Where Language is Ripped Apart: Absence and Illegibility in Bilge Karasu's The Garden of Departed Cats
Keywords:Linguistic engineering, Turkish literature, postmodernism, language purism, translation
This essay explores the linguistic and figural repertoire of the postmodern Turkish novelist Bilge Karasu (1930-1995), historicizing Karasu’s textuality amid efforts in the Republic of Turkey to engineer a ‘pure Turkish’ (‘öz Türkçe’) cleansed of the multilingual Perso-Arabic expressions of Ottoman and early post-Ottoman belles-lettres. Dickinson argues that Karasu’s texts embrace and exploit precisely this engineered language, in order to then critique and defamiliarize the ideologies of language that engendered it. More broadly, the essay meditates on linguistic purity and modern monolingualism not only as constraints on meaning and literary craft, but also as a potential reservoir for the poetic and civic imagination.
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