- Kafka in der Türkei: Rezeption von Kafkas Werken in der Türkei und ihre Einflüsse auf die moderne türkische Literatur by Süreyya İlkılıç
Süreyya İlkılıç’s study presents an intentionally nonargumentative overview of Kafka’s reception in Turkey and the influence that his work has had on Turkish authors, intellectuals, and scholars since the mid-twentieth century. According to İlkılıç, Turkish readers were first introduced to Kafka in 1951 with the translation of his short story “A Message from the Emperor” (1919). A year later his novella The Metamorphosis came out, followed by In the Penal Colony in 1954, whereas Kafka’s 1925 novel The Trial was published in 1960, premiering for the stage in Ankara three years later. While the first Turkish translations were produced via the English or French translations, from the 1960s onward a steady stream of new translations were completed and published, all based on the original German texts. It is striking that Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, first translated into Turkish in 1955 by Vedat Günyol, went through a significant period of retranslations. The newest version was published in 1986 by Ahmet Cemal. İlkılıç reveals that the work of earlier translations were essential for the reception of Kafka in Turkey but also had an influenced on a new style of modern Turkish literature. She highlights the subtle differences in the work of the various translators such as Kâmuran Şipal, Ahmet Cemal, and Evrim Tevfik Güney to shed light on the ways in which their translations have shaped, rearranged, expanded, and at times limited Turkish readers’ understanding of Kafka’s literary work. Despite the criticism by a newer group of Turkish Kafka scholars and translators, the first generation of translators, such as Necip Aslan, Vedat Günyol, and Adalet Çimcoz, were instrumental in introducing Kafka to the Turkish-speaking world. [End Page 122]
The volume is divided into nine parts. In the first half of the book, İlkılıç sketches out the traditional Kafka scholarship that established itself in Turkey, drawing attention to the main interpretative approaches to Kafka’s texts, the search for an ultimate meaning behind his writings, and also the challenges in transcribing the author’s puzzling figurative and metaphorical meanings into the Turkish language. In this respect, her volume presents a brief history of translation studies and its evolution in Turkey, referring to some methods used in classical Ottoman literature and the modern era. Simultaneously, İlkılıç discusses the idiosyncrasies of the Turkish language, referring to linguistic features such as phonology, morphology, and syntax. Her structural analysis then draws attention to the history of Turkish literary production and to what extent Kafka’s oeuvre has influenced the writings of renowned Turkish authors, such as Sait Faik, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, Bilge Karasu, Ferit Edgü, Yusuf Atılgan, and Hasan Ali Toptaş. The book lays before us a few dates and facts about Turkish literature as well as the sociocultural and ideological changes since the foundation of the republic in 1923. Additionally, it offers comparative readings of how Kafka is approached from various points of view by Turkish critics.
The second half of the book deals with Kafka’s characteristic narrative techniques. The following chapter presents excerpts of Kafka’s Metamorphosis in Turkish and the various perspectives of Turkish translators. İlkılıç’s analysis has been tempered by an understanding of linguistics and grammar; it is further enhanced her grasp of the significant number of loanwords from Arabic, Persian, Ottoman as well as colloquial Turkish have found their way into Kafka’s stories. The book includes also a pilot study on Kafka that the author conducted with seventeen Turkish authors and scholars. While some answers are short, many participants responded in detail to İlkılıç’s questionnaire and spoke about their fascination with Kafka. One will find in this section information on why Kafka’s works are relevant to the...