Literature as a Mirror of National Prejudices and Stereotypes: The Greek and Turkish Cases in Comparison
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By H. Millas – Lecture “A” in the USA, University of Albuquerque, New Mexico, November 2010

DRAFT ONLY

 

 

Literature as a Mirror of National Prejudices and Stereotypes:

The Greek and Turkish Cases in Comparison

 

 

(Synopsis: A comparative examination of Greek and Turkish literary texts to illustrate how they reflect prejudices, contradictions and other parameters that shape nation-state/nation identity but the existence of which we don’t even suspect.)

    

 

 

     Literature is a source of pleasure. We appreciate and enjoy poetry, novels, short stories and memoirs as artistic creations. There can be, however, other uses of literary texts, too. We may, for example, approach the novels indirectly to find out ideas, beliefs, manners and perceptions that were popular at the time these texts were written. We may deconstruct texts to understand the writers better.[1] Some claim that this way we may even reach the unconscious side of the authors. In case we approach literary texts with these intentions in mind we may be getting information that was not initially intended by the authors. Imagine a novel written by an admirer of Adolph Hitler. The author might have written this novel to show how the Jews had exploited the German nation; but in our days, we may read the same novel to understand in which way and why the Nazi writer and more generally the German nationalists were prejudiced and racists. It is even possible that a novel of this kind may prove to be the best exposition of the racist ideology. 

     I made use of the Turkish and Greek novels to study the way the Turks and the Greeks think about themselves and about the “other”.[2] The findings have a universal validity, too; one may see how interethnic perceptions are formed and operate in general. This is because prejudice, xenophobia, nationalism, double standards and similar practices and feelings are aspects that characterize all modern societies. The case of the Greeks and the Turks is not unique. Frozen conflicts, national stereotypes and racist generalizations are usual practices all around the world. 

     My presentation today will be about some related findings which I noticed as I went through the Greek and Turkish literary texts.       

 

 

  1. 1.Our concrete and abstract “other”

 

     We are not aware of how we form our positive and especially our negative opinion about the “other”. I am sorry to say, but most of the time we are not aware that we are not aware of this shortcoming, either. I hope I will manage to demonstrate this lack of awareness.

    Actually, we are not also aware of how difficult it is to really prove what we believe as true and convincingly persuade the others who happen to have a different opinion than ours about a person or a group. To present suitable cases and examples in order to prove a point is not conclusive because the adversary may always object: the examples presented may be considered specially selected (isolated) ones. It is so easy to find examples “proving” the opposite! Indeed, since all human beings have positive and negatives aspects, it is quite easy to choose examples according to what one prefers to “prove”. Actually this is exactly what most people do when they want to praise or to criticize somebody or a group. Allow me to speak a little about my personal experience on this topic.

 

     I was born into a family of Greeks of Istanbul. My father used to refer to the Turks in negative terms, frequently claiming that the Turks “hated us” and “treated us unfairly”. On such occasions I would remind him of my Turkish classmates and friends, whom he himself liked too and of our Turkish neighbors whom the whole family held in good regard. “You contradict yourself,” I used to argue.

     My father was born in 1900. He was brought up in a period when nationalism was at its peak in both Greece and Turkey and he had been educated to think in nationalistic terms. I only came to understand him better after he passed away and after I completed some of my studies on Greek–Turkish relations. Now I think that the term “contradiction” was not adequate to explain his attitudes. Actually almost all of us think in this way.

      A close examination, for example, of Greek novels that refer, in one way or another to the Turks confirms a recurrent phenomenon: the Turks appear as negative personalities whenever they are portrayed as abstract characters and as positive individuals when they are presented as concrete persons.[3] Abstract personalities are the ones who appear as symbols, as representatives of the Ottoman and/or Turkish state apparatus. We learn little about their personal life and feelings, but much about their (negative) behavior and its effects on the Greek protagonists. The Turks as abstract personalities are portrayed as cruel, fanatical and perverted, a source of unhappiness and danger for the Greeks.  

