Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar

Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar bigraphy, stories - Turkish writer

Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar : biography

23 June 1901 – 24 January 1962

Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar (23 June 1901 – 24 January 1962) was one of the most important modern novelists and essayists of Turkish literature. He was also a member of the Turkish parliament (the Grand National Assembly of Turkey) between 1942 and 1946.


He is one of the most important authors of Turkish literature, successfully combining Eastern and Western cultures within his writings. Yahya Kemal Beyatlı played an important role in his upbringing. In his poetry, he uses Turkish classical music and dreaming as the textile of his works. Both in his poetry and novels psychological analyses, history, the characteristics of his time, the binding between the society and the individual, dreams and the problems of civilization are given a great place. One of his most significant works is a novel entitled "The Time Regulation Institute" (Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü) (2002 English paperback edition: ISBN 1-892381-03-6). The book has been widely acclaimed as an ironic criticism of the bureaucratization process with the implication that its title suggests, though that is not what the book is all about. In fact, the book can be read from quite different perspectives, and cannot be exhausted in only one reading. First of all, it is a great psychological analysis of a man who suffers from being unable to adapt himself to his time, in other words to modern times. So the fact of bureaucratization is indeed incorporated into a broader problem: modernization and its impact on the individual. Most of the characters of the novel seem to be struggling in strange ways in order to survive in modern times. In this way, the concept of "time" occupies a central place, giving a deeper sense, even a philosophical taste to the novel.

Also in English

  • A Mind at Peace, trans. by Erdag Göknar, Archipelago Books (2008) ISBN 0-9793330-5-9 (a story of the people of Istanbul, set at the beginning of World War II)

Bibliography in English

  • The Time Regulation Institute (Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü, serial novel, 1954), trans. Ender Gürol (Turko-Tatar Press, 2001).
  • A Mind at Peace (Huzur, serial novel, 1948), trans. Erdağ Göknar (Archipelago Books, 2008).


Tanpınar was born in Istanbul on 23 June 1901. His father was a judge, Hüseyin Fikri Efendi. Tanpınar’s mother died at Mosul, when Tanpınar was thirteen. Because his father’s vocation required frequent relocation, Tanpınar continued his education in several different cities, including Istanbul, Sinop, Siirt, Kirkuk, and Antalya. After quitting veterinary college, he resumed his educational career at the Faculty of Literature at Istanbul University, which he completed in 1923. As a literature teacher, he taught at high schools in Erzurum (1923–1924), Konya, Ankara, the Educational Institute of Gazi and the Fine Arts Academy. At the Fine Arts Academy, besides teaching literature, Tanpınar taught in branches of aesthetics in arts, history of art and mythology (1932–1939). From 1942 to 1946, he entered the Turkish National Assembly as parliamentar of Kahramanmaraş. In 1953, he made an extensive journey to Europe, traveling many countries within six months such as France, Belgium, Holland, England, Spain and Italy. Tanpınar died of a heart attack on the 24 January 1962 in Istanbul. His grave is in the Aşiyan Graveyard, Istanbul.

Bibliography in Turkish

  • Poem (Şiirler, 1961)
  • Story (Abdullah Efendinin Rüyaları, 1943; Yaz Yağmuru, 1955; Hikâyeler, 1983, Dergâh Yay. 2002)
  • Novel ([A Mind at Peace’]’, English translation of Huzur, 1949; Dergâh Yay. 2004; Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü, 1962; Sahnenin Dışındakiler, 1973; Mahur Beste, 1975; Aydaki Kadın, 1987)
  • Essay (Beş Şehir, 1946; Yahya Kemal, 1967; Edebiyat Üzerine Makaleler, 1969; Yaşadığım Gibi, 1970)
  • Monography (XIX. Asır Türk Edebiyatı Tarihi, 1949)
  • Beş Şehir (Five Cities) Writings on the cities of Ankara, Erzurum, Konya, Bursa and Istanbul
  • The Time Regulation Institute (Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü, 1962)