Good Day

It is not simply a nationalistic belief, but the whole world acknowledges Atatürk as a military genius, a charismatic leader, also a comprehensive reformer. Atatürk saw the necessity  for the Republic of Turkey to be modernized in order to progress towards the level of contemporary civilizations and to be an active member of the culturally developed communities. He introduced reforms which he considered of vital importance for the salvation and survival of his people between 1924-1938. These reforms were enthusiastically welcomed by the Turkish people. To prepare the appropriate ground for the series of actions to be taken,  in 1923 October 29th  Republic of Turkey with capital at Ankara proclaimed. Today, it is time to remember the beginnings of this dream that came true and work more than ever for better future. Turkey deserves far better standarts. It is not a far-fatched case to think about merrier times for Turkey. As the saying goes, it is in our hands. Happy October 29th!

Let's Fill the Inkpot

It is time to start working for Inkpot. Thanks to your votes the results of the poll posted in the blog reveal the most popular topic for the Second  ELIT Undergraduate Symposium as “Gender and Identity.” Theme of the ELIT journal will be “Legends and Myths in Literature and History” in the first issue. This topic was the second most voted in the poll.

Suggested topics list for the first issue is below. You may come up with your own choice for topic.

Please inform Ülkem Önal (ELIT IV) about your topic preference no later than November 4, Friday.

Suggested Topics:

A. Legends and Myths in Films and Series

1. Beowulf
2. King Arthur
3. Lord of the Rings
4. Merlin and the Book of Beasts
5. Game of Thrones
6. Merlin
7. Camelot
8. Dracula
9. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
10. Troy
11. Alexander the Great
12. Oedipus Rex
13. Other suggestions

B. Legends and Myth in Prose and Poetry
1. Leda and the Swan by Yeats
2. The Love Song of  J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot
3. Trojan Women by Euripides
4. Gilgamesh
5. Iliad
6. Aeneid
7. Other suggestions

C. Translation(Turkish to English)
Sample: Çok Bilen Çok Yanılır - Recaizade Mahmut Ekrem

D. Legends and Myth in Art*Illustration Analysis
“The Horrors of War” by Rubenis
Link: http://services.flikie.com/view/v3/android/wallpapers/33570786


Can You Hear Me?

October 24th was sad, solemn and uneasy for people in Van. For those who simply heard about the earthquake there was nothing to do but to think hard for an effective step to be taken for the victims there.  In the morning an announcement was made about the collaboration of Bilkent High School and Turkish Red Crescent Society to collect necessary items and send them to Van.  Faculty of Humanities and Letters, English Language and Literature Department students were sensitive to the matter and responded to this call for help quite immediately. By noon plastic bags full of necessary items, bottles of water, toys, woolen shawls, pieces of clothes were brought to the department. Apart from being familiar with the aspects of culture, literature, worldview and philosophy of world-famous European, British and American authors students develop their notion of becoming world citizens at ELIT. Unfortunately, mostly at times of need the outcome of this life-long learning process is seen and felt dearly. Heartfelt thanks go to those who contribute to the ongoing campaigns, who try to amend the awkward and tragic situation of the ones who suffer due to the latest natural disaster.


Tears and Dust in Van, Turkey
Van is hit by eartquake on October 23rd, Sunday. Peace and calm of a weekend day is disturbed by the sudden natural disaster. People are in shock and pain. It is time to get together for those who are in need. Turkish Red Crescent Society announced the urgent need for the victims as blankets, baby food and water  in plastic bottles. Those who want to provide the people in Van with these items can bring them to G-216B and/or to G-216A. You may contact Gül Kurtuluş and/or Eda Pembe.  


Turkish Poet and Translator Nazmi Ağıl at Bilkent

Who is a Translator?: Transmitter or Creator
The department of English Language and Literature hosted Turkish translator and poet Assistant Professor Nazmi Ağıl on Thursday, October 20. A roomful of wide variety of audience from social scientists, scholars, engineers  to students, those who share an interest in literature and translation came together to listen to Ağıl’s speech “Gelse Otursa Meclise Bir İngiliz Ozan.”
Nazmi Ağıl is the translator of many literary works such as William Wordsworth’s Prelude, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock, Aharon Appelfeld’s Iron Tracks and Badenheim 1939, and Theodore Roethke’s Open House. His speech was about his experience as a translator while translating the three distinguished figures of English literature: Geoffrey Chaucer, Alexander Pope and William Wordsworth, all of whom belong to different periods and show different characteristics in their works.
In his speech, Ağıl stressed that his translation style changes according to the literary works he translates. He was in favor of free translation rather than depending on the original text imprudently while translating Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. He confessed that he became Chaucer eventually, when he finished translating Canterbury Tales. However, he was strictly loyal to the text while translating The Rape of the Lock  by Alexander Pope and Prelude by William Wordsworth since the works do not allow the translator to be apart from reality and solemnity.
Another emphasis in the speech was about the richness of Turkish. Idioms and proverbs are the irrevocable cornerstones of Turkish language. Ağıl stated that he benefits from the affluence of Turkish in his translations, adds sentences of his own or subtracts from the original text  to provide the rhyme and rhythm and to make the text more Turkish.
Ağıl’s another assertion was to bring the endnotes and footnotes into the text as if they were vital parts of the original text. In this way, the reader’s fluency and concentration would not be disturbed and the reading would be effective.
Ağıl also did not forget to give advises about the translation process. He said that knowing Turkish and English both very well is essential for the translation to be perfect. The attendants were inspired and had new perceptions towards translation.