     However, when Turks appear as concrete personalities they are not portrayed so negatively and they may even have positive attributes. These are Turkish characters that appear in the novels of Greek authors who have lived in Ottoman lands, writing about events that they have personally experienced (and not about past ‘historically’ transmitted incidents). Their Turkish protagonists tend to be normal and balanced heroes. We know them by their names because in most cases they are the people next door. They appear to meet ‘us’, the Greeks, under ordinary circumstances, not in an atmosphere of war and strife, as it is almost always the case with the ‘abstract and historical’ Turks. In short, they look like real persons, not like rude stereotypes, not as representatives or caricatures of an imaginary ethnic group.

     Τhe same tendency—i.e. viewing abstract personalities as negative and concrete ones as positive—is encountered in Turkish texts, too. It is striking that authors who in their memoirs portrayed the Greeks whom they actually met almost exclusively in positive terms wrote negatively about Greeks in their novels and short stories. We can see this in the texts of Ömer Seyfettin, Halide Edip Adıvar and Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu, three well-known Turkish ‘national’ authors, as they are called in Turkey, who published their novels in the years 1910–1960. It is also interesting to note that these writers actually praised all the Greeks whom they had met in their lives but portrayed the Greeks, men and women, as enemies and inferior persons in their fictional narration.[4]

    

     I composed a table out of these findings. The table includes all references to the Greeks in fiction (novels and short stories) and in memoirs of each writer. "Neutral" refer­ences are not shown in order to simplify the presentation. Women, men and incidents are shown separately:

 

 

 

 

 

        Novels & Short Stories

 

 

       Persons

Incidents

 

 Women

Men

 

Pos.

Neg.

Pos.

Neg.

Pos.

Neg.

Ömer Seyfettin

Halide Edip Adıvar

Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu

0

0

0

  0

18

  9

0

1

2

 7

 8

18

 0

 0

 0

 12

 46

 47

SUM

0

36

3

33

0

105

 

 

        

     Memoirs

 

Ömer Seyfettin

Halide Edip Adıvar

Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu

0

2

1

0

0

0

 3

 8

 3

0

3

0

   4

  17

    0

3

8

     30

SUM

3

0

 14

3

   21

41

 

 

Looking at the general results presented in numbers, we may conclude the following:

1. In the texts of fiction there is not any positive woman and 36 negative ones. In contrast to that, there is not a single negative one in memoirs where we find 3 positive women.

2. The ratio of positive/negative for men is 3/33 (more than 90 % "bad" Greeks) in fiction and 14/3 (more than 80 % "good" Greeks) in memoirs.

      The incidents (or characterizations) which are not directly connected to per­sons but are more general, show the same tendency but not the same extreme contrast. There are no positive actions in fiction, with more than one hundred negative characterizations; whereas there is a 21/41 ratio for memoirs. This ratio is, of course, determined by the heavily influential 0/30 ratio of Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu. The other two writers have an average ratio of 21/11 which means 64% "good" actions by Greeks in memoirs.

     All three writers show a similarity in having negative or "bad" Greeks in their novels and short stories and positive or "good" ones in their memoirs. One may suspect that fiction is the product of war periods and the memoirs of peace periods. This is not the case. Halide Edip wrote her memoirs right after the war and most of her novels much later. Yakup Kadri wrote his novels much after the war, whereas the "good Greeks" of Ömer Seyfettin appear in memoirs written when he was a prisoner of war, under Greek custody.

    

    We have enough evidence to reach some conclusions:

 

A factor that gives birth to national stereotypes is the nationalistic ideology and its premise that nations are “homogeneous” groups. Nationalists do not seem to be interested in “details” and “exceptions” that injure their basic premise. Their “reality” covers all of “us” (as positive), as well as all “others” (as negative).  As nationalist writers create – on paper - their ethnocentric world, they present "reality" according to the ideological stereotypes and not in accordance to the "few" inci­dents in life which may contradict their worldviews.  So even though they may have met only "good" Greeks during their life time, their ideology (or their "education" in general) dictates them to portray only negative personal­ities - not as they may appear and present themselves but as they "really" are.

