Beat Turkey

A Belated Influence

Authored by: Erik Mortenson

The Routledge Handbook of International Beat Literature

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9780415785457
eBook ISBN: 9781315210278
Adobe ISBN:


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The Beat relationship to Turkey is a strange one. References to Turkey appear in numerous Beat writings, but Istanbul never hosted a Beat enclave like the ones that formed in Paris or Tangiers. In fact, only two Beat writers ever traveled to Turkey. Peter Orlovsky visited the country in the early 1960s, before reuniting with Allen Ginsberg in India. Ginsberg often talked about visiting Turkey, but only arrived for a much-overdue trip in 1990. Neither of these Beats, however, wrote extensively of their Turkish experiences. While Beat writers were, for the most part, widely-traveled and widely-read, their limited contact with Turkey meant that a chance for a fruitful dialogue and cross fertilization, on both sides, was initially missed. In the early 1960s, many European writers became friends and even collaborators with the Beats as their fame spread throughout Europe, but the absence of visits by Beat authors and a paucity of translations meant that few Turkish writers were aware of the movement when it emerged. Isolated translations of Beat works appeared in the 1960s and 1970s, but it would not be until the 1990s that the Beats and their texts became widely known to a new generation of “underground” writers like Hakan Günday and küçük iskender.

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