Let us first start by answering the question of who Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar is. Tanpınar, one of the most prominent
names of the history of Turkish literature, was born in 1901. After completing his studies in 1923 at Istanbul University Faculty of Literature, he taught various subjects in high schools and colleges. He was appointed as a professor of “The New Turkish Literature” at Istanbul University in 1939. He served as a Member of Parliament for the city of Maraş between 1942-1946. He also worked as an inspector for the Ministry of Education. He returned back to his position at the Faculty of Literature in 1949. ‘The Woman on the Moon’, ‘Just Like I Live’, ‘Those Behind the Stage’ are some of his works.
Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, one the most prominent names of Turkish literature, is commemorated in many international festivals today. Although he was a disciple of the poet Yahya Kemal Beyatlı for many years and had written poems himself, his area of real success was stories and novels. The fact that Tanpınar was able to beautifully intermingle literature with sociology is one of the main reasons that he is still cherished today. All of his literary works he had written after the age of 35 is poetic in their language and aesthetic style. It can be stated that reading his work is like reading a long poem or even better said, listening to music. His novel, ‘The Mahur Composition’, which he had dedicated to the mahur composition of Eyyübi Bekir Agha, is an illustration of his close links to poetry.
One of the most popular works of Tanpınar is ‘Five Cities’. This work, in which the story of five cities is voiced, is dominated by the sounds and emotions from the Ottoman Empire. Other than this, he also explores topics of religion and architecture for his readers in this book. ‘The Time Regulation Institute’ describes the pains of the modernisation process of the Turkish society that has been drawn between the East and the West. This novel, which takes place during the era of Abdulhamid II, has been based on the memories of Hayri İrdal, who had lived during the Constitutional and the Republican Periods, and consists of four parts: ‘Great Hopes’, ‘Small Truths’, ‘Towards Morning’, ‘Every Season Ends’. The novel, which was published in 1962, is considered among the cult classics of Tanpınar.
Penguen translated Tanpınar’s ‘The Time Regulation Institute’ into English in 2014 and the book is now amongst the Penguen Books World Classics Series. News reports and articles on the novel have been printed in major publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times Book Review. In the words of Orhan Pamuk, ‘A Mind of Peace’ is Tanpınar´s longest song in which “he had searched for it poetry, but found it in the novel”. Without any form of break, this novel continues to bring us the sounds from Tanpınar. The novel ‘A Mind of Peace’, which is considered to be his most prominent work, is identified together with Tanpınar´s famous dream aesthetic. Contrary to its name, the novel the lack of peace is identified with in terms of the era in which its is written. Many years later, the critic Fethi Naci would say: “Whenever I feel like reading a good novel, I sit and read Tanpınar”. With these words, we understand just how rich and learned he is. Reading Peace, but not just reading it; allows us to witness every event that takes place within the story just like it is our own reality.