Memoirs profess an altogether different world. They do not rep­resent - according to the understanding of these writers - the ultimate, the general, the basic "truth" but only some particular or coincidental incidents. In philosophical terms, one may recall the controversy of nominalism: particular occurrences can not constitute a universal reality. A nationalist author feels comfortable when s/he writes about "nice" neighbours since we all know these do exist. However, in a text of fiction we do not record (nominalist) particulars but basically the "ultimate reality", the symbolic expression of what really exists beyond appearances. Nationalist writers therefore reproduce predetermined nationalistic stereotypes, as these have been built up in a nationalistic discourse.

     The belief that literary texts present the ‘essence’ (the universals) beyond the ‘facts’ (the singulars) is at least as old as Aristotle. In his Poetics he wrote that (read fiction for “poet” and memoirs for “historian”): “it will be seen that the poet’s function is to describe, not the things that happened, but a kind of thing that might happen, i.e., what is possible as being probable or necessary. The distinction between a historian and a poet is not in the one writing prose and the other verse . . . it consists really in this, that the one describes the thing that has been, and the other a kind of thing that might be. Hence poetry is something more philosophic and of graver import than history, since its statements are of the nature rather of universals, whereas those of history are singulars.”[5] Hence, authors of novels in their depiction of the Other seem to voice the “universals”, as these are conceived by them, irrespective of ‘singulars’. I call “universals/singulars”, “abstract” (what we imagine) and “concrete” (what we see).

The demarcation line between fiction and memoir becomes apparent. In texts that are heavily influenced by nationalism, the difference is not in the style, nor in the content. It is in the meaning given to the narration, to novels/short stories on the one hand and to memoirs on the other: the first is the supposed essence, the other is real and apparent.  

 

We can conclude then that according to nationalist paradigm and way of nationalist thinking, human beings compartmentalize their opinions. Practice and experience, in short, life itself is secondary; what counts is what we choose to accept as reality! What we are taught to believe. Nationalist stereotypes and our prejudices operate as bases for our judgment. The “other” is negative irrespective of evidence to the contrary. This conclusion is really discouraging and not at all flattering for human beings. The fact that we are not aware of this shortcoming of our society is an additional shortcoming.   

 

 

 

  1. 2.Inability to notice the contradictions

 

     It was during my study of literary texts that I noticed how common it is for human beings to live with numerous contradictions and double standards without ever noticing them. I will give a few examples.[6]  

     In almost all Greek texts, whether they are literary, history writing or school books, Tourkokratia, as the Ottoman rule in Greek lands is called in Greek, is presented as an unhappy, terrible, oppressive Dark Age that lasted for “four hundred years”. However, even though Tourkokratia  is generally referred to in negative terms in Greek novels, the real and actually experienced Tourkokratia (living in an Ottoman world) is sometimes discussed in a positive manner. The interplay of an imaginary versus a real Other is encountered anew in the case of Tourkokratia. Some novels that appeared only a few years after Greeks had fought to free themselves from the “Turkish bondage” present Greek heroes returning to Ottoman lands to find happiness and wealth. Consider the following examples.

     Alexandros Soutsos (1803–1863) in his novel The Exile (1834),[7] which was published only five years after the presumed “liberation” of the Greeks from Tourkokratia, narrates how his protagonist ends up in Istanbul, where he had lived “his childhood free of troubles” (p. 110), and how he buys the house of his father anew, having decided to live there thereafter (p. 209).  Pitzipios (1802–1869) in The Orphan of Chios (1839)[8] narrates the life of the Greeks of Smyrna and Istanbul. Turks who cause problems to the Greeks do not appear in these cities. Some Turks, when they do appear—for example Aine, a Turkish girl (p. 253)—are introduced in order to help the Greeks. In The Ape Ksuth (1848) Turks do not influence the life of the Greeks in Smyrna.

