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DERVIS, SUAD (1905-1972).

Kitabhane-i Sudi / Orhaniye Matbaasi, Istanbul, AH 1339 = [1923].

Contemporary full black cloth, gilt lettering title and initial letters of the book’s ex-owner on front board and spine, art nouveau floral blind tooling. Original attractive pictorial cover preserved inside. The title’s calligraphy and cover design are in a striking style signed by “Nuri”. Contemporary front and endpapers. Cr. 8vo. (20 x 14 cm). In Ottoman script (Old Turkish with Arabic letters). 191, [1] p. Occasional foxing on pages. Otherwise, an excellent copy.

First edition in book form of the story collection written by Suad Dervis, a prominent Turkish novelist and journalist and an advocator of women’s suffrage and co-founder of Devrimci Kadinlar Birligi [i.e., the Socialist Women’s Association of Turkey].

Dervis’s story collection Ahmed Ferdi is one of the three story collections published in 1923 after her first novel Kara Kitap [i.e., Black Book, 1921]. The stories in the book were first serialized in Yeni Sark [i.e., the New East], an important newspaper (published between 1921-23, during the War of Independence) that represented especially the early women’s rights movement in Turkey.

One of the early books of Dervis, Ahmed Ferdi contains thirteen stories. The first story called same as the book title is a Kunstlerroman-style fiction of the protagonist Ahmed Ferdi, a sculptor who once was loved by a halayik [i.e., odalisque, female servant/slave] and lost her love. The following story is an example of epistolary literature depicting a young woman who is confined to stay in her room and gradually goes insane and kills his brother. Almost all the stories include gothic elements like ghosts and spectres, madwomen or women having nervous breakdowns, hysterical and obsessive states, anxieties and hallucinations, deep passions, and deep fears, etc. These elements contribute to the writer's depict the psychological depth of the characters. “Halayik” is a common literary figurine of most of the stories, like the writer’s own maternal grandmother, a former slave girl known as Perensaz from the Palace of the Sultan Abdulaziz (1830-1876).

“Suad Dervis’s early novels reveal a deep interest in psychology, especially women’s psychology. The works do not depict ‘Anatolian peasants’ (the fashion of the period) but marginals and representatives of the urban poor. As a novelist who spent her youth in Istanbul and in the metropoles of Europe (Paris, Berlin, Lausanne), Dervis was a distinctively ‘urban’ writer concerned with processes of individualization-a theme which ran quite contrary to the period’s dominant solidaristic/corporatist ideology. Her sincere depictions of human psychology and her exceptional ability to ‘look inside’ herself and others appeared as a stylistic quality in her writing and added to her popularity. (…) Her profundity owed much to her ability to combine analyses of gender and class issues.” (Berktay).

Suat Dervis (Hatice Saadet Baraner) was born in 1905 to an aristocratic and liberal family in Istanbul. She was privately tutored by her sister at home in French and German and in literature and music. After World War I, Dervis went to Germany, where she attended the Berlin School of Music and Berlin University Faculty of Letters. Her first piece of writing was a prose poem published in the newspaper Alemdar [i.e., Standard-bearer] in 1920. She began her literary career writing pieces both in Turkish newspapers/magazines and in German periodicals about Turkey (among them Die Berliner Zeitung). Dervis at the same time started to work as a freelance journalist and reported on the Lausanne Conference in 1922-1923. In 1930, after having joined the oppositional Serbest Cumhuriyet Firkasi (Liberal Republican Party), which advocated women’s suffrage, she ran in the local elections together with Nezihe Muhittin (1889-1958), a leading feminist political figure. They were unsuccessful in the elections and the party itself was soon banned. During the 1930s, Dervis moved closer to a communist position. She got married four times, and her last and longest marriage (1941-1968) is with Resit Fuat Baraner, Secretary General of the Turkish Communist Party. The magazine Yeni Edebiyat (New Literature) was the main media organ of the Party and Suat Dervis was one of its prominent writers. In 1970, she was among the founders of the Devrimci Kadinlar Birligi (Socialist Women’s Association), which aimed to create a revolutionary women’s movement and raise women’s consciousness. Her only source of income was her writing, and she left behind more than 40 novels, 100s of stories, 1000s of articles, and lots of translations.

Sources: The article of Suad Dervis in “A Biographical Dictionary of Women’s Movements and Feminisms: Central, Eastern, and South Eastern Europe, 19th and 20th Centuries” by Fatmagul Berktay. “The Madwoman in the Attic” by S. Gilbert & S. Gubar.

Özege 223., TBTK 5632., As of May 2024, OCLC shows five copies worldwide, none is in the US libraries.