(Ülkem Önal, ELIT IV)


Distinguished Turkish Translator and Poet Nazmi Ağıl at Bilkent

            We Host Nazmi Ağıl at Bilkent

The Department of English Language and Literature is
proud to present Turkish translator and poet Nazmi Ağıl. He is the translator of many world-famous authors’ and poets’ works such as: William Wordsworth’s Prelude, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock, Aharon Appelfeld’s Iron Tracks and Badenheim 1939, and Theodore Roethke’s Open House. He is also known as a poet who has been publishing his poetry since 1998. Gökçe Yazı (1998), Boşanma Dosyası (1998), Beni Böyle Değiştiren (2000), Aşk Küçücük, Kırılgan (2002), Kokarca Aramak (2005) and Babalar ve Oğullar: Umut’un Defteri (2008) are his published poetry books. He won Yunus Nadi Poetry Prize with Boşanma Dosyası in 1998. He is working as Assistant Professor at the Department of English Language and Comparative Literature at Koç University. Nazmi Ağıl is going to present a lecture entitled “Gelse Otursa Meclise Bir İngiliz Ozan” about the journey that the translator goes through while translating the works of each new poet. This lecture will reveal hints about his own experience as a translator. It  will be in Turkish and will take place on Thursday, October 20, 5.40 p.m. in G-160. Everyone interested in translation, poetry, and literature is invited.


A Sketch on Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

Atwood's novel begins with three quotations: One taken from the Old Testament, the other from Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal and the last from a Sufi proverb, and the novel does not disappoint the expectations about these three quotations as the effects of them can be traced throughout the text. In its literary, sociological, psychological, philosophical and feminist context, the novel boldly demonstrates the present situation of society, written as if in future, but told in the past tense. This deliberate shift in time is also sustained by the three quotations. The reason is, the novel carries out the religious theme of Rachel and Jacob, which exemplifies the first quotation taken from Genesis 30:1-3; on the other hand Atwood offers a proposal by creating an imaginative government representing the future situation of the western world, and finally the universality of the Sufi proverb is exemplified through the restrictions imposed on the people of Gilead, who form a miserable community from the very top to the bottom. Atwood presents Gileadians as the victims of the totalitarian regime which claims to offer a new life to everybody regardless of sex, whereas which reduces them to objects. In a state of discomfort and despair the idea of individual responsibility is brought to minimum level.
Nonetheless, instead of a "modest proposal" Atwwod illustrates the vanity and the absurdity of the norms of a society which is given the name "Republic of Gilead" with a highly ironic and satirical outlook. Therefore, the novel turns out to be an allegory of the world we live in. Though handled with a serio-comic tone, the novel can be defined as a speculative fiction which sheds light on political, social, economic as well as psychological problems. As a result, regardless of any categorization the novel becomes a mixture of science-fiction, fairy-tale, gothic novel and political fiction.
The novel centers on a new system created by the Gileadians towards the end of the twentieth century and the process of living this new life is handled with irony. Atwood does not create a new language while conveying the attributes of this new system, but expands the possibilities of language and uses it for her purpose of reflecting the mral decadence of this society. Offred's function as a handmaid together with the other handmaids in the novel exemplifies the quotation taken from Genesis 30:1-3. Without taking into consideration the fact that the handmaids are also individuals, the system reduces them to fertility machines. The Commander resembles "Jacob" as stated in the Old Testament, therefore as a product of the same system he is entrapped with the idea of getting the handmaids pregnant. Serena Joy and the other wives on the other hand envy the handmaids and thus the novel portrays a hideously competitive society in which everybody is jealous of each other.
By depicting all the characters in a morally decaying society in which religion and political system are used to dehumanize people Atwood satirizes the clash of ideologies. Scenes like the group weddings that are organized to reward the warriors and the public executions which require hanging people on the walls warning can be seen as exaggerations through which Atwood does not make a "modest proposal" unlike Swift, but tries to take off the blinkers of people.
The Sufi proverb "In the desert there is no sign that says, Thou shalt not eat stones" best formulates Atwood's belief in the self-control of the individual or the social control of the society. In its most basic terms the statement denies the authoritative nature of the politics; human beings are given the natural ability of knowing what to do and what to avoid, instinctively at the most crucial moments.
Finally, it can be said that throughout the novel Atwood makes ample use of the three quotations which she gives at the beginning. The religious theme of Rachel and Jacob is handled with humorous touches: Offred's awareness of the power of her body amuses her and encourages her to use this power freely: "They [the guardians] touch with their eyes instead and I move my hips a little, feeling the full red skirt away around me. It's like tumbing your nose from behind a fence or teasing a dog with a bone held out of reach... I'm not ashamed after all. I enjoy the power; power of a dog bone, passive but there." (Atwood 22) Atwood's proposal is not a modest one, unlike the famous eighteenth century writer and ciritic Jonathan Swift's. On the contrary, she conveys her message by taking the subject to its extreme points. The Sufi proverb justifies the exaggerated situation of the "Republic of Gilead."

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1986.


A Welcome

WELCOME, welcome! do I sing,
Far more welcome than the spring;
He that parteth from you never
Shall enjoy a spring for ever.

He that to the voice is near
Breaking from your iv'ry pale,
Need not walk abroad to hear
The delightful nightingale.
Welcome, welcome, then...

He that looks still on your eyes,
Though the winter have begun
To benumb our arteries,
Shall not want the summer's sun.
Welcome, welcome, then...

He that still may see your cheeks,
Where all rareness still reposes,
Is a fool if e'er he seeks
Other lilies, other roses.
Welcome, welcome, then...

He to whom your soft lip yields,
And perceives your breath in kissing,
All the odours of the fields
Never, never shall be missing.
Welcome, welcome, then...

He that question would anew
What fair Eden was of old,
Let him rightly study you,
And a brief of that behold.
Welcome, welcome, then...
                                             William Browne