     Grigorios Paleologos (1794–1844) was an author who settled in Istanbul right after the liberation of Greece and published his novels there. In The Painter (1842)[9], he narrates how his hero, Filaretos, who moves to Istanbul and chooses to live there permanently, “will always earn enough money to live in comfort with his beloved Hariklia” (p. 296). He also praises the Ottoman government because it can control gambling, and he adds that in the Ottoman state there is more freedom than in many states in Europe (p. 226).

 

     This discourse of a real ‘Turkish rule’ that secures a normal and even a happy life for the Greeks neither seems to cause any reactions on the part of the Greek readers nor suggests a contradiction which needs to be explained. The two faces of Tourkokratia are allowed to coexist side by side!

 

     The happy life of the Greeks in Turkish lands, i.e. in Anatolia and in Istanbul, are narrated in later novels too, for example in the novels of Venezis, Mirivilis, Politis, Sotiriou, Iordanidou, all authors who lived in Asia Minor and met the ‘Other’. In all of these cases “Turkish rule” is concrete and real; it is experienced by the authors, and the protagonists of their novels, directly and personally. However, this kind of agreeable Turkish government is not called Tourkokratia; this name is reserved only for an explicitly negative rule. It is as if a rule that is not overtly negative cannot be called Tourkokratia.

    The very same writers who present a balanced approach vis-à-vis the Turkish rule may still present the historical Tourkokratia as negative when they refer to “the old times” in an abstract context. The work of Venezis is a typical example of this approach; he often relates to his personal experience with the Turks, drawing a portrait of the Other as an ordinary, and even positive, fellow human, who is in some cases even superior to the Greek, more just and honest.[10] However, when Venezis returns to narrating the history of old generations in Tourkokratia, the Other is demonized and stereotyped[11] (pp. 354– 359). In fact, a negative personal memory of Tourkokratia does exist in the minds of these authors; and when a Turkish rule that has been experienced in actuality appears to be satisfactory, or at least not very negative, it is simply not referred to as Tourkokratia.

     Surprisingly enough, the abstract, negatively portrayed Tourkokratia, on the one hand, and the concrete and positive (or balanced) Ottoman rule, on the other, simultaneously coexist in the narration of many authors. An extreme example of this simultaneity is found in a primary school textbook used in the 1980s, and is an example that shows that the phenomenon of the dual evaluation of the Ottoman rule is not limited to literature, but has a social and a national basis.[12] The textbook starts with the suffering that the Turks have imposed upon ‘us’ (the Greeks):

“The Turks, because they were wild and uncivilized, spread disaster on their way and they did not render any rights to the enslaved nation [of the Greeks].”

 

     Then the misery of the people who are referred to as Greeks is further emphasized: they were forced by threats on their lives to convert to Islam, Turks grabbed children away from their families and enlisted them in the Turkish (Ottoman) army, and there was no justice for the Greeks, who were not allowed to study, or even to speak their own language, and suffered many ills.

     Paradoxically, the next chapter of the same textbook, entitled ‘The Way Enslaved Hellenism Was Organized’, makes mention of the “privileges” (pronomia) of the Greeks in the Ottoman times. It is clearly stated that the Greeks had religious privileges, that the Church had all the rights it enjoyed in the Byzantine period, and that the Patriarch had jurisdiction over the internal affairs of the Greek population. The Turks, it is also mentioned, did not even have the right to arrest a priest without the consent of the Patriarch, and the Greeks had some political privileges too. They were allowed to run their own affairs (e.g. collecting taxes) and organize their schools and the teaching curriculum; indeed, it is stated, the Greeks had many very good schools.

     As in the novels examined above, these two mutually exclusive representations of the Ottoman rule coexist within the same textbooks without any further explanation.[13] (Diamantopoulou & Kyriazopoulou 1984).]

 

     We can, therefore, reach some additional conclusions. Not only do we create stereotypes and we live with contradictions but we are completely unaware of our situation, too. It is as if we live satisfied with our curious choices. Some would call this situation being happy with one’s identity not willing to change and face reality.

