The Turkish Ordeal

· Ataturk Research Center CT

About this ebook

The Turkish ordeal: Being the further memoirs of Halide Edib, incorporates the author’s personal account of the Turkish War of Independence.

About the author

Halide Edip Adivar (1884-1964) was a Turkish writer, scholar, and public figure dedicated to the rights of women and their emancipation. She attempted to analyze the rapid transition of Turkish society and to depict the deep-seated conflict the society faced through the clash between Eastern and Western culture.

Halide Edip was born in 1884 in Istanbul as the daughter of Mehmet Edip bey, private treasurer of Sultan Abdulhamit II, later director of the Régie Française de Tabac at Yanina and Bursa. Although she did not attend primary school, she received private lessons from well known personalities in the field of social sciences, philosophy, and mathematics. After graduating in 1901 from the American Girls College in Usküdar/Istanbul, she married her former tutor, the mathematician Salih Riza bey; two boys—Ayetullah and Hikmetullah—were born to the couple. After 1907 her articles were published in the newspaper Tanin and other reviews under the name of Halide Salih.

When her husband decided to take a second wife, she asked for a divorce in 1910. From that year on she taught history and concentrated her attention on issues of education. During World War I she was formally invited to Syria, where she organized the public instruction system and served as inspector of the girls' secondary schools in Beirut and Damascus. In 1918 she married Adnan Adivar, a well-known professor of medicine who later became minister of health under Mustafa Kemal's leadership. In 1918 Halide Edip was appointed professor of Western literature at the University of Istanbul. Following the armistice Halide Edip enthusiastically adopted the peace proposals of President Woodrow Wilson and became an activist in favor of an American mandate. After realizing that none of the defeated nations adhered to Wilson's principles, she changed her mind and espoused the nationalistic cause proclaimed by Mustafa Kemal, later Ataturk.

Halide Edip was the first woman speaker at a mass meeting in Istanbul in 1919, protesting the occupation of Izmir by the Greek armed forces. After the occupation of Istanbul in March 1919 by the British, she fled with her husband, Adnan bey, to Anatolia to join Mustafa Kemal's forces. The sultan's government condemned to death in absentia Mustafa Kemal and five of his closest collaborators; one among the condemned was Halide Edip. After joining the nationalist forces in Anatolia, the young woman writer began to work at the general staff headquarters; later she was moved to the Western front. In recognition of her military services she was promoted to the rank of sergeant.

Following the establishment of the Republic, Edib and her husband were increasingly alienated by the absolutist ruling apparatus of Mustafa Kemal. They left Turkey in 1925, and lived in self-imposed exile in London and Paris until the death of the Turkish leader in 1938. Halide Edip was invited by Columbia University as guest professor in 1928-1929. She taught courses on the intellectual history of the Near East and on contemporary Turkish literature. In 1935 Mahatma Gandhi invited her to India, where she taught in New Delhi. The couple returned to their home country in 1939. From 1940 on Halide Edip headed the chair of English literature at Istanbul University. After the transition to a multiparty system, Halide Edip served one term in parliament as an independent member from Izmir (1950-1954). She died on January 9, 1964, in Istanbul.

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