Transnational Ästhetik des türkischen Alltags: Emine Sevgi Özdamar's Das Leben ist eine Karawanserei

by Sheila Johnson
Transnational Ästhetik des türkischen Alltags: Emine Sevgi Özdamar's Das Leben ist eine Karawanserei
Sheila Johnson
The German Quarterly
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JOHNSON The University of Texas at San Antonio

Transnationalhthetik des turkischen Alltags: 
Emine Sevgi 0zdamar's 
Das Leben ist eine Karawanserei 

Why has Emine Sevgi ~zdamar's novel, Das Leben ist eine Karawanserei /hat zwei Tiiren / aus einer kam ich rein / aus der anderen ging ich raus, continued to in- trigue so many academics and the broader reading public since its publication in 1992?' Out of the considerable body of lit- erary writing in German by migrant women, Karawanserei has indeed emerged as outstanding in many respects. This novel, written in German by a Turkish- born woman who began learning the lan- guage only as a young adult, has been ap- proached from myriad perspectives rang- ing from those who laud it as a colorful, oral-style narrative bringing new imagery into German-language literature to those who use it as an example of migrant, femi- nist, hybrid and/or minor literature. How- ever, Karawanserei's special literary qual- ity with regard to the working together of form and content has not previously been submitted to systematic examination. Aes- thetic analysis in a cultural context offers fresh measures of, and insights into, Karawanserei's caliber and complexity, al- lowing the text to be read with different critical criteria, and consequently, in a new light. The artistic merit of the novel re- flects positively not only on migrant litera- ture but also on contemporary literature generally. My essay explores both the spe- cific issues of Ozdamar's aesthetic accom- plishments in Karawanserei and the broader issue of the role of literary analysis in German Studies.

What constitutes ~zdamar's artistic achievement in Karawanserei? A theoreti- cal key to the idea that conceptually and aesthetically unifies the novel is provided by Theodor Adorno's imperative that the critic must ask the right questions about the aesthetic structure of a work of art in order to gain access to its truth content (Wahrheit~gehalt).~

Also pertinent to my interpretation is Adorno's reminder that an artwork "needs to be deciphered, and that deciphering is the task of criticism" (Hohendahl238). To date, the question of whether or not the novel has a conceptual center, a truth content, has not been posed. Yet, approaching Karawanserei through close reading and structural analysis re- veals the pervasive thread of a truth con- tent that unites ~zdamar's novel and transforms it into a literary work of art.

Karawanserei's amalgamating force is the author's figuration of freedom (Frei- heit). 0zdamar illuminates the idea of free- dom with originality while imbuing it with multiple implications-social, economic, political, sexual-within a Turkish con- text. Because Karawanserei has remained aesthetically undeciphered, the significance of freedom has been overlooked. The word Freiheit itself is used only sparingly in ~zdamar's novel, but the ideal of free- dom pervades the development of the nar- rator-protagonist and the portrayal of the family, community, and nation in which she grows up. Karawanserei's truth con- tent of freedom functions pivotally both in

The German Quarterly 74.1 (Winter 2001) 37

the novel's structure and its content. My essay explains how the author's ideas about freedom locate and embody the truth content that is the foundation ofKarawan- serei's aesthetic and conceptual harmony.

Giving literary form to freedom and its absence grounds the choice of memories that diegetically drive Karawanserei. The novel conveys not sentimentalized remi- niscences, but rather recollections molded by the author's deeper thematic structur- ing principle, her novel's truth content. bzdamar's memories are filtered through time, maturity, and most importantly, through her underlying artistic concept. In Karawanserei she aestheticizes the quotid- ian.As a novelist, 0zdamar transforms her Turkish childhood and youth, realizing in her art the proposition that freedom can unlock "life's riddle" (a motif that will sub- sequently be treated in detail). What is unique about the concept of freedom por- trayed in Karawanserei? The answer to this question further demonstrates what gives aesthetic form to ~zdamar's novel. By virtue of its artistic form, Karawanserei manifests itself as more than a tool (Werkzeug) in the service of content- and language-oriented analyses.

Reading Karawanserei critically in terms of the working together of form and content, that is, by elucidating the novel's aesthetic structuring, stands in marked contrast to the early reception by Bach- mann-Preis judges and media reviewers in such venues as Tagesspiegel, Rheinischer Merkur, Neue Zurcher Zeitung, Frankfur- ter Rundschau, Frankfurter Allgemeine, Suddeutsche, and taz both before and after bzdamar's receipt of the Ingeborg Bach- mann Prize in 1991 and Karawanserei's publication in 1992. bzdamar, the first "Fremde" to receive the Ingeborg Bach- mann Fijrderpreis, initially garnered widespread praise for the "enrichment" of German literature accomplished by her "exotic" vocabulary and "oriental" meta- phors. Since 1996, in numerous conference papers and in eighteen essays published in

Winter 2001

seven books, in German Studies Review, and in The German Quarterly, Karawan- serei has been used primarily to illustrate socio-critical theses. Certainly Ozdamar's novel has proved to be a rich source of ma- terial for what Jost Hermand calls the aca- demic trend ("Dreh," SI8), but its concep- tual complexity and artistic merit, marks of lasting literature, have by no means been exhaustively plumbed. My own anal- ysis builds on, and occasionally questions, earlier scholarly examinations.

This essay moves beyond using Kara- wanserei and its author essentially "als Demonstrationsobjekte soziologischer The- sen" (GS11: 49).3 Reading bzdamar's novel as a transnational Bildungsroman grounded in an ~sthetik des turkischen Alltags uncovers its truth content and opens new perspective^.^ Recognizing the already considerable scholarly interest ac- corded the novel, the present intention is to dignify Karawanserei further, approaching it within its own cultural and aesthetic frames of referen~e.~

Care is taken to heed Adorno's warning-expressed in charac- teristic polernic: "Wer an der Kunst nur ihr Stoffliches erfart und es zur hthetik aufplustert, ist banausisch, wer sie aber allein als Kunst wahrnimmt und daraus eine Prkirogative macht, bringt sich um ihren Gehalt" (GS 7: 518). For Adorno there is no question of making a choice be- tween "Kunst" and "Gehalt," but rather an insistence on the "nexus between the aesthetic and social" (Hohendahl 204). That is also the commitment of this essay in which I listen carefully to the author's voice with the purpose of understanding what she has to say and how she says it ar- tistically.

Notwithstanding the valuable individ- ual insights into Karawanserei offered by other interpretations, the picture of the novel that emerges from them resembles the proverbial elephant-well-described in its discrete parts but not yet perceived as an artistically crafted whole. However, de- tailed examination of Karawanserei as a Bildungsroman not only makes evident its aesthetic integrity but also discovers a key to its truth content, which, because it is so smoothly integrated into the novel's form, is not immediately apparent and is only to be "discerned in a mediated manner" (Hohendahl 238h6 Conveyed through the novel's aesthetic structure, Karawanserei's particular truth content constitutes one of the most significant factors of this much-examined, autobiographically based work. Truth content comprises the novel's "Problemzusammenhang (GS 7: 532)' which is the creative constellation relating its artistic form to its cultural (everyday) content. In Karawanserei the truth con-

tent is linked with thefor non-Turks-

"fremdes" milieu and seemingly "ma13- lose," "ubertriebene" language, in which 0zdamar fashions her novel.' In the pro- cess of creating Karawanserei's truth con- tent, she not only renews the "altbekann- ten form of the Bildungsroman, she also al- ters the reader's image of the land and people that are the subject ofKarawanserei by rendering the novel's truth content transnational. This yields a form of truth

that transcends borders.

Although multicultural discourse in the German Studies of the 1990s fre- quently focused on alterity and "das Frem- de," with respect to Karawanserei, it has not penetrated to the novel's overarching prin~iple.~

According to Adorno, the truth content necessitates a critical elucidation of the connection between aesthetics and soci- ety: "[Aln den kthetischen Bildern ist gerade, was dem Ich sich entzieht, ihr Kollektives: darnit wohnt Gesellschaft dem Wahr- heitsgehalt inne" (GS 7: 198, emphasis mine). Analyzing how 0zdarnar organized Karawanserei exposes the way its aesthetic form works subversively with its cultural content to produce socio-political criticism of forces against freedoms.