 

 

 

  1. 3.National Identity – our primary

 

     There is a Turkish saying, that rakı, the strong drink, does not stay in human beings the way it stays in the bottle. The same applies to identity. Especially the modern national identity is not an identity card in our pocket; it is like a chip in our head that controls infinite aspects of our daily life. This identity directs our life, our perception and dictates behaviors. The compartmentalization of the concrete and abstract “other” and our generous and without reservations acceptance of our obvious contradictions are two signs of what we may recognize as national identity.

    The literary texts helped me in noticing another area where our national identity dictates to the citizens (to the authors, to be precise) actions which are not noticed, neither by the authors nor by the readers. As I was reading the Turkish and Greek novels I came across many cases where Greeks and Turks, men and women, fell in love. In the first instance almost all cases seemed “normal” to me,. When I classified them, however, I was really surprised. In the novels of the two countries - in real life of course the case is different – and among two hundred cases of love affairs between Greeks and Turks, it is always the women of the “Other” who prefer to unite with “our men”. Cases to the contrary are - according to my findings - completely absent.[14] It was only lately, the last five years or so, that cases to the contrary are noticed in both Greek and Turkish literature.[15] 

    Why can’t we let “our” women love the “other”?   How can one explain this one sided and symmetrical sensitivity? Especially, when in real life we see (to be precise, we try not to see this!) that there is not such a strict rule in love – from the time of Romeo and Juliet! I can think of various explanations.

 

     First, women play a special role in nationalistic discourse. They do not directly participate in the interethnic fights, they only “watch men”, and therefore they are perceived acting as judges and as criteria that indicate the righteous side. Their preference counts. We want to believe that they normally fall in love with “us” and prefer “our men”. 

     A second explanation of this ‘sensitivity’ with respect to our/their women may be the fact that traditionally the wars were marked by the enslavement of the women of the ‘Other’, as war trophies, followed by being the “wife” of the winner. Symbolically the marriage (or sexual connection) of “our woman” to the “Other” may be a sign of our defeat.

 

     Whatever the reason is, the role assigned to women in nationalistic rhetoric and in literary texts is directly associated to national identity and reveals the existence of this identity more than any other parameter.

     In other words, in the case of Greeks and Turks, the image of the ‘Other’ is related to the so-called national identity and is concurrent with nation building. Actually all the phenomena referred above are examples in this direction. In nationalistic literary texts – I will refer to texts that are not nationalistic below - the ‘Other’ is perceived and portrayed negatively (an enemy, an invader, a potential danger) and he is not accepted as a bridegroom of “ours”.

 

     We can conclude then, that literary texts are useful in noticing some aspects of human behavior and of some nationalistic inclinations of “ours” which may escape otherwise our attention. There is a negative aspect next to the useful one, however: we are then face to face with a weakness of ours. We see that we are not objective, not free to judge and that we have prejudices, myths and stereotypes of which we are not – naturally – aware.  In other words we have a national identity to cope with!

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. 4.Ideology / Worldview – our second

 

     The “national” identity is not the only identity we have. The citizens of modern states, e.i., the members of a nation, share feelings, ideals, beliefs and perceptions with other different groups, they feel close to some and distant to others and subsequently they form sub-groups. There are differentiations on various domains: ideological, political, religious, ethnic, class, gender, occupation, age, locality, etc. Once they learn (they are taught) to identify who belongs to the in-group, to “us”, they automatically identify the out-group, the “other”, too. 

     Literary texts seem to be among the most promising tools to analyze these groups. These texts may expose their discourses, the way of their thinking, their references and their sources of inspiration, the contradictions and the issues the groups of citizens choose to recreate or to forget and silence. In short, literature may be used as a mirror which shows us our inner world: our expectations, fears, hopes, hatreds, etc. I will summarize some of my findings of my study on Turkish novels.[16] 

 

      The method that I used is the following. By identity (and ideology) I understand a unique way of looking at our environment. The existence of different identities is the cause that people see different things when they look at the same thing (at a person, at an object, at an incident, at a picture, at a vicinity, etc.) Think of identity as eye glasses. People wear looking glasses of different colors. So in practice, all things around them are covered with a special color. We disagree because we are followers of different paradigms. In my study which was intended to find out the Turkish way of looking at their environment, to themselves and to the “other”, to the Greeks to be exact, I chose some “things” and I tried to determine what different writers saw when they looked at them.

