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Portreler [Portraits]



12°. original illustrated cover, 62 pp. on darker paper, [2], (cover trimmed with a small loss of lettering on the right-hand side. inside good, clean, seemingly unread condition, wrappers with light foxing and minimal wear on the edges).


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This is the first edition of the poems Portraits by Nâzım Hikmet, which the author focused on individual persons from the public and his private life.

Nâzım Hikmet (1902- 1963) is possibly one of the most brilliant Turkish authors of the 20th century and a stellar representative of the Turkish avantgarde. Although his poems were banned for almost 30 years in Turkey Hikmet still alive in the daily culture of the modern Turkey, although seemingly underappreciated in the West.

Nâzım’s powerful poetry and prose was mostly inspired by the Soviet avantgarde and futurism, especially by Mayakovsky, yet it promoted the heavy unique vocals of the Turkish language, spreading the tones of the masses calling for the revolution. The verses are free and non-conventional, moving with the rhythm of the lyrics and the narrative.

Nâzım Hikmet was born in a prominent family in Salonica (today Thessaloniki in Greece) and was trained at the Ottoman Navy School. Already in his later teens he joined the Turkish War of Independence and was chose by Mustafa Kemal to write a poem to motivate the young people to join the struggle.

Nâzım Hikmet soon got into trouble with the government for adopting the contemporary Soviet communist thoughts. In 1922, he moved to Moscow for studies and for ideological reasons. After returning to Istanbul he published his first work, still written in the Ottoman language, in 1925, followed by a collection of poems 835 Satır in 1929.

Due to his membership in the illegal Communist Party of Tukey and his extreme Soviet inspired poetry Nâzım Hikmet spent many years between 1925 and 1951 exiled or imprisoned in Turkey. In the meantime he published poetry, theatre pieces and translated texts. His books were often burned and eventually banned in 1938 (until 1965).

Escaping another imprisonment in Turkey, Hikmet moved to Moscow in 1951, where he lived until his death in 1963.

Nâzım’s heavy, beautiful and powerful lyrics were frequently adopted into chansons and Western leftist and protest songs, the most famous being I come and stand at every Door (from Turkish Kız Çocuğu), also known as The Hiroshima Girl. He also wrote against the Korean War, where Turkey was taken apart.

The cover draft was made by a poster and book designer Ali Suavi (1910 or 1913-1994), who was more known as an award-winning photographer Suavi Sonar. Suavi’s tasteful book designs were based on contemporary avant-garde forms and art deco lines.

Worldcat only lists two examples of this first edition (Universitätsbibliothek der Eberhard Karls Universität and University of Basel Library).

References: OCLC 315063397

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