0zdamar's sense of "social responsibil- ity" as expressed in Karawanserei can be demonstrated by appraising the structure of the novel as a Bildungs- or Entwick- lungsroman, as numerous scholars have designated it based on the novel's content. Furthermore, understanding the novel's aesthetic components leads to deeper com- prehension and appreciation. Spurred by the phrase "pharisiiischen Lethargie" that Adorno used to describe "Kunstwissen- schaftler" who ignore "Strukturfragen" in their critical analyses (GS 7: 517), I under- took my examination of the structure of 0zdamar's Karawanserei. This approach opens unexplored avenues of appreciation of it as a multi-faceted work. How, with Karawanserei, does Ozdamar expand the ~sthetikdes Alltags in German-language migrant literature and in literature as a whole? She accomplishes this with a

"transnational" double perspective trans- figuring the ordinary, i.e., her novel's con- tent of the Turkish Alltag, through the hthetik of both Turkish and European principles of literary form.g Although Karen Jankowsky recently commended Ger- manists for "[mloving beyond exclusively literary analyses" (272), the fact is that, with respect to Karawanserei specifically and migrant literature generally, there is little systematic literary analysis to move beyond.

Accounting for the content of Ozda- mar's novel is, of course, integral to any in- terpretation. What makes up that content? In the simplest terms, Karawanserei is a first-person account of a Turkish girl's life from the prenatal stage until her late teens. The actual time span encompasses the years from the end of World War I1 through the early 1960s, with older charac- ters who represent Turkish history reach- ing back to the beginning of the twentieth century. The open end of Karawanserei de- picts the protagonist in a train on her way to work at Telefunken in Berlin.

But Turkiye, not Germany, is the focus of Kara~anserei.'~

0zdamar's socially en- gaged portrait of the Turkish Alltag re- flects the broader aesthetic and political nature of her own transnationality. Her artistic and intellectual experience as an adult in the theater world of Turkiye and Europe-the two German states and Franc-have equipped her with the knowledge and techniques that enable her aesthetically to control the plot structure and narrative stance of her novel, which takes place entirely in Turkiye. Germany's overt role lies in dzdamar's decision to write in German." In Karawanserei, Ger- many is infrequently mentioned and is typically referred to as one of numerous exploiters of her native country: "[Dlie Engliinder, Franzosen, Russen, Deutschen, 0sterreicher gaben sich gegenseitig die Hand und bauten nebeneinander, um das Osmanische Reich danach untereinan- der zu verteilen" (197). Direct references to Germany commonly take the form of critical litotes and hyperbole.12 For exam- ple, in the novel's two "lessons" on Turkish history one finds the following comments, first, from the narrator's maternal grand- father, who remarks sarcastically: "Bis- marck fragte den Sultan hoflich, ob er aus der Stadt Pergamon ein paar Steine als Andenken mit nach Deutschland nehmen diirfte" (K 39). Then from her "history teacher" Mehmet Ali Bey, whose interpre- tation of Germany's relationship to Tur- kiye is equally negative: "Die Deutschen bauten die Bahnlinie nach Bagdad, und die osmanische Regierung muJ3te pro Kilome- ter zahlen. Die Deutschen haben, um die- sen Kilometerverdienst zu vermehren, un- notige gefaltete Schlangenlinien gebaut" (K 197). Such ironically mediated polemic is representative of the novel's pervasive engagement on behalf of those being taken advantage of, whether by outside, interna- tional forces of which Germany is one, or by internal (here, Turkish) abuses on national and intra-communal levels alike.13 0zdamar leaves the historical theme of the Ottoman Empire as a colonizing force un- developed. The content of her novel re- mains local although its problematic does not.

Karawanserei's chronologically compressed versions of Turkish "history" use imaginative, even comic imagery to convey an attitude of socio-political criticism against despotism.14 In style and tone, the grandfather's and Mehmet Ali Bey's nar- ratives of Turkish history cited above are plainly similar. Their greatest difference lies in the fact that the grandfather's atti- tude is one of bitter cynicism stemming from the failed promises of the Ataturk revolution in which he had participated. To a degree, the narrator's own experiences come to justify his standpoint and explain her consequent leaving Turkiye. In con- trast, the "teacher" Mehmet Ali Bey re- mains defiantly idealistic and concerned with the fate of the Turkish common man. His position expresses a perspective that the author 0zdamar also wants repre- sented, although in Karawanserei her fo- cus is more on the common woman. Analy- sis of the novel's unique combination of form and content discloses a Bildungs- roman of a Turkish female.

Reflecting transnational literary influ- ences, 0zdamar combines everyday con- tent with aesthetic form to develop artisti- cally her ~sthetik des tiirkischen Alltags. Directly and indirectly, Karawanserei me- diates classical and contemporary litera- ture of both Western and Turkish prove- nance. With all her wit and humor, the author nonetheless represents "die alltag- lichen Vorgange der [turkischenl Wirklich- keit in einem ernsten und bedeutenden Zusammenhang" (516, emphasis mine) which is Auerbach's description of the real- istic novel.15 That the Turkish "reality" differs from Western concepts is empha- sized by University of Ankara Germanist Gursel Aytes who refers to Karawanserei as an "Entwicklungsroman" (174) and ob- serves that the novel is "wie ein turkischer Teppich mit farbigen Motiven struktu- riert" (174, emphasis mine).16 More specifi- cally, an American scholar remarks that ~zdamar, "with a magic-realist style [...,I pushes past the boundaries of the realistic narrative in the Bildungsroman [...I," in ways reminiscent of socially and politically engaged "international writers" like Grass and MArquez (Jankowsky 266). In his des- ignation of ~zdamar's novel as a "Bildungsroman," British Germanist and 0zdamar specialist David Horrocks em- phasizes the adult author's on-going con- cern with community and language, noting that Karawanserei depicts "the young nar- rator's initiation into a particular culture and community" through "linguistic edu- cation" aimed at "recapturing [...I a mother-tongue, that a foreign tongue, such as the German she writes in, can never en- tirely replace" (27). The novel reflects, ac- cording to Jankowsky, the narrative of "mi- grants' multiple struggles in transition from communal to individual identity" (269). To be sure, on the basis of her rootedness in the Turkish community, the central character is shown to develop in consciousness both of her nation and of her own individuality. More recently, Ghaussy concluded that "Ozdamar enmeshes her narration with what is commonly consid- ered a distinctly 'Western' literary genre, that of the Bildungsroman, creating a hy- brid genre [...I7' (4). Such sensitivity to the sophistocation of ~zdamar's artistic prow- ess was largely lacking in the initial recep- tion of the novel. Demonstrably, structural analysis of Karawanserei makes evident how 0zdamar went about aesthetically "creating a hybrid genre."

It must be emphasized, however, that Karawanserei is not, as Jankowsky has claimed, a "Bildungsroman of the making of a female guest worker from Turkey" (265). Quite the opposite. As Dagmar Ploetz accurately points out: "[Ozdamar] wollte alles andere als einen Entwick- lungsroman schreiben, schonum die Kind- heit in der Turkei nicht als reine VOR- Geschichte zu behandeln und um die eigene Entwicklung in Deutschland nicht als einzig folgerichtige darzustellen. Es sindfiirsie zwei Welten, die nebeneinander und doch in produktiver Wechselwirkung stehen" (82). ~zdamar's perspective is not determined by her short time at Telefun- ken in Berlin (as a machine operator and translator-mediator for other Turks; see also Die Briicke vom Goldenen Horn). On the contrary, the "Artistin" (K 117), ac- tress, director, and author Ozdamar, avoids a "EuropeIAsia split" (Jankowsky 264), by drawing freely on the literary traditions of bothcultures. Like her protagonist, the au- thor had early exposure to European, even "Weltliteratur" in Turkish translation (K 269), as well as to the "klassischen Dichter aus der Osmanischen Zeit" (K 329). While Frolich mentions German influence in ad- dition to that of Turkish "modernism" (58) on Karawanserei, Jankowsky describes, in some detail, immediate examples for Ozdamar's writing in the early twentieth century Turkish peasant novel and also in those "didactic texts" by "urban" authors "that tended toward the Bildungsroman," all of whom were inspired by the politically engaged poet, Nazim Hikrnet [1902-19631 (268-69). But neither Frolich nor Jankow- sky explores the aesthetic implications of these multinational models.

That Karawanserei exhibits numerous features of the Bildungsroman has justifi- ably been widely remarked. Even so, previ- ous studies of ~zdamar's adaptation of the genre have not gone beyond the aspects of content. However, examining the aesthetic structure of Karawanserei with reference to German-language examples of the Bil- dungsroman takes contents' analysis a step further and leads to the truth content of freedom in Ozdamar's novel. Karawan- serei incorporates the formal structure as well as the typical content of the classic Bil- dungsroman whose standard is Goethe's Wilhelm Meister, a form ironized by Thomas Mann in Der Zauberberg and par- odied by Gunter Grass in Die Blechtrom- me1 in their individual historical socio-cul- turd contexts. l7Common to these German Bildungsromane is a tripartite division de- picting the protagonist's beginnings, then a pivotal juncture in his life, and finally, the subsequent development in character within a particular environment.

