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The İnönü era translation movement: classics in the service of Turkish nationalism

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In 1939, a comprehensive and systematic translation movement began in Turkey under the supervision of ‘Turkish humanists’ who believed in the survival of the traces of ancient Greek culture within the daily lives and literary traditions of Anatolian peoples. This article, which is based on the premise that translations should be discussed as records of cultural contestation and ideological struggles rather than as simple linguistic transpositions, examines this state-sanctified movement vis-à-vis the nationalist project. The Turkish humanists’ belief in a geography-based nationalism was promoted by the state insofar as their attempt to influence the direction of the development of ‘nascent’ Turkish identity and literature coincided with the aims of the state. Ostensibly initiated to introduce the Turkish reading public to Western classics, the translated texts were used, I argue, as a means in fashioning and controlling the emergent national identity during the first decade of the Inonu era.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Writing Program in the English Department, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA

Publication date: September 3, 2017

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