality.
Necdet is the only hero to overcome the slavery mentality and create a new consciousness in the novel. He cannot tolerate foreign soldiers persecuting the Turks. Witnessing insults to a crippled soldier on the tram is the particular beginning of Necdet’s self-awareness. Leyla was the reason for Necdet’s lack of self-consciousness at the beginning of the novel. By being isolated from Leyla, he grew to want to remove the othering in his own country and enslaved environment, and even entered a new struggle with the enemy forces.
The section Foreign Soldiers as Others, being the second heading of the study, involves the Occidental views of Cemil Kâmi and Necdet from among the heroes of the novel. The most distinctive feature of Necdet is that he had a grudge against the occupation forces, especially the British, and saw them as the other and strangers to the city. The narrator attributes the roots of Necdet’s hostility toward the English to the ideas he’d received from Heine as a result of his education in Germany followed by the invasion of the country. Necdet’s grudge is defined as Anglophobia. The elements that make up Necdet’s “self” are his determination to struggle, self-sacrifice, honor, and patriotism. Cemil Kami, on the other hand, is disturbed by the foreign soldiers he encounters in Istanbul, having returned after a long time away. The identity that forms Cemil Kami’s “self” are racial characteristics such as the language and appearance that are part of this identity. Apart from these, the countenances he encounters and the language he hears appear to him as the “other.”
The third heading, The Manifestation of Western Consciousness: Foreign Soldiers and Women, addresses the perspective of women and their attitude toward foreign soldiers in the context of the soldiers’ romances with the women from the perspective of the “self” and the “other.” Leyla stands out from among these women. When Jackson Read is with Leyla, he emphasizes her otherness and expresses his admiration for her exoticism, dark skin, and black eyes. Fearing that falling in love with a Turkish girl in Istanbul, the place he’d come to invade, would cause him disgrace in London, the Captain questions his relationship with Leyla. This is because his tradition encounters everything outside his own race and culture as the “other.” Leyla is depicted as an English enthusiast in the novel; she is a subject of the West who’s been estranged from the society in which she lives, is curious about modern life and a fan of the English, enjoys showing this, appears snobby and snooty in the presence of strangers, runs about from evening tea to morning strolls, and has no livelihood. Leyla’s modern passion for life and European lifestyle are the most important things connecting her to Jackson Read. Leyla has no element that reveals her Turkish identity because she consciously been assimilated. Azize Hanım [Lady Azize] and Madam Jimson show similar characteristics. The only difference between Azize Hanım and Madam Jimson is religion. Although both are members of this society, they are of the type who reject their identity, try to get a high-ranking occupation officer despite being married, and act like Westerners who claim no chastity.
The last heading, Imaginary Other, discusses the traces of the image of the Imaginary East as created by the West in the Orientalist discourse. With no experience of the East, the West has made it an object of desire in its mental world, denigrated it when appropriate, and shaped it through the whims of its prejudices. Eastern women, sultans, harems, sexual fantasies, concubines, hamams [bathhouses], sheikhs, and pashas occupy important places in this imagining. In the novel, foreign soldiers use Westernproduced images of the East while describing each of them negatively. The depiction of the Imaginary East is processed through Captain George Marlow in particular. For example, Marlow likens Jackson Read to an Ottoman pasha while expressing his lassitude and relationship with women. In Marlow’s perception of the East, a pasha involves a lazy sexual element of one who is surrounded by beautiful concubines, has a large harem, lays down with a new woman every night, and smokes hash and hookahs. The idea of the Imaginary East is generally presented through Captain George Marlow, stemming from his desire to realize his sexual perversions and fantasies in the geography of the “other.” The traces of the sultan myth from A Thousand and One Nights are seen in Jackson Read’s encounter with Şehnaz Sultan. According to this myth, the “sultan princess,” or Sultana, is beautiful, adorned with various jewels, lives in the palace, is fairy-tale-like, and an object of desire whose husband suddenly chases after due to her inviting demeanor. The Sultana in the novel is the niece of the sultan and wife of Nail Pasha. Jackson Read considers the encounter “an adventure” because he knows the Sultana is married. He emphasizes her mystery by calling her a woman whose “skin has not seen the sun.” Jackson Read carefully examined the palace where the Sultana lived, her clothes and behavior, and then exited the fairy-tale world. Both Marlow and Jackson Read realized that the reality they encountered in Istanbul did not match the East of their dreams.