Viewed structurally, Karawanserei most closely resembles Wilhelm Meisters Lehr- jahre. As with Goethe's prototype of the genre, Karawanserei begins with a child starting to interact with its world-Wil- helm through his Puppentheater, ~zda- mar's protagonist (in a magical realistic, yet laconically related scene) during a pre- natal (in utero) train ride with Turkish sol- diers returning from the theater of World War 11. Like Goethe's Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, Karawanserei reaches its turn- ing point literally in the middle, and both novels end with the central character's set- tingout from home to travel into "foreign" parts. Also parallel to Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre, Ozdamar establishes the pro- tagonist's roots in family and community in the first part of Karawanserei. And in the last part, the author develops the indi- vidual identity of the central character to the point that she is able to leave Turkiye in order to test herself in the wider world. Close reading and analysis bring to light the novel's formal division, which has so far been neglected. Commensurately, they enhance awareness and recognition of the author's creative combining of content with form, showing how Ozdamar draws on her broad range of transnational aes- thetic experience in molding the Turkish Alltag into a work of art.

The author's subtle artistry is epito- mized by the almost allegorical middle sec- tion of Karawanserei. The novel's begin- ning (birth) and ending (departure) are self-evident. But the fact that the "middle" of Karawanserei is as clearly definable an entity as theperepetie (Chapter 5 of ten) in Goethe's Lehrjahre, has gone unremarked. A fourteen-page episode situated at the exact center of Karawanserei de- fines, in an aesthetic tour de force, the novel's central theme, its truth content, and that is freedom (K 192-206). In addi- tion, the "middle" episode includes the transformation of the central character from little girl to young woman. Meto- nomically, it thereby encapsulates the es- sence and meaning of Ozdamar's novel. The central passage describes avisit by the protagonist, who is about eleven, and Ali, her two-year-older brother, with a family in a village outside Bursa, the city where the narrator's family has been living since her father's search for work had forced them to leave I~tanbul.'~ The children's trip to the countryside has a cultural/politi- cal impetus. The mother's closest friend, "Tante" Sidika initiates the "visit" by sug- gesting that the children, who have be- come obsessed with Tom Mix cowboy com- ics (i.e., with the consistently condemned, encroaching Americana in Turkiye), spend some time away from this "corrupting" in- fluence, and with her friends, Mehmet Ali Bey and his family.lg That the episode takes place "auf einem kleinen Berg" (K 192), that is, in a region above the protagonist's Alltag, suggests its symbolic significance

from the outset.

The events of the two-day "visit" con- stitute a true nexus between the novel's aesthetic form and its everyday social con- tent. What actually happens? The protago- nist and Ali travel by bus to the farmingvil- lage. At the children's arrival, the author establishes an atmosphere combining ev- eryday ritual and magical realism. She ac- complishes this, for example, when Meh- met Ali Bey ceremoniously greets the chil- dren (and all the other bus passengers), then picks up the two-an 11-and a 13- year old--carrying them magically (no ve- hicle is mentioned), "wie zwei Kiirbisse" (K 192) to his home "auf dem Berg" (K 206).20 Once there, he gathers the young visitors and his family together in the gar- den under pomegranate trees.21 In and around the trees, Mehmet Ali Bey dynami- cally and colorfully relates a polemic ver- sion of the birth of the Turkish Republic from the beginning of the twentieth cen- tury through World War I. Then everyone goes to bed, where the protagonist falls asleep praying for the dead. The second day, on a picnic, "Tante" Miizeyyen, Meh- met Ali Bey's wife, tells two short, para-

ble-like tales, the second resulting in a bonding scene where the protagonist cries with her brother. On the morning of the third day, she and Ali return to Bursa.

This conceptual and aesthetic center of Karawanserei attains an allegorical plane without losing touch with the reality of the Alltag. Like the grandfather, Mehmet Ali Bey brings Turkish history to life both for the central character and for the reader by dramatizing the events and the partici- pants in those events -representative of a wide range of socio-political classes.22 His ideological focus is complemented by Tante Muzeyyen's emphasis on moral strength and political responsibility. Both exemplify political passion and human compassion. The larger role of this family "auf dem Berg" is of a symbolism approaching the mystical (recalling Jesus teaching the les- son of truth on the Mount of Olives in St. John 7),but 0zdamar laces her symbolism with a refreshingly sensual material it^.^^ Correspondingly, the protagonist's experi- ences on the mountain are vital for her sex- ual maturation. Also, in his uniquely earthy way, Mehmet Ali Bey verbalizes the major theme of bzdamar's novel: Freiheit.

The meaning of freedom is the basis of Mehmet Ali Bey's account of history. His narrative focuses on the Turkish people's struggle for freedom and closes: "Als der Erste Weltkrieg zu Ende war, hatten wir vier Millionen Menschen verloren. Steht in Geschichtsbuchern, dap die Soldaten un- term Regen wie Espenlaub zittern, steht nicht" (K 198, emphasis mine).24 The pro- tagonist, actualizing the author Ozdamar's mature, humanitarian perspective, takes the raconteur's conclusion to heart. It begins to be evident to her that the "real" Turkish history is the story of what hap- pened to the people involved. The implica- tion of Mehmet Ali Bey's "lesson" is that only with and within the "Menschen" of the Turkish Alltag can the idea of freedom be sustained.

bzdamar's treatment of the historical founding of the Turkish Republic, mytho- logized in the beginning of Karawanserei by the grandfather, is reprised by Mehmet Ali Bey within the allegorical context of the middle episode with both men emphasiz- ing the negative aspects (the despotism and superficiality of the rulers, the mal- treatment of the common people). In revis- iting the subsequently perverted begin- ning of the Republic, the author questions it, juxtaposing the historical myth against the protagonist's everyday reality and also her mystical experiences.

Although the word Freiheit is, with the single exception of the grandfather's "his- tory lesson" (K 43),used explicitly only in the middle episode, the quest for freedom -national, communal and individual-is the focus of Mehmet Ali Bey's "lesson" and constitutes the truth content of ~zdamar's entire For the protagonist, free- dom becomes the answer to "life's riddle." The exploration of the meaning of freedom is therefore the intrinsic cultural as well as individual truth content of Karawanserei in the sense that Adorno used the term: "Der Wahrheitsgehalt der Kunstwerke ist die objektive Auflosung des Ratsels eines jeden einzelnen. Indem es die Liisung verlangt, verweist es auf den Wahrheits- gehalt" (GS 7 :193, emphasis minehZ6 "Life's riddle" is a recurring motif in Karawanserei, and the potential solutions to which 0zdarnar exposes her narrator point to and point up the novel's truth con- tent, the significance of freedom.

The protagonist's mystical transition to seeker of freedom during her visit "auf dem Berg" contains the magical element which Adorno considers necessary to achieve the "ultimate goal of aesthetic re- flection" (Hohendahl210), the goal of art, that is, to subvert, "the objective character of knowledge through its prerational, magic form" (Hohendahl208). In the sense of questioning received wisdom (i.e., that contained in history books and in the real cultural limitations for women), Karawan- serei is a subversive work. In this frame of reference, Mehmet Ali Bey's magical-real- istic portrayal of Turkish history opens the way for the young protagonist to begin comprehending the meaning of freedom in the context of her own roots, a step essen- tial for her maturation. He directly ad- dresses "das grofie Geheimnis ["das Gt- sel"] des Lebens" (K205), when he quotes a poem by the 20th century literary folk-poet Orhin Veli (Kanik 1914-1950): "Das grofie Geheimnis des Lebens, schau, / nur eine Wurzel ist ubrigvom Baum unter der Erde, /wie siifi sol1 die Welt sein, schau, Tausende /Menschen ohne Beine, ohne Arme, / leben weiter" (K205). The implicit answer to the enigma of life in Veli's poem is persever- ance. The significance of the poem for Mehmet Ali Bey is that, through persever- ance, the goal of freedom can be achieved. But, like the grandfather, he offers only a critique of how freedom has not yet been realized in Turkiye. In addition to Mehmet Ali Bey's poetic addressing of "life's rid- dle," he asks the direct question, "Was ist Freiheit?" (K 193), and he also voices the human dilemma the concept poses: "Wer wufite schon, was die Freiheit ist? Wer wollte sie, die Menschen? Wuljten die Menschen, was die Freiheit ist?" (K 195).

That the questions-the riddl-about the meaning of freedom remain unanswered in Karawanserei is symptomatic of ~zdamar'srefusal to limit the meaning of her text by reducingit to a facile solution to the problems exposed. She leaves it open to "second-reflection" and "emphatische Kri- tik" on the part of the reader, which, ac- cording to Adorno are the impetuses, which "zum Wahrheitsgehalt dringen" (GS 7: 518).27Ozdamar's inclusion of magi- cal realistic elements in Karawanserei are expressions of Turkish literary traditions integrated into the Western Bildungs- roman-structure. The author's authorita- tive aesthetic maneuvering harmoniously unites these forms to convey her artistic and cultural idea of the significance of free- dom. This aesthetic union marks the liter- ary quality of Karawanserei.

