Grammatology and Literary Modernity in Turkey

Research output: Book/ReportBook

17 Scopus citations


Challenging comparative methodologies based on models of literary influence, Grammatology and Literary Modernity in Turkey argues that the emergence of modern Turkish literature cannot be understood independently of a discourse of phonocentrism that first matured in the mid-nineteenth century, with the unprecedented intensification of print and translational practices in Ottoman Turkey. While mid-nineteenth century proposals to simplify Ottoman Turkish and to reform its orthography were generally propelled by desire to overcome the diglossia of Ottoman Turkish, the discourse of phonocentrism took an explicitly nationalist turn by the turn of the twentieth century, aiming for the establishment of an impossibly self-same or self-identical Turkish identity. Of particular significance are the Turkish alphabet reform of 1928, which replaced Perso-Arabic lettering with Latin phonetic orthography, and the purging during the 1930s of Arabic and Persian loan words. In readings of literary works by Recâizade Ekrem, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, Peyami Safa, and Nâzim Hikmet, Grammatology and Literary Modernity in Turkey suggests that the modern literary archive, profoundly self-conscious of its own conditions of possibility, continuously dramatizes and exposes the limits of historically new writing practices. Where Eurocentrist critical discourse idealizes the Turkish language reforms as the culmination of a successful will to rational modernity, the literary texts analyzed in this book offer an alternative critical narrative: one of extreme self-surgery and profound self-alienation. Staging an alternative, non-identarian relation to the Turkish "mother tongue," these literary works point to the possibility of an open communicability, cognizant of difference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages240
ISBN (Electronic)9780199918775
ISBN (Print)9780199746682
StatePublished - Jan 19 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


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