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TURKISH AVANT-GARDE: Simavne Kadısı Oğlu Şeyh Bedreddin Destanı [The Epic of Sheik Bedreddin, the Son of the Kadi Simavne]

8°. 54 p. with a black and white portrait, [10], original illustrated wrappers (wrappers slightly dusty and worn on the edges, a bookseller’s stamp in the lower corner of the first page, old signature on the title page, otherwise in a good condition).


The epic poem by Nâzım Hikmet talks about the late 14th and early 15th century intellectual scholar Sheikh Bedreddin (1359–1420), who was leading a successful revolt against the Ottoman Empire in the time of the powerful Sultan Mehmed I. In 1420, Sheikh Bedreddin was sentenced to death and hung.

The name of Sheikh Bedreddin in the Ottoman Empire and later Turkey was always connected with the rebellion against the government, especially amongst the leftist groups. In 1924, Sheikh Bedreddin’s remains were exhumated, but not put to rest to another place, as the government was afraid, that the place would become a shrine for the protesters and new rebels, opposing the government.

It was this Nâzım Hikmet’s poem, made more than a decade later, which revived the persona of Sheikh Bedreddin as the leader of a successful rebellion in the 20th century literature. Sheikh Bedreddin’s remains were nor reburied until 1961.


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 23698598

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