The archaic element of Turkish tradi- tion is expressed in the protagonist's prayers for the dead, which also achieve lit- erary significance. In a personal epiphany experienced during the "visit," she ini- tially links the idea of freedom to a sense of traditional responsibility to remember the dead, a value already modeled by her grandmother. The central character re- sponds to Mehmet Ali Bey's "history les- son" with the longest of her ten litany/ prayers for the dead, this one designating 153 individual^.^^ The motif of death repre- sented in her prayers occurs literally hun- dreds of times throughout Karawan~erei.~~ The prayers for the dead are part of the memory work of 0zdamar's ~sthetik des turkischen Alltags in this novel. The long lists of the dead and their living relatives epitomize what Horrocks refers to as Ozdamar's emphasis on "the traditional cultural values of remembrance and of rev- erence for death in life" (39).

But the prayers also function structur- ally in the novel, marking transitions in the protagonist's life. In them, boundaries of time, place, social class, and role disap- pear. Her prayers are transnational and transcend social status. For example, the name Ataturk is followed by Isadora Duncan and preceded by "die tote arme- nische Frau, die in Istanbul im Haus- eingang gestorben ist" (K 199). The way dzdamar orders the names exemplifies what Martin Jay calls "non-hierarchical mimesis" (32), a structuring through which she creates her own artistic reality. Additionally, Horrocks notes the transna- tional implications of the prayers: "the conspicuous effort [Ozdamarl puts into mourning might well serve as an object les- son to Western readers, not least those Germans of the post-war era who have been criticized precisely for their 'Unfa- higkeit zu trauern' [...I9' (39). With the prayer said "auf dem Berg" beyond the context of her immediate family, the pro- tagonist acts for the first time on her dawn- ing comprehension of individual responsi- bility. But she has further steps to take.

In the course of the central character's maturation, bzdamar's particular Asthe- tik des tiirkischen Alltags unites the alle- gorical instruction of the first day "auf dem Berg" with the everyday lessons of the sec- ond. The cumulative effect of the two days serves to reinforce Mehmet Ali Bey's sym- bolic lecture on freedom because the ele- ment of personal responsibility is added. At the family picnic, Tante Muzeyyen tells a parable of a man who, when thieves take all he has, follows them, knocks at their door, sleeping mat in hand, and says: "'Sind wir denn nicht umgezogen?"' (K 203). Mu- zeyyen and Mehmet Ali's children realize that their mother is talking about the ne- cessity of taking the initiative in dealing with Turkiye's corrupt ruling "Demokra- tische Partei" (1950-1959) that has also been the object of their father's criticism. The children's immediate response to the parable shows that they appreciate their responsibility to draw conclusions ground- ed in socio-political values derived from their parents' principles, and they also re- alize the importance of acting against cor- rupt powers.30 Ozdamar has the narrator recount Tante Muzeyyen's story, allowing the reader to infer that the protagonist, too, has internalized its implications, i.e., has begun to grow up.

The first time the central character takes the initiative to apply the lessons of the "visit" to her Alltag occurs in conjunc- tion with the novel's ubiquitous motif of Wei~~en.~l

Here, as elsewhere, 0zdamar links Weinen with the Todesmotif, but she also ascribes to it the broader function of being the narrator's "glue" to her family and community.32 This is illustrated by the protagonist's tears evoked by Tante Mii- zeyyen's second parable. The woman re- lates a local legend about the moor ("Sumpf") where the family is picnicking. "Vor funfzig Jahren" (K 205) a man from the community with his sons drove their wagon into the moor and irretrievably dis- appeared. Muzeyyen states the tale's moral: "Die Welt ist ein Sumpf, wir sind drin und wissen es nicht" (K 205). Immedi- ately thereafter, Mehmet Ali Bey supports the points of both Tante Muzeyyen's para- bles by quoting the Orhan Veli poem about persevering in the face of seemingly insur- mountable difficulties. Acting on her dawning maturity, the protagonist initi- ates closer bonding with her brother, and they cry together.33 This is a critical time for them because it is shortly before both enter puberty when they will no longer en- joy the less tradition-bound freedom of childhood interactions between the sexes. Confronted with comprehensible implica- tions of the abstraction, "freedom," which are Mehmet Ali Bey's lesson, and with the political awareness of her contemporaries obvious from their reaction to Tante Muzeyyen's first parable and her personal response to the second, the protagonist recognizes that she, too, has the responsi- bility to make individual, social, even polit- ical, judgments and commitments. This re- alization inaugurates her critically con-

scious maturity.

The metamorphosis of the central char- acter from naive child to sexually aware young woman is demonstrated by two scenes that frame the "visit" episode. This frame provides a further example of how Karawanserei's narrative structure is ar- tistically formed. In both scenes Ali gets his sister to do the shopping chores their mother had assigned him. The first occurs shortly before the two siblings leave for their visit in the country when Ali sends the protagonist to buy sugar. The grocer takes advantage of her gullibility, calls her "du," and tricks her out of her five lira. When she realizes what has happened, she stands alone in the street crying until Ali comes looking for her. The second scene closes the "visit" frame and takes place im- mediately after the protagonist and Ali re- turn to Bursa, when he again sends her shopping. This time she is to buy a more "adult" commodity, coffee. Accordingly, the shopkeeper responds to her as a blos- soming young woman. The scene is sexu- ally highly charged. He addresses her as "Sie," remarks on her beauty, and makes much of the fact that their hands have touched in the transfer of money. This time she goes home by herself and, in an image reminiscent of her grandmother's account of her own first orgasm ("Da sind meine Beine von der Erde hochgeflogen, ein Feuer aus meinen Fiirjen ist wie ein Pfeil durch meinen Korper durch und aus meinem Kopf gegangen" [K 25, emphasis mine]), the protagonist, too, feels her feet about to fly off the ground: "[Ilch hielt mich beim Gehen am Briickengitter fest, ich dachte, sonst werden meine Beine von der Erde fliegen und ich falle in den Bach" (K 207, emphasis mine).34

Instances of "flying," like prayers for the dead, indicate junctures in the protago- nist's process of mat~ration.~~

The prece- dent of "flying" is set both by the grandfa- ther, who, in the context of his metaphori- cal critique of history, tells of flying with his horse September to confront government abusers of Turkish "Freiheit" (K 45), and especially by the grandmother, who refers to "flying" several times in her everyday discourse. Therefore, metaphors of "fly- ing" comprise a continuation of literarily compressed atavistic nature (the parents' generation is skipped) within the narra- tion of traditional Turkish ways of dealing with the world. The resulting aesthetic in- terrelatedness of the text enhances its lit- erary and its socio-cultural quality.

In yet another demonstration of Ozda- mar's complex structuringof her novel, the sensual reaction of the coffee grocer to the newly matured protagonist in the "visit's" frame is prefigured in the episode "auf dem Berg" itself. On the way to the family pic- nic, an old man responds to the budding womanliness he perceives in the eleven- year-old girl by clinging to her respectfully proffered hand as if transfured, holding fast until Mehmet Ali Bey tactfully asks for per- mission to continue on:

Wir kiiRten im Gehen alle GroRvaterhan- de. Ein GroRvater, dem ich seine Hand ge- kul3t hatte, hielt meine Hand in seiner Hand [...I dann horte er mit Handeschut- teln auf, hielt meine Hand in seiner ruhi- gen Hand. [ ...] Dann schuttelte er wieder lange meine Hand [...I. Die kleinen Hun- de kamen und sammelten sich unter un- seren sich schuttelnden Hiinden, leckten meine und des GroRvaters FUe. Mehmet Ali Bey sagte: "Gibst du uns deine Erlaub- nis, daR wir gehen." Der GroRvater gab uns seine Erlaubnis und stand da, mit of- fenen, lachenden Augen und Mund, und blieb da so, bis wir nicht mehr zu sehen waren. (K203-04)

The account of the physical reaction of the "grandfather" marks the first recognition of the central character's nascent nubility following the lesson about freedom on the previous day. The authorial perspective guides the narrative voice as it "serenely" (Frolich 65) relates details to the reader, details that convey the protagonist's acute awareness of the stir she is causing and also the author's understated sense of hu- mor.

