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Behçet Necatigil
(Turkey, 1916–1979)   
 
 
 
Behçet Necatigil

Behçet Necatigil, a poet of the ‘40’s generation, is usually associated with subjects taken from daily life, concentrating on the middle- and lower classes and incorporating both mild political criticism and detailed observations. Necatigil, hovewer, transformed his poetry by utilising a sparing and elliptical language to create multilayered content. He became one of the most prominant figures of language-poetry, which was anomalistically rational and puzzle-like at the same time.  An intellectual focus on domestic life described in stark abstractions and a unsentimental construction of the inner life while pushing language to its limits are the main traits of his poetic strategy.

Necatigil is still a popular poet, while he is also known for his literary dictionaries, translations and radio-dramas. In the Lexicon of Names in Turkish Literature, Necatigil describes himself as following: "He spent his forty years in poetry trying to remind himself of the situations which a middle-class man faces from birth to death as an individual and also to deliver his  real and imaginary lives in the context of house-family-environment triangle. Sometimes he was criticized [...] but still he was cited as a poet who has a consistent and private world by the critics."

Behçet Necatigil stands virtually alone on the modern Turkish poetry scene in terms of his style. According to Talat Sait Halman, in an environment that seems to be polarized between subjectivity and social engagement, "his poetry has a shape and a voice unlike anyone else's. No other Turkish poet is so thoroughly and so staunchily individualistic."

Necatigil was born on the 16th of April, 1916 in Istanbul, died on the 13th of December, 1979 in Istanbul.He graduated from the Turkish Language and Literature Department of the University of Istanbul in 1940. Between the years 1940 and 1943 he worked as a teacher in Kars and Zonguldak, and after completing  military service in 1945, he was appointed to the school he graduated from, Istanbul Kabataş High School as a literature teacher. After working for 15 years in this school, he received a a job at the I stanbul Education Institute in 1960 and worked there as a literature teacher until his retirement in 1972.

Necatigil entered the Istanbul University German Philology as a "guest student" and visited Germany for three months on a student exchange program scholarship in the summer of 1937. In the summer of 1972 he was invited to Germany again by the DAAD organisation because of his contributions to the German literature in Turkey. He continued translating from German and never lost his interest in the German literature and language.

Several of his plays (To Look at the Stars, The Retired) have been translated into German and was broadcasted in German radio channels. In addition, Necatigil is well known for his lexical works, in particular Edebiyatımızda İsimler Sözlüğü (Lexicon of Names in Turkish Literature). Necatigil was honoured with two poetry awards in Turkey: the Yeditepe Poetry Award, 1957 and the Turkish Language Association Poetry Award, 1964.

© Efe Duyan, Talat Sait Halman, The Turkish Muse: Views & Reviews,1960s-1990s

Talat Sait Halman, The Turkish Muse: Views & Reviews, 1960s-1990s

 



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