HomeREADERSArt & CultureTurkish Literature: Authors: Kemal Tahir

Turkish Literature: Authors: Kemal Tahir

He was born on April 15, 1910 in Istanbul. He died on April 21, 1973 in Istanbul.
His real name is Kemal Tahir Demir. His father, a naval captain, Sultan II. Abdulhamid’s aides. Due to his father’s duties, he completed his primary education in various parts of Turkey. He graduated from the Cezayirli Hasan Pasha Junior High School in Kasımpaşa, Istanbul in 1923. He dropped out of Galatasaray High School when he was in the 10th grade. He worked as a lawyer clerk and warehouse clerk at Zonguldak Coal Enterprises. He worked as a proofreader, interview writer and translator in Vakit, Haber and Son Posta newspapers in Istanbul.He worked as the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Karagöz and the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Tan.
In 1938, together with Nâzım Hikmet, he was tried at the Naval Command Military Court on the charge of “inciting a milita y rebellion”. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He served in prisons in Çankırı, Çorum, Kırşehir, Malatya and Nevşehir. He was freed in a general amnesty 12 years later in 1950.


In “Devlet Ana”, he aimed to explain that Ottoman society was founded on a very different and humane basis from slavery and feudalism. In his other novels, he tried to reveal the phenomenon of “Turkish people and Turkey’s specialty”. He used a simple language in his works in his writing life, which he continued in a social realist line. He enriched it with dialogues and created charismatic characters. He became one of most prolific novelists in Turkey.


  • Sağırdere (Deaf Stream, 1955), 
  • Esir Şehrin İnsanları (People of the Captive City, 1956), 
  • Körduman (Blind Smoke, 1957), 
  • Rahmet Yolları Kesti (Mercy Blocked the Ways, 1957), 
  • Yediçınar Yaylası (Seven Plane Tree Plateau, 1958), 
  • Köyün Kamburu (Hunchback of the Village, 1959), 
  • Esir Şehrin Mahpusları (Prisoners of the Captive City, 1962), 
  • Kelleci Memet (Memet the Executioner, 1962), 
  • Yorgun Savaşçı (Tired Warrior, 1965), 
  • Bozkırdaki Çekirdek (Seed on the Steppe, 1967), 
  • Devlet Ana (Mother State, 1967), 
  • Kurt Kanunu (Law of the Wolf, 1969), 
  • Büyük Mal (Large Property, 1970), 
  • Yol Ayrımı (Divergence on the Way, 1971), 
  • Namusçular (Defenders of Honor, 1974), 
  • Karılar Koğuşu (Dormitory of Women, 1974), 
  • Hür Şehrin İnsanları (People of the Independent City, 2. Volume, 1977).


  • Göl İnsanları (People of the Lake, 1955).

“If old victories are talked about a lot, then there is no hope of new victories anymore.”
― Kemal Tahir

“We know many things separately, but we cannot bring them together.

It is more humane to be crushed to death under responsibility than to live in the sluggish comfort of irresponsibility.”
― Kemal Tahir,  Yediçınar Yaylası

“I’m afraid of both the small and the big before-old whore, friend… I’m afraid I’m really brave. Because, since the world was founded, the weapon of persecution has worked for real braves.”
― Kemal Tahir,  Kurt Kanunu

“(…) You understand that the wolf is angry. So it’s close to humans. The snake’s anger is incomprehensible!”
― Kemal Tahir,  Kurt Kanunu

“The harsh word “You were scared”… It is hard to bear.”
― Kemal Tahir,  Kurt Kanunu

“In our country, to try to do business with assassin-prone vagrants is to ride a rabid tiger.”
― Kemal Tahir,  Kurt Kanunu

“The most terrible thing to be deceived is that we consider our successes the result of our own power.”
― Kemal Tahir,  Kurt Kanunu

“The word “You were scared” is tough… It is hard to bear.”
― Kemal Tahir,  Kurt Kanunu

“You Republic children are in the consolation of ‘We opened our eyes to victory.’ Now don’t be stunned when you encounter unexpected defeats in unexpected places! We, sooner or later, have to come to terms with the West! Unless you really, we can not Defla scourge of our heads, but the West has offered services ”
– Kemal Tahir,  Yol Ayrımı

“Our nation abhors lack of freedom, despite the deceitfulness in its appearance. Because in its history, there has never been a period of slavery similar to the one in the West. That is, he neither became a slave nor made a slave work. For this reason, he considers all kinds of deprivation of freedom an insult to human dignity”
― Kemal Tahir,  Yol Ayrımı

“We have been informed that the family of the deceased police officer will be given 20 lira aid by the government!”
,Twenty liras… Has Turkish life become this cheap? How many sacks of coal can be bought with twenty liras, how many breads? Twenty money was raised in the past, bread became 17 cents… The aid made is 120 breads!.. If the family has five people… 24-days’ worth of bread from one bread a day… Yes, we are surprisingly cheap, my dear commander. ! Yuf us!”
― Kemal Tahir,  Esir Şehrin İnsanları