Although Karawanserei is narrated by a child who knows only Turkiye, it is struc- tured by a transnational author in her for- ties, Ozdamar, who knows Tiirkiye, its tra- ditions and poetry, as well as Europe, particuarly its theater and literature. But most notably, the authorial aspect of the novel's double perspectitve comes from a mature woman who knows herself and the values her life's experiences have confirmed, values personified in their germi- nal state by the protagonist of Karawan- serei. The voice of the innocent but all-see- ing and -hearing child, who tells her (hi)story, is 0zdamar's aesthetic choice:

das ist weder auf Turkisch noch auf Deutsch gedacht, das ist kindlich gedacht. Und das bedeutet niemals 'kindisch', son- dern daR es [...] eine internationale Spra- che ist, eine Sprache aller Kinder und iiberall zu Hause, -naturlich speziell be-

zogen auf diesen Roman. (Wierschke, Schreiben 261)

Both the narrative voice and authorial perspective of Karawanserei are female. The process of maturation of the protago- nist integral to the novel reinforces its fe- male centeredness. Moreover, the quality of human freedom, which is the object of the central character's quest, is, like the authorial perspective, not only "interna- tional," but also beyond gender. It is com- munal.

~zdamar's story is of the community whose memory she honors in her "quasi- autobiography" whose foundation is the fascinatingly quirky and tenaciously gen- erous female types that she aesthetically

remember^."^^ The central character's roots in the Turkish Alltag make credible the parallel between her individual changes and those of her country. These roots are nourished by her close and open relationships with the women of her com- munity. They help make her "awakening sexuality" part of her "route to emancipa- tion" (Horrocks 37), to freedom. The defi- ant attitudes of Karawanserei's many strong women provide models of women's self-realization in the context of the Turk- ishAlltag. In particular, they articulate the indispensability of education for a woman's freedom. Culturally destined to lose her "freedom" at puberty, the protago- nist has both a mother -herself a bride at thirteen -who insists that her pubescent daughter get an education equal to that of her brother Ali (K 272) and an illiterate grandmother who warns: "[Llerne deine Bucher, damit du nicht die FiiSe des Mannes waschen muat" (K 213). The ac- tual physical manifestations of the narra- tor's puberty occur considerably after her psychic maturation begins during the "visit." The changes continue to be wel- come but, nevertheless, increasingly prob- lematic for the central character and for those around her. But her unabashed di- rectness evokes smiles from the reader: "Mein Busen war gekommen. Mich stor- ten die Miinnerstimmen. [...I Ich sagte meiner Mutter: 'Ich mochte einen BH' [...I eine Zwillingsmutze" (K 243) .37 Only when she is about sixteen do menses begin: "Eines Tages kamen meine Tage. Ich sagte es meiner Mutter: 'Mutter, Blut lauft"' (K 326). Whereas the protagonist's "blood" is positive, a sign of maturation, the progres- sively bloody and brutal destruction of freedom in the Turkish Republic around her is not.

Karawanserei links Turkish history and culture inextricably with the protago- nist's development and ventures to find and sustain individual and communal free- dom. '3eder Mensch ist Teil seiner Kultur, der kulturellen Errungenschaften seiner Zeit, aber gleichzeitig schafft dieser Mensch auch Kultur," asserts Ozdamar in an interview.38 The diminishing chances for self-realization in Turkiye explain the protagonist's departure. The author shows the basis of such a desire in a Turkish-born woman, a transnational desire, which leads the central character to leave Tur- kiye in order to realize the freedom to go on growingas an individual. The omnipresent statues of Ataturk in Karawanserei are re- minders of the Turkish dream of freedom, but Ozdamar shows how their symbolism has been corrupted by his legacy of milita- rism (e.g., rapes by the soldier-guards in the basement of the Ataturk mausoleum [K 2321, a brutal military Putsch in Ataturk's capital Ankara [K 2821).

The protagonist's waxing maturity and the lessons she has learned "auf dem Berg'' are constantly put to the test of keeping the principle of freedom vital. Near the end of Karawanserei, she stays for a month in a military hospital because hyperthyroidism had made her abnormally active and ner- vous (evidenced in compulsive cleaning and crying). There she is sedated and placed in a "neurological" ward, "Der Saal der Melancholie'' (K 356)' until an opera- tion takes care of her physical problem (K 361). This personal experience with ex- treme psychotic disturbance in clinical iso- lation ("Hier ist Neurologie, wer hier rein- kommt, geht als Toter raus" [K 3561) co- alesces the central character's awareness that, in a Turkiye of growing militarism, and as a woman in a still basically patriar- chal culture, she cannot realize freedom, the quality of which neither she nor even Mehmet Ali Bey defines, but whose essence she has sensed in herself and those of her community-primarily women-who hold to their ideals. The central character's own immaturity and the patriarchal limits of the Turkish society in which she lives, how- ever, do not allow the protagonist scope to act on her own ideals: her desire for free- dom and her sense of communal/social re- sponsibility.

Realistically, 0zadamar portrays the narrator comprehending her Alltag not only through listening to others, but just as significantly through seeing. Although words referring to eyes, seeing, and looking are used approximately 1400 times in Karawanserei, sometimes fifteen times on a single page, they are so much a part of the narrative flow that neither reviewers nor scholars have remarked on this phenome- non before. This all-pervasive, poetic itera- tion adds to the lyrical effect of the novel. In effect, the reader is led through Karawan- serei engaged in "seeing" the protagonist's world along with her.

Specifically, the motif of schauen unites social content with poetic form and artistic structure. For instance, it is integral to sev- eral of the Turkish poems quoted in the text. In relation to the socio-cultural mean- ing of ~zdamar's novel explicitly, schauen is the key to "Das grol3e Geheimnis des Lebens." Orhan Veli's poetic exhortation, quoted above, is "schau," which he says twice in the five lines of the poem that Mehmet Ali Bey recites "auf dem Berg." And schauen is the way the narrator seeks to unlock for herself the "Gtsel" posed by the truth content of Karawanserei, i.e., by ~zdamar's theme of freedom. The second "schauen" poem is quoted by the protago- nist herself. The year after the "visit" she remarks, "Ich war sehr gewachsen" (K 2681, then tells of choosing a poem for a school contest. Her choice is a widely famil- iar nature-based poem by Ahmet Hasim (1884-1933) in which schauen is used three times in the eight lines quoted (K 268). Additionally, the grandfather recol- lects an Arabic poet, "Camud," who urged: "'Schaut, die Erde mit ihren Toten warnt euch."'Although 0zdamar refers to "Ab- dullahs Sohn Camud" as if that were the name of a particular poet remembered from her narrator's (and her own) youth, it is probably only a word recalled in conjunc- tion with the particular exhortation she re- members and quotes in German. The cita- tion of "Camud" continues with an allu- sion to the grandfather's initial "Teppich-" narrative: "Diese Welt ist wie ein Teppich [...In (K 308, emphasis mine) combining poetic history with poetic motif. Hasim's and "Camud's" emphasis on schauen re- calls Veli's use of the term (Wilpert, Welt- literatur 690), thus making reference to the central character's seminal experience during the "visit" episode. Such poetic ech- oes further indicate Ozdamar's literary artistry that integrates a wide range of Turkish lyric traditions into her text. As Aytas points out: "Sogar der lange Titel des Romans [...I ist ein dem turkischen Publi- kum gut bekanntes Gedicht von Asik Vey- sel" (173). Nazim Hikmet, the "grol3te[ I lyrische[I Potenz der turkische Moderne um 1930" (Wilpert, Weltliteratur 596), re- cipient of the 1950 Moscow World Peace Prize, is mentioned by name only in the ac- knowledgments to Karawanserei, but Hikmet's spirit of socio-political commit- ment to the freedom of the Turkish people underlies Ozdamar's entire novel.

Karawanserei celebrates the spirit of perseverance of the Turkish common folk, relating it to the central character's quest for freedom. Before she makes her decision to go to Germany, the protagonist observes a series of ordinary people pursuing their goals despite hardships. For example, a young woman in Ankara gets shat on by birds each day on her way to school but doesn't give up (K 365); a sailor on a ship tacking across the Bosporus constantly shifts his praying position in order to keep facing toward Mecca (K368). These images metaphorically express the protagonist's own determination not to let go of the ideal of freedom, the truth content of Karawan- serei. She acts on her desire to grow and ex- perience the world outside Turkiye (repre- sented by names like Mozart, Man Ray, the Beatles, Beethoven). This determination constitutes a "truth content" of transna- tional proportions. Despite the cultural contrast, the essential commonality be- tween the Turkish concept of "leben weiter" (Veli) and the German "wer immer strebend sich bemuht" (Faust II, Berg- schlund) testifies to ~zdamar's purposeful transnationality in her quest for freedom. In Karawanserei, she not only elevates the Turkish Alltag aesthetically to a level tran- scending national borders, but in doing so she also expands the non-native reader's picture of Turkiye.

