Don Quixot or Râcî?

Don Quixot or Râcî?

A’mâk-ı Hayâl (Depths of Dream) (Büyüyenay Publications, 2. Print, 2016) must have been one of the first novels to come to mind when the subject is the true Turkish novel.

Ahmed Hilmi of Filibe knows very well what the art of novel is, its structure, and how to construct one… There is a small number of Turkish novelists who possess this knowledge and talent. In addition, Ahmed Hilmi of Filibe knows how to utilize the art of novel in his own culture. It is very hard to call A’mâk-ı Hayâl a wannabe novel. We cannot tell that it should be evaluated completely separate from the art of novel, which is rooted in the Western culture. Ahmed Hilmi of Filibe had created a unique style by adding narrative styles of Turkish Islamic culture to the Western literary techniques. In other words, he transformed and reconstructed the art of novel to be used in narratives unique to the East.

We can compare A’mâk-ı Hayâl to Don Quixote in terms of content and style. Both novels are based on adventures. Logic is left out of the picture for a while in both of the novels. The protagonists of the both novels are personas who are overly poisoned by books, open to the effects of the age, trying to get rid of these effects, self-sacrificing, pure, intelligent, in search, who began to live in the world of imagination, and who are not understood by those around… Philosophical traits of A’mâk-ı Hayâl weighs heavier. Don Quixote has a more indirect and ironic narrative.The protagonists of both novels are sincere people who think, disregard stereotypes, contemplate with their peers and come to terms with action plans. They do not accept anything imposed on them. Râcî’s quest is faith-oriented. Don Quixote‘s is heroic. Don Quixote’s belief in “heroism” represents moral values, identity, love, patriotism; everything in short. In A’mâk-ı Hayâl, the same representation takes place with the search for truth.

Râcî is now a symbol of the intellectuals of his time, who is now doubted by his beliefs and moral values under the influence of modern Western thought. Therefore, he turns to Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, nihilism, Darwinism, and mysticism. It deals with each one separately. He tries to discover the basic feelings and thoughts on which each is based. He then crosschecks them. Debates, fights, polemics, and even intellectual wars take place. In each of them, Râcî is in an active place. In one of the ‘dreams’, he becomes an Indian prince, in the other, he is a warrior named Hikmet in the army of Hormuz, and in another, a Brahman who is the traveler of the summit of nothingness. You can also see him on the wing of the phoenix, at a conference of ants. Râcî’s dreams have no boundaries. He changes moods in his sleep. In each dream, he deals with a separate matter. Many opposing concepts, such as goodness-evil, light-darkness, right-wrong, beauty-ugliness, affection-discord, operate in paradoxes.

Researcher and writer N. Ahmet Özalp prepared this new edition of A’mâk-ı Hayâl by comparing the first edition of 1910 with the second edition of 1925. A’mâk-ı Hayâl, published for the first time in full text, is an insatiable novel for those interested in literature and philosophy.

The Library of the Author

– Erich Auerbach, Mimesis, İthaki Publications

– Ahmet Sarı, Seherde Serçenin Gördüğüdür, Salkımsöğüt Publications

– Haldun Taner, On İkiye Bir Var, Yapı Kredi Publications

– Cengiz Aytmatov, Toprak Ana, Ötüken Neşriyat