Istanbul literature is one of the most diverse and riches literatures in the world. It pretty much cover the
traditional literature of Istanbul to a modern and western one. Their literature can be divided into three
periods reflecting the history of Turkish civilization. First is the period up to the adoption of Islam, next is
the Islamic period, and finally the period under western influence.
Turkish Literature Prior to the Adoption of Islam Turkish literature was the joint product of the Turkish
clans and was mostly oral. The oldest known examples of Turkish writings are on obelisks dating from
the late 7th and early 8th centuries. The Orhun monumental inscriptions written in 720 for Tonyukuk,
in 732 for Kültigin and in 735 for Bilge Kagan are masterpieces of Turkish literature with their subject
matter and perfect style. Turkish epics dating from those times include the Yaratilis , Saka, Oguz-Kagan, Göktürk, Uygur and Manas.The ‘Book of Dede Korkut’, put down in writing in the 14th century, is an
extremely valuable work that preserves the memory of that epic era in beautiful language.
After the Adoption of Islam Following Turkish migrations into Anatolia in the wake of the Malazgirt
victory in 1071, the establishment of various Beyliks in Anatolia and the eventual founding of the Seljuk
and Ottoman Empires set the scene for Turkish literature to develop along two distinct lines: ‘divan’
or classical literature drawing its inspiration from the Arabic and Persian languages and Turkish folk
literature still remaining deeply rooted in Central Asian traditions. Divan poets did not have independent
philosophies, they were contented to express the same ideas in different ways. The magnificence of
the poet came from his artistry in finding original and beautiful forms of expression. The most famous
of the Divan poets were Baki, Fuzuli, Nedim and Nef’i.Initially based on two foreign literary traditions,
Arab and Persian, literature gradually stopped being merely imitative and took on Ottoman national
characteristics. To a certain extent, the Turkish folk literature which has survived till our day reflects the
influence of Islam and the new life style and form of the traditional literature of Central Asia after the
adoption of Islam.
On the other hand, Turkish folk literature comprised anonymous works of bard poems and Tekke
(mystical religious retreats) literature. Yunus Emre who lived in the second half of the 13th and early
14th centuries was an epoch making poet and sufi (mystical philosopher) expert in all three areas of folk
literature as well as divan poetry. Important figures of poetic literature were Karacaoglan, Atik Ömer,
Erzurumlu Emrah and Kayserili Seyrani.
The Turkish Literature was eventually influenced by the Western Literature. Changes in social, economic
and political life were reflected in the literature of the time and the quest for change continued till the
proclamation of the Republic. The distinguishing characteristic of the era in literature was more concern
with the intellectual content rather than esthetic values or perfection of style.
The latest period in literature, which is known as the Turkish Literature of the Republican period, came
to be influenced by the following literary schools after Divan literary styles had been abandoned:
Tanzimat (reforms), Servet-i Fünun (scientific wealth), Fecr-i Ati (dawn of the new age) and Ulusal
Edebiyat (national literature).
Others who adopted the western approach, but who were outside the group, were Ahmet Rasim and
Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpinar who supported the new Turkish literature. The most interesting Fecr-i Ati poet
was Ahmet Hasim. Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoglu and Refik Halit Karay who initially were in the Fecr-
i Ati at the start of their careers, attained their true literary identities later in the National Literature