With this novel, 0zdamar has captured the memory of the Turkish desire for free- dom which took shape in the Ataturk era. Her accomplishment is reminiscent of Pe- ter WeiD' ~sthetik des Widerstands, writ- ten as an "epitaph" to the Arbeiterbewe- gung in the age of fascism. Karawanserei gives a human face to a time in which Ozdamar learned to connect the concept of freedom with her country, her community, and herself. In her novel, she set out "das Land [zul fotografieren, bevor es stirbt," fearing "alle Menschen werden getotet" (Pfister11)because of the degree to which the people's rights and freedoms were dis- appearing under an increasingly martial regime in T~rkiye.~~

To preserve the mem- ories of the people and the "pre-industrial rhythm" she loves (WK 50) were her fur- ther goals. WeilJ, too, was concerned with securing "eine Erinnrung [sic] an die ungenutzte Stiirke, die in jedem noch vorhanden war [...I9' (Erster Band 360).

WeiD's and Ozdamar's subjects belong to overlooked parts of Germany's and Tur- kiye's past respectively. Their novels set monuments to each. But with millions of Turks now part of the German present, a transnationally comprehensible work such as Karawanserei becomes important for its power to open a window to understand- ing-the first step toward accepting-these people's history and culture, to open minds to an appreciation of the hthetik des tiirkischen Alltags. WeiD begins his

1975 "monument" with a scene in front of the Pergamon "Altarfriez" (12-15), but de- votes only one sentence to the "Ausge- plunderten" (14) in reference to those who created it and to how it got to Berlin. ~zdamar's transnational perspective sets the relationship of Turkiye and Germany in quite another light, giving life and voice to the "Ausgeplunderten" WeiD only men- tions in passing. The aesthetically creative nature of Karawanserei lends weight to Ozdamar's critique of both German and Turkish governmental and political value systems.

The protagonist's quest for freedom in the political, cultural, communal, as well as the individual realms stamps her personal- ity. While her "Identitatssuche" takes her a step beyond the Turkish Alltag, it does not divorce her from it. With all her special qualities, the protagonist is not a heroine apart. She never has the chance to be at home in one place but rather grows up all across the country of her birth. Her story and that of her family is the story of Turkiye's people, of Turkiye's Alltag in the twentieth century. The characters become manifest in what they do or say, not in what is said about their thoughts and feelings. This non-judgmental perspective is sus- tained by the point of view--das Schauen und Horen-of the young narrator. Only her "inner life" is developed, and the evolu- tion is perceptible almost exclusively in her actions within and reactions to the world around her, not in her comments about it. The selective presentation of social values as well as the literary modeling of the novel reflects 0zdamar7s own transnationality. As an author, she avoids the pitfalls ofBetroffenheitsliteratur, and her novel's protagonist makes tangible a fascinating melange of ambivalence, combining self- questioning and -doubt (suicide attempts, silences) with self-confidence ("schon," "klug," "verriickt," "Lowentochter" [K 3521). Her development connects logically with her socio-cultural context (suicidal mother, sensual grandmother); it is also tied to history and politics (her grandfa- ther and Mehmet Ali Bey, as well as the boldly "verriickte" women and men in the family's communal circles).

Growing beyond but sustaining these Turkish roots is a strong transnational ele- ment in the turko-, germanophone, bi- cultural 0zdamar. Her novel's innocent, ignorant protagonist tenaciously conveys the author's affirmation of her own origins and their values. The reader emerges with the idea that the central character, al- though the embodiment of ambiguities, is unambivalent in her confrontation with and eventual acceptance of her own hu- manness and that of those in the world into which she was born. 0zdamar 's complexity as an author rests in part on her "capacity to inhabit contradiction^."^^ By means of her transnational artistry, Ozdamar sug- gests that the tenacity, tolerance and con- cern for others will be her protagonist's at- tributes in any new world she encounters. The author's defiance of national borders imbues her writing with force, and the point of view and voice of the child narrator lend Karawanserei its unique lightness. "Ich finde es sehr schon, wenn ich diese gemischte Sprache Deutsch-Tiirkisch oder auch Franzosisch oder was-weil3-ich direkt reden kann und auch lebendig und ohne Grenzen [...I" (WI 266), 0zdamar claims with customary directness. Her own irrev- erence toward linguistic conventions is echoed in her protagonist's individuality within the Turkish community. She insists that her world is transnational: "Mir gefdlt es nicht, sich zu einer Nation gehorig zu fuhlen" (WI258); adding, "Was ich unter 'Kultur' verstehe: das sind Menschen" (WI 262). Karawanserei is an objective demonstration of artistic inspira- tion incorporating, conviction, spontane- ity, and humanity.

What 0zdamsr has done in Karawanserei is to fill the Bildungsroman with the contents and narrative style of Turkish culture filtered through her individual artistry. In this, by now, transnational literary form, she idiosyncratically and mimeti- cally relates the Turkish Alltag of her youth, with its cultural values and archaic traditions. Through Karawanserei's truth content-freedom-0zdamar has created a work of art that optimistically "hold[s] out the hope for a more benign version of mimesis in a future world beyond domina- tion and reification" (Jay 35). Her protago- nist embodies perseverance in the pursuit of freedom. The recurrent mimetic details and language combined with the inner co- herence of idea in 0zdamar's novel rein- force its unity as creative literature.

By giving artistic form to its content, Das Leben ist eine Karawanserei invokes the challenges inherent in aesthetic cre- ativity, which is to distill artistically the es- sence of human experience. dzdamar's text stimulates the reader to "become aware of unexamined assumptions and glimpse worlds different from their own," to cite Andrew Delbanco's definition of the value of literature (38). He adds that litera- ture's "only unchanging 'truth-claim' is that experience demands self-question- ing."41 Aesthetic analysis of the truth con- tent ofKarawanserei demonstrates a tra- jectory of the narrative, a quest of the pro- tagonist that provokes self-questioning in the reader, not only about Turkish culture, but also about herhis own.

The fact that the aesthetic aspects of Karawanserei were so long overlooked or ignored provokes a number of questions: Are German Studies reacting against a post-World War I1 repudiation of cultural

roots tainted by Nazism, a rejection that yielded Stunde Null condemnation of the recent past and Werkimmanent aestheticism? Is not the culture of the German-speaking world poorer if it does not consider the component of aesthetic cre- ativity in migrant writing? "Aesthetics are at the core of our field," reminded the new editors of the German Quarterly in the Fall 1997 AATG Newsletter (3). By Winter 1998, according to those same editors, in "many oral and written reactions" to the initial statement "[...I the word pluralism stirs up hopes or fears of a conservative rev- olution, or aesthetic analysis is equated with a simplistic belief in the power of aes- thetic education, or a debate on the role of the canon is [disparagingly] likened with [sic] a return to Goethe and Schiller" (German Quarterly, For its part, this essay offers evidence that a fresh look at "mi- grant" literature through the prism of aes- thetic analysis can lead to increased appre- ciation and enjoyment of it. Asking ques- tions about texts and contexts forms the basis of German Studies. However, despite the multi-perspectivity of cultural studies, basic questions concerning the aesthetics of literary analysis are seldom asked, par- ticularly with respect to migrant literature in German. The rewards of structurally and aesthetically analyzing Karawansei detailed in my essay, suggest the specific question of why German Studies has thus far overlooked this central avenue to un- derstanding Ozdamar's writing. Evidence of the worth of such questions has been of- fered here with the hope it will stimulate fresh interest in investigating the conjunc- tion of the aesthetic with the social in fu- ture literary analyses.

In relatibn to migrant literature in Ger-

man' sOcio-cultural but

where are the actual theoretical aesthetic and literary analyses within socio-histori-

cal ijzdamar's ~sthetikdes turkischen Alltags unites artistry and magic with the everyday. The ef- fect of her transnational fordcontent

hybridity is to surprise and draw in the reader while subverting preconceptions about Turkiye. Almost a half century ago, Adorno warned against "Bildungsphilis- ter" (GS 11:12), but then he devoted his last, posthumously published work to

"iisthetische Theorie." Schiller's idea that "Kunst" is the "Werkzeug" needed for achieving the "iisthetische Erziehung des Menschen" (Neunter Brief), takes on new meaning at a time when universities are in- creasingly becoming places of Ausbildung rather than Bildung. That the "Menschen" for whom Bildung was long re- served, were an elite-and that Bildungwas indeed the province of the "Bildungs- philister" or "Bi1dungsbiirger"-is, of course, a state best relegated to the past. However, cultivating the ability to value and appreciate artistic creativity, to dis- cover it in new guises, remains an essential tool in the "Erziehung" of minds away from "selbstverschuldeten Unmundigkeit" (Kant), to educated, transnational "Mundigkeit" (Adorno), a battle our pro- fession constantly wages.43


l~zdamar'snovel will be referred to here as Karawanserei and cited in references with the abbreviation K.

