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Two Names Of Theater Literature In The Tanzimat Period: The Copyright Issues Of Mehmed Rıfat And Hasan Bedrettin Pasha In “Temâşâ” And The Fırst Known Dramaturgy Of Turkish Theater Literature

İbrahim İmran Öztahtalı


The first examples of the Turkish theatre, which has a long history, have been found in ancient Chinese sources, and these can be traced to shamanic culture. From the appearance of Turks in Anatolia to the Tanzimat period, which was shaped by the western influence, Karagöz, Puppet, Meddah and Traditional Improvised theatre fed the Turkish theatre. Europe, released from the darkness of the Middle Ages, in the light of the concepts of right, freedom, and equality of the XIX century, witnessed both political and social changes. The mirror of the troubles experienced in this century was, of course, literature, theatre literature and stage. It was impossible for the Ottomans not to be affected by the modernisation movements and new formations in Europe, especially at the state and the army levels. Defeats and lost of lands on battlefields made it obligatory to be in rapport with Europe in the context of modernisation. In particular, the influence of France in the intellectual field made itself felt in the field of literature. In the 19th century, a period of questioning for the Ottoman intellectual, the route of both intellectual and literary works was passing through France in a way. Even, those who somehow did not pass through Paris were not included in the intellectual class. It can also be thought that these quests arose from the fact that classical literature entered into a repetitive, vicious circle, especially in the literary field. The institution of the Ottoman society, which lagged behind Europe in many respects, especially educational institutions, collapsed and could not fulfil their functions. This situation increased the amount and variety of quests. In this inevitable innovation and change, as Ahmad Hamdi Tanpınar said, among the most important innovations that entered the country between 1839-1856, the theatre was the most important one. The French revolution increased the interest of the Ottoman intellectuals on social issues, and French was the language that was tried to be learned the most. During the Tanzimat period, the French embassy had a significant impact on the development of western-style theatre. While organising essential events both in Izmir and Istanbul, especially in the XVII century, the games played in the French embassy building in Istanbul were critical signals of this effect. This interest also provided great wealth in stories, novels and plays translated from French. The Western Theater, where we started to see the signs and examples much earlier, began to develop and attract attention under the leadership of non-Muslims with the declaration of the Tanzimat. The influence of the Ottoman dynasty and notables in the formation of this interest cannot be denied. Foreigners, especially the ambassadors sent to Europe, carried the cultural products to the capital, accelerating the westernisation efforts. With the staging of copyrighted translation adaptations which were brought to theatre literature, cultural change got a serious impetus, at least in Istanbul. Melodramas were the most remarkable plays of that period. When the Ottoman society, which has a low literacy rate, is taken into consideration, it is clear that the views of Tanzimat writers were correct. According to them, there was a large mass of people to be educated. Tanzimat writers were the ones who would ensure the movement of these people and shape it and show the right way. Theatre was the only collective means of education in this society which was in need of education and cannot benefit from printed books. During the Tanzimat period, melodramas were perceived as a way by which society can understand and acquire moral values alongside issues such as women roles and famililes. Namık Kemal's “Theater” article and Celal Mukaddime are the two masterpieces to reflect the painful process and adaptation problems of the Ottoman Turkish theatre, which had been in the process of learning and adjusting the western theatre until 1908, the declaration of the Constitutional Monarchy II. The main problems that attract attention in the article were the scarcity of copyright works, the shortage of pronunciation by the actors and non-Muslims, and the issue of translation. Two crucial names who contributed to the XIX century Turkish theatre literature are; Hasan Bedrettin and Mehmet Rıfat. The seven games they copyrighted together also contributed to the problem of copyright, which was an essential problem of the period. Many of the plays, which we see staged many times, are regarded as disasters in their own words. The prominent form of the Tanzimat period is melodramas. Some of the works of the authors are melodramas written under the influence of romanticism.