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TURKISH AVANT-GARDE: Benerci Kendini Niçin Öldürdü? [Why did Bener Kill Himself?]



A first edition of poetry by one of the founders of the Turkish avant-garde Nâzım Hikmet Ran, inspired by Mayakowsky’s work, accompanied with black and white illustrations by Fikret Muallâ and decorated with blue and black cover design by Ali Suavi.


8°. 116 pp. with black and white illustrations, [12], original printed wrappers, stapled (uncut and unread condition, a light water stain and tiny worm holes going through the lower margin of the first half of the books, spine slightly rubbed, minor foxing, otherwise in a good condition).

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A beautifully designed rare edition of avant-garde poetry titled Why did Benerji Kill Himself? was written by one of the founders of the Turkish avant-garde Nâzım Hikmet Ran (1902- 1963). The moving text and the design were heavily inspired by contemporary modern poetry, especially by Vladimir Mayakovsky’s work.

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. The author of the striking, crude and powerful black and white drawings was Fikret Muallâ Saygı (1904 – 1967), a Turkish painter, schooled mostly in France, whose lines mixed the expressionist and fauvist styles. Fikret Mualla spent a large part of his adult years institutionalised
in mental institutions.


Nazım HIKMET Ran

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 a part.

References: OCLC 45772393

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