2''Alle bthetischen Fragen terminieren in solchen des Wahrheitsgehalts der Kunstwerke [...I. ~dorno,hthetischeTheorie (498). Quota- tions from hthetische Theorie are from Vol- ume 7 and Noten zur Literatur from Volume 11 of Adorno's Gesammelte Schriften, edited by Gretel Adorno and Rolf Tiedemann (FfM: Suhrkamp, 1973-), cited here asGS 7 and GS

3For instance, Karawanserei has served to illustrate scholarly arguments regarding Ger- man Studies (Jankowsky), Imulti-lmltural studies (Gokberk, Seyhan), hybridity (Boa, Wierschke, Seyhan, Ghaussy), minor literature (Boa, Frolich, Wierschke, Ghaussy), detemi- torialization and the nomadic (Boa, Frolich, Ghaussy), women in Turkish society (Hor-

rocks, Muller) and "feminine writing" (Ghaus- sy). Seyhan, for example, criticizes German De- partments that resist "replacing 'close read- ings' that apply external criteria of aesthetic excellence to a work of art with analyses that 'have nothing to do with good literature"' (414). She does not, however, suggest other cri- teria to deal with the aesthetic aspects of Ger- man-language literature.

41n order to underscore the imbrication of art,content, and context in Karawanserei, the German termshthetik andAlltag will be used. Regarding hthetik, this choice is based on Adorno's permeation of the concept ofhthetik with the implication that the aesthetic of agen- uine work of art includes not only the artistic but also the social. With respect to Alltag, my use of the German term grows out of Auer- bach's definition of the mimetic, realistic novel which links the Alltag with the artistic, be- cause ~zdamar's rendering the memory of her young years in Tiirkiye is mimetic (see note 15). Auerbach's Mimesis directly addresses the lit- eraryrepresentation of Wirklichkeit in relation to Alltag: "Die ernsthafte Behandlung der all- taglichen Wirklichkeit, das Aufsteigen breite- rer und sozial tieferstehender Menschengrup- pen zu Gegenstanden problematisch-existen- tieller Darstelllung einerseits -die Einbettung der beliebig alltaglichen Personen und Ereig- nisse in den Gesamtverlauf der zeitgenossi- schen Geschichte, der geschichtlich bewegte Hintergrund andererseits -dies sind, [...I die Grundlagen des modernen Realismus, und es is naturlich, daR die breite und elastische Form des Prosaromans sich fur eine so viele Ele- mente zusammenfassende Wiedergabe immer mehr durchsetzte" (458-59, emphasis mine). As early as 1946, Auerbach had optimistically claimed: "Die Bevolkerungsschichten und ihre verschiedenen Lebensformen sind durchein- andergeschuttelt, es gibt auch keine exoti- schen Volker mehr 1.. .I" (514). Furthermore, in its kthetik des tiirkischen Alltags, Kara- wanserei embodies an "alternative form" that invokes Adorno as interpreted by Hohendahl (242). My use of the term "transnational" is de- rived from Rob Wilson and Wimal Dissanay- ake's (eds.) Cultural Production and the Transnational Imaginary (1996), in particular from Hamid Naficy's essay, "Phobic Spaces and Liminal Panics: Independent Transna- tional Film Genre," in which he characterizes Winter 2001

cross-cultural films by migrants as "transna- tional," and to which he kindly referred me in 1997.

5Adorno notes, "manches spricht dafur, daB die Dignitat der Kunstwerke abhangt von der GroRe des Interesses, dem sie [die Kunst- werkel abzuzwingen sind" (GS 7: 24).

6Adorno asserts: "Der Wahrheitsgehalt der Kunstwerke ist [...I nie durch unmittelbaren Blick [zu treffen . . . ,denn z]u ihrem Wahrheits- gehalt stehen die Kunstwerke in auRerster Spannung" (GS 7: 195, 199).

7The migr~"~remde"dzdamar's

novel realizes Adorno's observation: "Das Altbe- kannte nimmt im Munde des Fremden etwas MaRloses, hertriebenes an, und das eben ist die Wahrheit" (GS 11: 99).

g"Alterity," familiar from Levinas, is used in reference to minority literature in German by aker Gokberkin "UnderstandingAlterityV (1991), "Encounters with the Other in German Cultural Discourse" (Other Germanies, 1997) and "Culture Studies und die Tiirken" (Ger- man Quarterly, 1997). Leslie Adelson applied the term, "alterity," to Jeannette Landers (Fischer, McGowan 35ff) and Ghaussy to Kara- wanserei (German Quarterly, Winter 1999). Social philosopher Bernhard Waldenfels as- sesses the state of integration of "das Fremde" in contemporary society concluding: "Zunachst ist das Fremde fur uns etwas Alltag- liches [...In (16). He emphasizes the implica- tions and relevance of the integration of "dm Fremde" based on the fact that it stimulates provocative questions relating to the Alltag: "Wenn es Fremdes gibt, so wird es sich stets in irgendeiner Weise bemerkbar machen und bestimmte Antworten provozieren" (10). The values of Karawanserei's "other" Alltag have social and aesthetic relevance beyond Turkish borders.

gTurkish Germanist Nilufer Kuruyazici's essay on the "ProzeR der interkulturellen Kommunikation" in Karawanserei thematizes the concept of ~zdamar's 'turkische Alltags- realitat" (181-87). Gursel Aytag (University of Ankara) sheds light on ~zdamar's "turkische Mentatitat" (171 ff).

1°Seyhan has noted how this spelling is pre- ferred to "Turkey," with its obvious pejorative potential, and is "used in all official English documents and correspondence of the Turkish government" (426 n8).

llKarawanserei, 0zdamar declared in an in- terview, grew out of notes "about the plot sequence, the structure of the various ideas and motifs" (50, emphasis mine) in "Living and Writing in Germany: Emine Sevgi 0zdamar in Conversation with David Horrocks and Eva Ko- linsky." This interview will be referred to as H/K. Ozdamar explains her choice of German as follows: "My own language is of course Turkish, but it is no longer the language of my day-to-day experiences. In that sense, German is much more alive for me [...I" (H/K47). "Ich denke, ich schreibe Tiirkisch" (quoted by van Stein). See also Ayta~ (171). There is some controversy re- garding for whom 0zdamar wrote Karawan- serei (see, e.g., Jankowsky 269). The author as- serts: "Initially, I wrote my novel for myself [...]. It was more like a search for identity [...I" (H/K 50).She adds, her aim was "primarily to waken feelings, to open up valves" (H/K51) in migrants and Germans. As Ghaussy claims, 0zdamar's goal was not to "re-writ[e] the 'Orient' from a non-Western perspective [...I through an 'au- thentic' Turkish voice" (4). But rather, 0zdamar's aesthetic sovereignty and secure re- lationship to her own Turkish origins lend cred- ibility to the position that she does, Ghaussy's implication to the contrary, "merely transcribe[ I into German through the fortunate co- incidence of Germany as the location of [her] new 'home"' (4).

12Ghaussy cogently observes that 0zdamar "plays with German orientalist notions about Turks in her novel by mimicking them, re-in- vesting these prejudices with new meanings and creating an awareness for the ways in which they affect a mystification and romanti- cization of the 'Orient' within the German imagination [...I" (3). Breger also thematizes "Mimikry" in Karawanserei.

13Karawanserei focuses on and gives voice to the economically, culturally and politically weak or suppressed, such as women andlor the mentally ill. In fact, the thematic of everything 0zdamar writes, from novels and short stories to dramas, evidences her socio-political en- gagement and is material for another essay.

l4Horrocks describes Karawanserei's "history lessons" as "blowing a great raspberry in the face of all official versions of history and all those who have wielded power in the past" (30).

15Regarding0zdamar's humor, see Horrocks

(37) and Ghaussy (3). Regarding Auerbach's linking of Wirklichkeit with Alltag; see also note 4.

l6See also ~lker Gokberk's discussion of "interkulturellen Hermeneutik" (German Quarterly, 1997).

17Characteristic of the Bildungsroman, ac- cording to Wilpert, is that "der Einflul3 der objektiven Kulturgiiter und der personalen Umwelt auf die seelische Reifung und damit die Entfaltung [.. . vonl (Charakter, Willen) zur Gesamtpersonlichkeit im Mittelpunkt steht

1. ..I" (Wilpert, Sachworterbuch). In Karawan- serei, cultural environment unquestionably determines the development of the protago- nist.

l80zdamar's chronology is not rigid. The protagonist's age and year in school are men- tioned occasionally as markers of change rather than as a Zeittafel.

lgSidika is one of Karawanserei's "Verruck- te," so designated because of her political en- gagement. In protest against the ruling "Demokratische Partei," which is depicted as cooperating with Western exploiters of Tiir- kiye, she regularly sticks a finger through the part of the daily newspaper where the Minister President's-"verkleidet wie die Amerikaner" (K 171)-picture is printed and carries the pa- per demonstrably over her head through the neighborhood streets (K 170). Her politically charged leitmotif is Tante Sidika "mit der gelocherten Zeitung" (K 189). Elsa Sophia von Kamphoevener explains "Bey" as a title of honor meaning "Sohn des Paschas, auch ein Vornehmer oder Reicher" (233).