 

     My invariables were the following:

1. the West (and by this I mean Europe, European and Christian west),

2. Islam (“our” religion),

3. the Greeks (and by this I expect to see what each group understands, perceives of this word),

4. Beyoğlu/Pera (the vicinity in Istanbul which was mostly inhabited by Greeks and other minority members) and

5. “Our” state (the Turkish state, and/or ‘us’) 

 

    More than 400 novels, short story collections and memoirs of 118 writers were studied and the findings were classified according to the different points of view. It is clear that the issue was our image of “ourselves” vis-à-vis the “other”. The “west”, the Greeks and  Beyoğlu/Pera are connected to the “other”; Islam and “our state” is  apparently associated with “us”, the Turks. The findings are summarized in a table:  

 

 

How the groups evaluate, characterize, perceive the following:

 

THE GROUPS        THE “WEST”            ISLAM                   THE GREEKS         BEYOĞLU/PERA    “OUR” STATE 

Ottomanists(1)     advanced             normal                     as citizens                nice place              normal

                                normal                                                   normal

Nationalists(2)     as enemy             important                 enemies                                    corrupted              superior

                                                                                                inferior    

Islamists                (3)           as enemy               superior                   normal                            ?                        superior                                                              basic

Modern Islam(4)  advanced              superior                    as enemy                 inferior

                                inferior                   basic                         inferior                   not important        superior

“Anatolians”(5)  as enemy               not                            friend                              ?                      superior   

Important                inferior

Marxists                (6)           superior                  not                             friend                      superior                  negative

                                                                Important                superior                   nice

Humanists(7)        superior                 not                             friend                       nice                       negative

                                                                Important                normal                                 

Minorities(8)        superior                  not                             friend                       nice                       negative

                                                                Important                normal               

 

 

      Quite often this table is read in the wrong way. Some readers think that I claim that some groups see things in a certain way. For me it is important that my findings are understood the other way around. There are people that perceive the self and the other in different ways. In other words there are similarities and differences in people’s perceptions due to their identity. If one classifies these perceptions (with these invariables/constants in mind) one gets the table above and the eight groups. How the groups are named is a different and rather not important matter. One can call the Ottomanists “void of national identity”, the Nationalists “Patriots”, the Minorities “Non Muslims” or “Foreigners” or “Greeks, Armenians, Jews”. The names can be disputed and actually this dispute proves the assumption of the study: one sees and evaluates the same “thing” according to the eyeglasses one wears.

     But the facts are more difficult to deny: people express themselves differently when they refer to the “constants” above.

    

     The table shows the following:

 

1. There are different perceptions of the “self” and the “other” among the Turks. One cannot talk of “the Turks” or of “the Greeks”. One should not generalize. If one does that, it means that stereotypes are in the agenda.

2. The variables are associated with each other. For example, the one that is against the Greeks (perceives them as enemies, traitors, inferior creatures, etc.) is against or in favor of other parameters at the same time. Groups no. 2, 3, 4 for example that do not like the west, the Greeks and Beyoğlu seem quite satisfied with “our” Islam and “our” state. Inversely, those who are critical to the Turkish state (groups no. 6, 7, and 8) seem to be closer to the West, to Beyoğlu and to the Greeks. We can reach two conclusions:

      A. we do not need to ask many questions to understand one’s identity; if he is xenophobic he/she will be against both the west and the Greeks (and the vicinity where the Greeks live) and in favor of “our” state, etc.

      B. human ideology covers a series of issues. It is a paradigm that gives meaning to a set of issues, such as who we are, how positive or negative we and the “other” are, if we are surrounded by enemies or not, etc. Once one is a member of such a paradigm, than he/she is determined (forced, doomed) to express and follow certain patterns.     

