SAİT FAİK ABASIYANIK (1906-1954)
Sait Faik Abasıyanık was born in Adapazarı on November 23rd, 1906 to a prominent family. He spent his early youth in his hometown, and attended a private school called Rehber Terakki. Due to the Greek occupation of the city, his family was forced to move to Bolu, and then to Istanbul. He completed his secondary schooling in Istanbul Erkek Lisesi and in Bursa Erkek Lisesi. After two years of study at the Faculty of Letters of Istanbul Darülfünun, in 1930 he went to Grenoble, France in order to continue his higher education at the Faculty of Letters. During his three years in France, Abasıyanık got well acquainted with the bohemian lifestyle. Later on, this would have an important impact both on his personality and his art.
Upon his father’s request, Sait Faik Abasıyanık returned to Istanbul in 1933, and established a business partnership with a friend of his father’s. However, this venture was a failure and Abasıyanık decided that he would give up his carrier in business for good. Later, for a short period of time, he worked as a Turkish language instructor at the Halıcıoglu Armenian Orphans School, and started his career in journalism. In 1925, the periodical Mektep published his first poem “Hamal” (“The Porter”). Fame found him in 1934 as the periodical Varlık published his stories. In his fiction, Abasıyanık chose to deal with the life of workers, fishermen, orphans and children in destitution, underprivileged persons, and vagabonds. In general, Abasıyanık recorded the experience of these individuals using the fly-on-the-wall technique and preferred to remain as an observer. However, Sait Faik Abasıyanık did not force himself to stick to a particular style, instead he perceived life as it was, and tried to compose his stories with a pure and naïve approach that was as human as possible. Following the death of his father in 1939, he was severely depressed, and this human sensibility became particularly noticeable.
Sait Faik Abasıyanık wrote his poems in free verse, and in terms of temperament he should be considered more of a poet than anything else. Yet, he preferred writing fiction rather than poetry, and it is probably this naïve attitude that was responsible for his beautiful stories. Sait Faik Abasıyanık wrote with a passion and proclaimed “I would go mad if I did not write.” In his stories, he criticized the wealthy, privileged class and accused them of being snobbish and abusive, and he chose to defend the poor. He was especially successfully in expressing human trust and the joy of life that emerged from it. He is considered a master storyteller because within the short span of the genre, he managed to portray and defend an array of human thought, emotions and conditions, with a special emphasis on individuals who did not lose anything from their humanities despite the abuse that they withstood. From 1929 to 1948, Abasıyanık led a successful and prolific literary career, but eventually had to stop writing because he was inflicted with cirrhosis. In 1953, he was made an honorary member of the International Mark Twain Society due to his “services to modern literature,” and in 1954, close to his death, he resumed his writing. The condition of Abasıyanık’s health was probably responsible for making his stories even more emotional; close to his death he became increasingly attached to life, and even more sensitive to human suffering. Abasıyanık died on May 11, 1954.
Sait Faik Abasıyanık's works:
Poetry : Şimdi Sevişmek Vakti (Now It is Time to Make Love, 1953).
Novel: Medar-ı Maişet Motoru (An Engine for the Sign of Livelihood, 1944, With the title Bir Takım İnsanlar –Some People, 1952), Kayıp Aranıyor (Lost Wanted, 1953).
Short Story: Semaver (Semovar, 1936), Sarnıç (Cistern, 1939), Şahmerdan (Punch Press, 1940), Lüzumsuz Adam (Unnecessary Man, 1948), Mahalle Kahvesi (The Café of the Neighborhood, 1950), Havada Bulut (The Cloud in the Sky, 1951), Kumpanya (Theatretical Company, 1951), Havuz Başı (The Side of Pool, 1952), Son Kuï¿½?lar (The Last Birds, 1952), Alemdağda Var Bir Yılan (There is a Snake in Alemdağ, 1954), Az Şekerli (Slightly Added with Sugar, 1954), Tüneldeki Çocuk (The Child in the Tunnel, 1955),
Interview: Mahkeme Kapısı (The Gate of Court, 1956).
Note: Later, the works of the author were collected by Bilgi Publishing House in 12 volumes under the title of “Bütün Eserleri” (Collected Works, 1970-82). All works of Sait Faik were re-published by Yapı Kredi Publications in 2003.
* Biographical information concerning Sait Faik Abasıyanık has been gathered from Tanzimat’tan Bugüne Edebiyatçılar Ansiklopedisi.
Reference: Yesim Gokce (Bilkent University)/Turkish Cultural Foundation.
Some selected examples (please click on pictures to enlarge):