Conflicted Selves : Ironic Representations of Westernization in Three Twentieth-century Turkish Novels

Sammanfattning: For over a century, a dichotomous East–West debate has influenced conceptions of Turkish literature, threatening to reduce single works to products of westernization. This study critically reviews this discourse by investigating how it is addressed through irony in three novels from a period of forty years of the late 20th century: Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar’s Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü (The Time Regulation Institute, 1961), Adalet Ağaoğlu’s Ölmeye Yatmak (Lying Down To Die, 1973), and Orhan Pamuk’s Yeni Hayat (The New Life, 1994).This investigation examines how these novels participate in the discourse of westernization and the role of irony in them. The term “discourse” is used in its Foucauldian sense of “a limited number of statements that belong to a single system of formation,” while irony is understood according to Linda Hutcheon, as a discursive practice that signals “difference at the heart of similarity.”This study combines contextualization and close reading. The analysis of each novel is preceded by the presentation of, firstly, a theoretical framework concerning irony, discourse, and westernization and, secondly, background for interpreting irony, westernization, and literary periods in a Turkish context as well as overviews of the three authorships and prior reception.Guided by Hutcheon’s description of “the cutting edge of irony” and Wayne Booth’s caution about knowing “where to stop” the investigation illustrates how westernization is represented through irony in these novels. It shows how first-person narration plays a crucial role in subverting the discourse of westernization through the narratives of self-reflective individuals. The study concludes that these novels disrupt the discourse of westernization by undermining its dichotomous tenets; in doing so, they also reveal how the Turkish discourse of westernization, while undergoing significant transformations, is sustained at the cost of suppressing individual voices.