3. When groups 1 and 2 are compared period-wise, it becomes clear that nationalist (or patriotic, if one prefers) understanding is historically determined. Ethnic prejudices did not exist before 1910 among the Muslims of Ottoman State. Nationalism and the related feeling and perceptions are a recent historical phenomenon. (Group 5 is a complex phenomenon that cannot be analyzed here.)[17]

 

*

 

     In summary, I mentioned four issues that are seen in literary texts: (1) Our concrete and abstract “other”, (2) Our inability to notice our contradictions, (3) Our national identity which directs our perceptions and  (4) Our choice of ideology which is the reason of our being so different vis-à-vis  some social situations. In short I tried to show that modern societies and many of their citizens are under the influence of stereotypes and prejudices; and that what is worse, they are not aware of this.

 

     My basic concern was the negative images related to the “other” because these images seriously obstruct the harmonious relations of the societies. I am concerned however, that I mostly stressed the negative image of the Other when I discussed the literary texts and the novels in particular. I mentioned only shortly the “humanitarian” authors above. I need to mention that are wonderful novels that are not infected by nationalism, stereotypes, prejudices, hate, and stupidity.

 

      I suggest you read those books which are a source of great pleasure and hope. I would like to mention few names of Turkish writers. I chose to mention some Turkish authors because I used Turkish texts to demonstrate the shortcomings. Of course there are wonderful Greek writers, too. You may read and enjoy writers such as Reşat Nuri Güntekin Sait Faik Abasıyanık, Haldun Taner, Necati Cumalı, Bilge Karasu, Oya Baydar, Elif  Şafak, Orhan Pamuk. There are tens of wonderful writers.

     I hope this lecture is not perceived as one against literature. I am an admirer of literature. I am only against nationalism irrespective if it appears in literature, in textbooks, in historiography, in movies, in the church, in the speeches of the politicians or in any other social sector.   

 

**

 



[1] There is a very rich bibliography on various readings of literary texts and on deconstruction related to Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Christopher Norris, Jean Baudrillard, Edward Said and many others. 

[2] My related PhD dissertation on political science is based on approximately 400 Turkish and Greek novels. The findings are published in Turkish and in Greek:  Türk Romanı ve ‘Öteki - Ulusal Kimlikte Yunan İmajı, (The Turkish Novel and the ‘Other’- The Image of the Greek and National Identity) Istanbul: Sabancı, 2000; and as a second addition Türk ve Yunan Romanlarında Öteki ve Kimlik (The Other and Identity in Turkish and Greek Novels), Istanbul: İletişim, 2005. Εικόνες Ελλήνων και Τούρκων - σχολικά βιβλία, ιστοριογραφία, λογοτεχνία και εθνικά στερεότυπα, (Images of Greeks and Turks - textbooks, historiography, literature and national stereotypes), Athens: Alexandria, 2001. A résumé in English appeared as “The Other and Nation-building – The Testimony of Greek and Turkish Novels”, in Representations of the Other/s in the Mediterranean World and their Impact on the Region, Edit. N. K. Burçoğlu / S. G. Miller, İstanbul: The Isis Pres, 2004.

[3] See  H. Millas. Εικόνες Ελλήνων και Τούρκων - σχολικά βιβλία, ιστοριογραφία, λογοτεχνία και εθνικά στερεότυπα [Images of Greeks and Turks—Textbooks, Historiography, Literature and National Stereotypes], Alexandria, Athens. (2001) for an analysis of 62 novels of 41 well-known Greek authors, published between 1834 and 1998. See also Damla Demirözü, Η Εικόνα του Τούρκου στην Γενιά του ’30 [The image of Turks in the ‘Generation of the Thirties’], unpublished dissertation, University of Athens. (1999). Demirözü demonstrates that Greek authors, such as Venezis, Theotokas, Mirivilis and Politis, who lived in Asia Minor and met Turks in person wrote about modern times and portrayed the Turks in a balanced way, whereas writers who lived in Greek lands and did not meet Turks, such as Ampot, Karagatsis, Petsalis and Prevelakis, wrote about historical times, mostly Tourkokratia, in which the Turks appear in general as negative and abstract personalities or symbols of despotism.

