At the threshold of the time: Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar and modern Turkish poetry
Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar (1901-1962) is a many-sided author, well known to the Turkish reader mainly by his short stories and novels. However, his strong poetic establishment persisting both in his poetry and in his prose penetrates all these works. The attention of ourdays critics is more and more attracted by Tanpinar’s poetry. Because it is sparkling, deep, full of associations and a strange mixture of real and surreal, allegorized in the dream. His own most cherish dream is to create “just one verse that to remain in the eternity”. Even though he is not a mystic he gets closer and closer to them by his endless quests for “eternal truth”, “beauty” and “perfection” – values that exceeds the dimensions of the real time he lived in. Probably, it is why his poetry perfectly could be named as surrealistic – it is not by chance that Tanpinar not only was the first translator of Paul Valery in Turkish language, but also the proponent of Valery’s concept of poetry.
Tanpinar’s very special perception of the time is perfectly expresses in poetic cycles “At The Threshold of The Time” and in “Pieces of the Time”. If earlier Modern poets like Tevfik Fikret and Cenap Shehabeddin open the doors to the “new times” in the intellectual spaces of Turkish creator, if Ahmet Hashim enters the fields of symbolism, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar is that remarkable personality who lead the Turkish poetry to the vanguard of modernity and path of contemporary world literature. His presence in the XXth century Turkish literature is so sensible and phenomenal that gives the inspiration to the new aesthetical search during the 60’s that gave birth to the strong neo-surrealistic stream in the literary current of so called “Second New” that followed up the truly revolutionary innovation of “Garip” Group (“First new”). The poetry of Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar proves one more time that in the first decades of XXth century Turkish literature overcame the main issue of being between “traditional” and “modern” and removed mentality “barriers” between itself and European and world literary processes. The problem of “gaining on“ was solved. Since then Turkish literature has only to step forward in synchrony with other world literatures.