“Since the world was founded, it has not been possible to distinguish between a sword or a bloody pen, I think a sword wound is a pen wound… – Mother State”
― Kemal Tahir,  Mother Devlet

“We’ve all rotted… We rotted before we knew we were rotten!”
― Kemal Tahir,  Kurt Kanunu

“One of the days when they went for an interview, İhsan said about prisons, “This is the country of naked men.” he said. “The nudity here is not about the upper head, it is about the inner faces of people… Various curtains, veils, masks that hide people from outside, fall off before they arrive here in a few days.”
― Kemal Tahir,  Esir Şehrin Mahpusu

“A pinch of grass that makes the camel fly away”
― Kemal Tahir,  Devlet Ana

“Boiling soup, iced sherbet, no; It rots the tooth / A big person, a young man, rots the unsuitable business”
― Kemal Tahir,  Devlet Ana

Sheikh Edebali said one day, “People go towards their death wherever they go,” said Sheikh Edebali… Only the place and form of death was changing. To die in your comfortable bed… To die while straining the throats occupied by the bandit, in the ambush of your best friend…”
― Kemal Tahir,  Devlet Ana

The collapsing empire was dragging its intellectuals into the abyss. The crowd of Islamism counting with 350 million, the dreams built on the vast steppes of Turanism calculated with a hundred million, the nerves that were castrated by centuries-old oppression after the Balkan defeat, lust! it had given a stir, four years of bloody struggle had snatched these senile nerves in the midst of this exhausted stir. For Ottoman intellectuals, there was no other choice but to take refuge in the past, but where was the past to take refuge?
― Kemal Tahir,  Esir Şehrin İnsanları

“How easily they messed it up when they wanted to save him and let him live, even though he was the dominant social idea (religion) of the time, and everyone tied their wealth, life and honor to him. Here, every document, every edict, every judgment of the judge’s court is full of unbelievable sharia tricks in order to use religion for other gains.”
― Kemal Tahir,  Esir Şehrin İnsanları

“There were times when they wrote the most unspeakable writings for each other, and broke their hearts in the most irreparable place, out of their artistic pride. Those who read: “There is no chance, they can’t meet face to face,” before reaching the decision, whoever got drunk earlier, immediately ran to the other, hugging his neck and begging for forgiveness. Kamil Bey likened these types of writers to grumpy, spoiled, sickly children. At first, among these, he felt a strange shame because he found himself mentally and physically healthy”
― Kemal Tahir,  Esir Şehrin İnsanları

“In my opinion, rather than the favored person, the benefactor is the blessing of the good he has done.”
― Kemal Tahir,  Kurt Kanunu

“Occupation means inequality. Low isibdat! Despotism extinguishes the future of the whole nation, not just a few people. Injustice locks tongues, which are a happy gift of Allah. Despotism oppresses the lowly and the valiant. It is because of your tyranny that all our countries, which were watered with the blood of your grandfathers, are conquered… Yes… Isn’t tyranny the source of all evil? Isn’t it tyranny that leaves us behind in science and knowledge while our minds reach everything?”
― Kemal Tahir,  Esir Şehrin Mahpusu

“To say uncle to a bear until you cross the bridge means to accept being prey to bears.” With the back of his hand, he gently tapped the skin of the Naima History. The phrase “They call a bear uncle until they cross the bridge” is an Ottoman word that has not been diluted… There is no other word that better explains why the Ottomans could not even cross two span bridges throughout their history. The Ottomans never dared to cross the bridge without calling the bears uncle. Even today, the politicians of Istanbul find Ankara strange because it does not call bears uncle.”
― Kemal Tahir,  Esir Şehrin Mahpusu

“Kamil Bey took the newspaper reluctantly and sat in front of the bed. Whenever he had to read this filthy newspaper, he felt that his hands were getting dirty. It was like the paper was filthy. This filth even polluted one’s mind by penetrating into Turkish.”
― Kemal Tahir,  Esir Şehrin Mahpusu

“All our obsessions come from our fears. Man, if he is not crazy, he must be afraid… The fear in our obsessions does not seem absurd to us, because they are left over from hundreds of thousands of years… These are the residue of fears whose real causes have been lost…”
― Kemal Tahir,  Yol Ayrımı

“How much could human beings relax in the world… Because in fact, we drag ourselves into suffering again. The mind does not always work correctly, various ambitions make it easy to stumble on requests. Worst of all, we try to form a unity with another person, to criticize our feelings with each other without any detail, even though we live in conflict with ourselves most of the time.”
― Kemal Tahir,  Esir Şehrin İnsanları

“I think there are people in this world who were born slaves… Not because the Circassians call ‘slave lineage’… I mean those who were born with a servile spirit. These are divided into two: those who lived as slaves and died as slaves… Those who took advantage of their enslavement and made other slaves work like slaves at the first opportunity…”
― Kemal Tahir,  Yol Ayrımı

“Did the Ottomans say, ‘According to the narrative, a fatwa is issued’ for nothing?”
― Kemal Tahir,  Yol Ayrımı

“Combat-im told this secret life that I
Death is a manic striving tranquility Revolution”
– Kemal Tahir,  Yol Ayrımı



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