 

[4] See H. Millas ‘The image of Greeks in Turkish literature: fiction and memoirs’, Oil on Fire?, Verlag Hansche Buchhandlung, Hanover, 1996. See also H. Millas, Türk Romanı ve ‘Öteki - Ulusal Kimlikte Yunan İmajı, (The Turkish Novel and the ‘Other’- The Image of the Greek and National Identity) Istanbul: Sabancı, 2000, for an analysis of 350 novels of 118 well-established Turkish writers published between the years 1870 and 1998.

[5] Aristotle.  Rhetoric and Poetics, Modern Library, New York, 1954, p. 34/1451

 

[6] For a more detailed account see: H. Millas. “Tourkokratia: History and the Image of Turks in Greek Literature”, published in  South European Society and Politics, Routledge, Volume 11, Number 1, March 2006. Published also in When Greeks Think About Turks – The view from Anthropology, (Ed.) D. Theodossopoulos, London & New York: Routledge, 2007.

[7] Soutsos, A. (1999 [1834]) Ο Εξόριστος του 1831 [The Exile of 1831], Neoelliniki Bibliothiki K. E. Ourani, Athens.

[8] Pitzipios, I. (1995a [1839]) Η Ορφανή της Χίου [The Orphan of Chios], Neoelliniki Bibliothiki K. E. Ourani, Athens.

   Pitzipios, I. (1995b [1848]) Ο Πίθηκος Ξουθ [The Ape Ksuth], Neoelliniki Bibliothiki K. E. Ourani, Athens.

[9] Paleologos, G. (1995 [1842]) Ο Ζωγράφος [The Painter], Neoelliniki Bibliothiki K. E. Ourani, Athens.

[10] His short story ‘Lios’ is a typical example of this approach (see Venezis, I. (1967 [1941]) Αιγαίο [The Aegean], Estia, Athens. For analysis of this short story, see also Millas (footnote below). pp. 354–357).

[11] Millas, H. (1998) Ayvalık ve Venezis, Yunan Edebiyatında Türk İmajı [Ayvalık and Venezis: Images of the Turks in Greek Literature], İletişim, Istanbul.

[12] See H. Millas. “History Textbooks in Greece and Turkey”  in HistoryWorkshop, UK, Spring 1991, Issue 31, pp. 21-33

 

[13] Diamantopoulou, N. & Kyriazopoulou, A. (1984) Ελληνική Ιστορία των Νεωτέρων Xρόνων [Greek history of modern times], OEDB, Athens.

[14] Actually the two cases where ‘our’ woman get in sexual relation with the ‘Other’ man confirm the rule: in both cases the authors (Ali Neyzi and Sevgi Soysal) have openly acknowledged that the ‘Other’ was among their recent ancestors. See: H. Millas, ‘Les Romans, Les Femmes et Les Relations Gréco-Turques’, in Nancy: Genese/Oluşum, August 1999 (No. 60-61).   

[15] Remember the case of the TV serial “Yabancı Damat” (The Foreign Bridegroom / Σύνορα Αγάπης) and the Greek novel Αθώοι και Φταίχτες  (The Innocents and the Guilty Ones) (2004) of Μάρω Δούκα.

[16] For more details see: H. Millas. “The Other and Nation-building – The Testimony of Greek and Turkish Novels”, in Representations of the Other/s in the Mediterranean World and their Impact on the Region, Edit. N. K. Burçoğlu / S. G. Miller, İstanbul, The Isis Pres, 2004; but especially, Εικόνες Ελλήνων και Τούρκων - σχολικά βιβλία, ιστοριογραφία, λογοτεχνία και εθνικά στερεότυπα, (Images of Greeks and Turks - textbooks, historiography, literature and national stereotypes), Athens: Alexandria, 2001;  Türk ve Yunan Romanlarında Öteki ve Kimlik (The Other and Identity in the Turkish and Greek Novels), İstanbul: İletişim, 2005.

[17]  In fact we have a case that can be understood in light of Rorschach Test. People see what they have in their consciousness, in their inner life, in their mind. We all see different things when we look at the same ink blot.