Revolution and Modernity in Nazim Hikmet’s “The Epic of SheikhBedridden” Freedom of speech and freedom of thought are necessary to all nations. Theirexistence gives the opportunity to different currents of thought to expresstheir ideas and notions so as to develop both the country and the individual.Turkey witnessed huge changes in its strategies after the declaration of therepublic in 1923. Mustafa Kemal, who is known as Ataturk, drew the form and thecharacteristics for the new Turkey.
He changed it into a secular state andorientated his country and people towards the western civilization. He directedthem to a new kind of power- the power of reason and knowledge. He imitated theEuropean model of modernity and especially the French model. This impressivechange in policy, form, content and orientation has made Turkey a greatcountry, and, absolutely, there is a positive transformation inside the Turkishsociety. At the same time, such radical changes, had a bad consequence inside the new republic.Repression, oppression and restriction on the freedom of speech and freedom ofthought were evident at that time in Turkey. This essay argues that the poem “The Epicof Sheikh Bedridden” by the Turkish Marxist communist poet Nazim Hikmetexpresses a political unconsciousness of modernity by embodying and adoptingrebellious, revolutionary and modernist ideas in his poem both in content and form.
It looks back to the past asa source of inspiration in order to excite the Turks to rebel and revoltagainst the repression imposed by authority upon them. Also, it looks forwardto free them from the shackles which restrict their ability to invent andgenerate new ideas for Turkey in order to make it better than before and improveits picture worldwide. Thepresent paper adopts the Marxist method of analyzing the literary text whichstates that the text has an overt (surface) meaning and as well as a covert (hidden)meaning. The covert meaning is the crucial one because it is related to basicMarxist themes of class struggle, or the progression of society throughdifferent historical stages, such as the transformation from feudalism tobourgeois. Nazim Hikmet was born in January 15, 1902in Salonika, the same city where Attaturk had been born twenty years earlier.He was eager to compose poetry at an early age and had his first poemspublished when he was seventeen.
Unlike Ataturk he came from a prosperous family. When his illness forcedhim to leave the naval academy, he chose to follow his other passion, poetry.He joined the Communist party after his visit to Moscow in 1922. He saw nocontradiction between his love of Turkey and his Marxist convictions, but theauthorities did. His talent proved no defence against persecution, and he spentthe rest of his life in trouble with the law.
After receiving early recognition for his patriotic poems in syllabic meter, heabandoned traditional forms while attempting to depoetize poetry, that’s why he is considered the firstmodern Turkish poet. most of his works have been translated into English,including Human Landscapesfrom My Country: An Epic Novel in Verse (2009), Things I Didn’t Know I Loved (1975), The Day Before Tomorrow (1972). Hikmet died of a heart attackin Moscow in 1963. It is necessary to give a concise summaryof Bedreddin’s life and the story of Hikmet’sepic.
Bedreddin was born in 1364 AD. His studies eventually led him to Cairo,where he taught the son of Sultan Barquq. During the interregnum following thedefeat of Beyazit I, by Timur, Sheikh Bederddin served Beyazit’s son Musa in Rumelia as a high legal counselor.When another son, Mehmet, defeated Musa in 1413, he reunited the OttomanEmpire.
Bederddin was banished to Iznik.In spite of his exile, he persisted towrite in order to prepare for the uprising. His writing suggests a substitute religious and social doctrine.It presupposes socialist, progressive and enlightened notions. It states that ownershipis to be shared publicly, and the differences among Muslims, Christians andJews are to be erased and considered as valueless.
The revolutionof 1416 is thought to have begun near Karaburun under the command of BorkluceMustafa. Bederddin then went toWallachia (known in Hikmet’s epic by the regional names of Deliorman andAgacdeniz), where he led a rebellion. He was captivated and executed in Serresin December of 1416 or in 1420, but his followers known as Bederddinlis or Simvanis, endured for severalcenturies and were viewed warily by the Ottoman Empire.