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109 DERVİŞ, Suat (Saadet Baraner) (1905–1972) Turkish novelist, journalist and translator; leftist political activist; co-founder (1970) of the Devrimci Kadınlar Birliği (Socialist Women’s Association). Suat Derviş was born in 1905 (1904 according to some sources), to an aristocratic family in Istanbul. Her father, gynecologist İsmail Derviş (?–1932), was a professor at the Medical Faculty of Istanbul University and the son of chemist Müşir Derviş Pasha and his second wife, Şevkidil. Suat Derviş’ mother was Hesna Hanım, a daughter of Kamil Bey (1830– 1876) from the entourage of Sultan Abdülaziz and a former slave girl from the Palace of the Sultan known as Perensaz. [NB: In the Ottoman era there were neither surnames nor official birth records. The ‘paterfamilias’ would occasionally record names of new-borns on the family Quoran but, since this was by no means regular and did not usually include names of females, collating accurate data on women is difficult. The tradition of marrying off former slave girls of the Palace to ‘pashas’ (military/civil officers), has added to the difficulty of tracing particular family genealogies.] Suat had a sister, Hamiyet (1902?–1968), who studied music (singing) at the Sternisches Conservatory in Germany. Her parents’ relationship was monogamous and they were committed to one another, providing Suat with a liberal and enlightened family background. She enjoyed the support of an unusually tender father and a highly respected , well-educated mother. Towards the end of her life she was to stress that having been brought up in a house where there was no gender segregation and discrimination had helped her cope with the difficulties of later years. She was privately tutored in French and German, and also in literature and music. After World War I, she spent the years 1919–1920 in Germany with her sister, where she attended the Berlin School of Music and Berlin University (Faculty of Letters). She began her literary career writing pieces about Turkey for German magazines (among them Die Berliner Zeitung). Her first book, Kara Kitap (Black book), was published in 1920 in Istanbul. Between 1920 and 1932, Derviş published over ten novels while working as a freelance journalist; in this latter capacity, she reported on the Lausanne Conference in 1922–1923, an event which would determine the future of the young Turkish Republic. 110 Suat Derviş’s early novels reveal a deep interest in psychology, especially women’s psychology. The works do not depict ‘Anatolian peasants’ (the fashion of the period) but marginals and representatives of the urban poor. As a novelist who spent her youth in Istanbul and in the metropols of Europe (Paris, Berlin, Lausanne), Derviş was a distinctively ‘urban’ writer concerned with processes of individualization—a theme which ran quite contrary to the period’s dominant solidarist/corporatist ideology . Her sincere depictions of human psychology and her exceptional ability to ‘look inside’ herself and others appeared as a stylistic quality in her writing and added to her popularity. One critic wrote that “[Suat Derviş], who is more objective and modern than Halide Edib [the most famous woman writer of the time], is by no means less profound” (Uraz 1941, 282). Her ‘profundity’ owed much to her ability to combine analyses of gender and class issues, as in her novel Emine (1931), in which a poor woman eventually kills her rich, bullying husband. In 1932, when her father died, Suat Derviş returned to Turkey for good and took up a place in intellectual and political circles, participating in their debates. In 1930, after having joined the oppositional Serbest Cumhuriyet Fırkası (Liberal Republican Party), which advocated women’s suffrage, she ran in the local elections together with Nezihe Muhittin, a leading political figure. Both were unsuccessful in the elections and the party itself was soon banned. During the 1930s, Suat Derviş moved closer to a Marxist position and participated in debates on the creation of a social realist literary current . The magazine Yeni Edebiyat (New literature) formed the ground for these debates and Suat Derviş was one of its prominent writers, together with famous male writers such as Nazım Hikmet, Sabahattin Ali and Sadri Erten. Derviş was a proponent of social realism but, as her friend and publisher Sabiha Zekeriya Sertel put it, “she combined a socialist approach with a deep sensitivity towards women’s issues” (Sertel 1987, 182). 1935 saw Derviş reporting on the Congress of the International Alliance of Women for Suffrage and Equal Citizenship (IAWSEC) in Istanbul for...


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