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WHEN I was eight, my mother gave me a diary with a lock and a key. It was made in Turkey in the early 1960s. The fact that this fancy notebook was intended as a “diary” at that time in Turkey was in itself interesting. Until I received my elegant green diary it had never occurred to me that I could have a private notebook of my own to write things in, and that I could lock it and put the key, probably the first I had possessed, in my pocket. It implied that I could produce, own, and control a secret text. A very private sphere indeed, which made the idea of writing interesting and encouraged me to write. Up to that time, the idea of privacy and writing had seemed to me to be completely contradictory. One wrote for newspapers, for books, for publication I thought. It was as if the notebook with the lock on it was whispering to me: “Come, come, write something here and don’t show it to anyone.” That the habit of keeping diaries is not common in Islamic culture is something historians and literary historians remind us of every so often. Otherwise not much attention is paid to the subject . The Eurocentric historian sees this as an inadequacy, and sometimes relates it to concepts like private sphere, or insinuates that individuality is curtailed by social pressure. As it can be observed from some annotated examples that have been published, diaries have probably being kept without any Western influence in many parts of the Islamic world. For the most part the authors have kept these diaries for their own use, for recording and remembering. They were not kept with any idea of writing for posterity, and since there was no tradition of SOCIAL RESEARCH, Vol. 70, No. 3 (Fall 2003) A Private Reading of André Gide’s Public Journal ORHAN PAMUK Copyright © 2003 Orhan Pamuk. annotating and publishing diaries they were destroyed, either deliberately or accidentally. At first glance, the idea of showing it to others or publishing it eliminates the privacy embodied in the notion of a diary. The idea of keeping a diary for publication suggests a certain artificiality and pseudo-privacy. On the other hand, it tends to expand the concept of the private sphere through the power of the writers and the publishers. André Gide was one of the first to do this. After the Second World War, in 1947, André Gide was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The decision was not surprise; the 78-year-old Gide was at the height of his fame and reputation. In those years France was still seen as the center of world literature, and Gide as the greatest living French writer. His outspokenness, the vehemence with which he espoused political causes and the equal vehemence with which he abandoned them, and the endeavors he made to reveal the “sincerity of men,” whom he placed at the center of his intellectual world, had won him plenty of enemies and admirers. Among Turkish intellectuals, whose eyes were fixed with envy and yearning on Paris, Gide also had large numbers of admirers. The most notable of these, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, wrote an article for the republican and pro-Occidentalist newspaper Cumhuriyet when Gide was awarded the Nobel Prize. Before presenting some extracts from this article, I must make a few remarks about Tanpinar for those who know nothing about him. Tanpinar was a poet, essayist, and novelist 30 years younger than Gide. Today his work is foremost among the classics of modern Turkish literature. Not only leftists, modernists, and Occidentalists , but conservatives, traditionalists, and nationalists acknowledge this status, and all frequently exploit Tanpinar’s reputation and prestige. Tanpinar as poet was influenced by Valéry, as novelist by Dostoevsky, and as essayist he learned much from Gide’s uninhibitedness and logic. But his attraction for Turkish readers, particularly intellectuals, and that which made his work 1002 SOCIAL RESEARCH indispensable in their eyes, was not that he was inspired by French literature, but that he was committed with equal intensity to the spirit of Ottoman culture, above all its poetry and music. This simultaneous preoccupation...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-768X
Print ISSN
0037-783X
Pages
pp. 1001-1014
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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