20Regarding "greeting rituals" see also Ghaussy (7). The transporting scene is remi- niscent of the magical scene in which the then seven-year-old narrator carries her exhausted grandfather from a train to his house near Malatya (K 47-48).

21The pomegranate is a recurring symbol signifying national identification and pride in Karawanserei as in Turkish literature gener- ally (see. e.g., Alev Tekinay's Der weinende Granatapfel).

22Reacting to Mehmet Ali Bey's challenging questions about Turkish history, the protago- nist comments to herself: "In den Geschichts- unterrichtsbuchern liebte ich die Gemtilde von Sultanen und hatte Angst vor den Daten der Kriege usw., weil ich sie nicht richtig auswen- dig [lernen] konnte" (K 194). Clearly, Mehemet Ali Bey's version of history is more memorable.

23Mehmet Ali Bey captures his audience's at- tention with striking physical antics like drop- ping his pants, running around while narrat- ing, climbing a pomegranate tree, and squirt- ing the red juice of the fruit on those below: "Ich sah seinen halben Popo, so lief er vor uns unter dem Granatapfelbaum hin und her und sagte: [...I." (K 195). "Dann zog Mehmet Ali Bey seine Hose ganz aus, stand auf dem Baum wie ein Tarzan und sagte: "Und das war die Lage, als die Jungturken Sultan Nase sturzten und die Freiheit brachten. Die Freiheit war ein Gesetzbuch [...I" (K 197, emphasis mine). Of Tante Muzeyyen, the narrator remarks: "Sie hatte so einen warmen Korper, ich wlirmte mich zu dieser Abendzeit heimlich an ihr" (K 192). This phrase is reprised the next day after the family picnic (K 205).

24In explanation of Turkiye's decision to fight on the side of the Central Powers, Mehmet Ali Bey says with sarcastic terseness: "Der Chef derFreiheit, Enver Pascha, war eitel und ekelte sich vor Schwache, und er ging mit den Deutschen in den Ersten Weltkrieg" (K 197, emphasis mine). The image of the Turkish soldier in the First World War in the grandfa- ther's "Teppich" tale is, in contrast, poetically plastic: "Der GroRvater muRte fur die [Dleut- schen I...] in den Krieg, auf dem Teppich zwischen Flammen und brennenden Tieren und Menschen lief GroRvater, schreiend. Aus seiner Hufte flieaendes Blut fhbte im Teppich ein Dreieck rot, dann wurden groRe Flammen zu kleinen Flammen, die Deutschen musten raus" (K 39). In one of Karawanserei's few ref- erences to the Turkish atrocities against the Armenians, the protagonist's mother tells of the grandfather, who "eine junge Armenierin vor dem Massaker retten wollte" (K 307). This woman became his last (5th or 6th) wife and the grandmother of the central character.

25The grandfather refers to the loss of Ata- tiirk's "Ideen" (K 279), for which he and so many had fought in the establishment of Turkiye as arepublic. He, like Mehmet Ail Bey, blames foreign influence for the failure of these principles: "Manner, mit denen wir in den- selben Wald waren, tanzen jetzt mit ihren parfumierten Frauen, tragen schwarze Hute, feiern gewonnenen Krieg, vergessen ihr Wort Gleichheit-Freiheit [...Iv (K 43, emphasis mine). While equality is implicit in 0zdamar's Winter 2001

conceptualization of freedom, she does not ad- dress it directly with reference to gender, so- cial, economic, or political freedoms. The ideals of Gleichheit-Freiheit lie within but are not limited to Turkish history. They are what in- spired the grandfather and his contemporaries to fight alongside Ataturk. Equality and free- dom are ideals portrayed as having been largely corrupted by politicians and political systems, living on only in the reality of the Turkish Alltag, primarily within the women and some young men of the Turkish commu- nity which the central character sees and hears around her, and mimetically renders. The broader meaning of equality and freedom have clearly never penetrated to a deeper level in the grandfather's personal life. This lack is repre- sented by his memory of the protagonist's grandmother. He is haunted by a mythologized image of having killed this youngest of his wives, whom he had rescued, an Armenian, from the Turkish genocide. His is a romanti- cized vision to which he clings and repeatedly recalls, an image broken by the laconic com- ment of the protagonist's mother that her own mother had died of consumption, not, as the grandfather "remembers" by his having dragged her to death by tying her long hair to his horse's tail.

Z6Hohendahl explains: "The most radical way to conceive the enigmatic character is to pose the question of whether there is meaning or not. [...I Hence, the quest for meaning is a quest for the solution of the artwork's enigma" (201).

27The "archaic nature of art, its proximity to magic, contains the moment of critique that modern rationalism [...]is unable to generate" (204), according to Hohendahl's interpretation of Adorno's ~sthetische Theorie.

28Initiall~ her parental grandmother, in an attempt to teach her Geduld, shows her theuse of the rosary in praying for the dead (K 139). Then, for the first time, the protagonist prays alone (K 140), but she prays principally for those about whom she has heard from her grandmother. Her third prayer grows longer when she integrates her grandmother's "Tote" with her own experiences (K 148). On the last night before her family moves to a cheaper apartment in Bursa, reflecting increasing eco- nomic problems, she prays for "alle Toten, die ich bis jetzt hatte" (K 158-59). The central character is finished with grade school and ready for the sixth Klasse. Her fifth prayer is the one of the "visit" (see above, page 43).

29Almost without exception, commentary on Karawanserei remarks on the prayertlitanies, in which each person named has historical, cul- tural, political, or personal associations. Read- ing them means "[clineAnstrengung fir jeden Leser" (Heinrich Vormweg, dust jacket for Die hthetik des Widerstands,l986 ed.) similar to that required to read Peter WeiR's docu-novel namingof the victims of war and fascism. See also note 28.

30"Die Kinder sagten: 'Mutter, wir konnen auch zum Demokratischen Partei-Haus gehen und sagen: Sind wir denn nicht umgezogen"' (K 203).

31In their various grammatical forms, words referring to crying and death occur about 400 times each in Karawanserei.

32Death and crying are conjoined, for in- stance, in a picnic scene in a Bursa cemetery, reminiscent of the picnic during her visit "auf dem Berg." The protagonist is asked to sing, and the power of her voice binds her, through Weinen, to the dead as well as the living: "Als meine Stimme alle Toten und die wie Tote auf der Totenerde liegenden, lebenden Menschen zum Weinen brachte, sahen wir alle so aus, als ob wir dort geboren wiiren und dort leben wiirden [.. . 1" (K 280, emphasis mine).

33The significance of community in the novel has been examined (Seyhan, Horrocks). But the act of people's crying together has not pre- viously been noted. Crying together is a synecdoche indicating the depth of shared feel- ings. The lack of private spaces in the tradi- tional Turkish family and community fosters the public sharing of feeling represented in Karawanserei. The parents' generation seeks privacy and sublimation in the American mov- ies to which they periodically escape, as does the narrator. In relation to community and the Alltag, Levinas writes: "Filiation and frater- nity -parental relations without biological basis -are current metaphors of our everyday life" (71). Karawanserei embodies such fili- ation and fraternity. With the exceptions of her mother and grandparents, the protagonist's sense of community derives primarily from her experiences with those outside her immediate family, who care for her and one another.

34The protagonist's sexual maturation pro- gresses rapidly in a third and a fourth "shop- ping" episode that follow immediately upon the second one. A "Gemusehandler" begins touch- ing her sexually, but is stopped by his partner. Then the protagonist returns to the vegetable shop on her own and sees that she ends up "wieder hinten in dem Laden" (K 2081, one must assume for more experimentation.

35Seyhan interprets the protagonist's refer- ence to flying as "levitation" when her family makes their nomadic move to Ankara (see K 282): "It invokes the lost spiritual aura of Ana- tolian shamanistic and mystic rituals that are here reclaimed and restored to their potent symbolic meanings. Like the Mevlevi dervishes, who leave their bodily domain in ritual and sacred dance, thenarrator reaches out for a state of transcendence" (K 423). When she moves to Bursa (see K 113) and laterjust before she leaves for Germany (see K 370), the central character also speaks of "flying."

36Karawanserei is a quasi-autobiography in the sense that Franz Stanzel defined quasi- autobiographische Zch-Romane as novels, "in welchen der Ich-erzahler den Mittelpunkt der Geschichte bildet [, und wo] die Spannung zwischen dem erlebenden Ich und dem erziih- lenden Ich das Sinngefiige des Romans be- stimmt" (Formen 31).

37As author, 0zdamar underlines the comic aspect of this "maturation" episode by letting the protagonist's mother, the "Verkaufer auf den Miirkten" and, finally, the protagonist her- self iterate this colorful, direct translation of the Turkish slang for brassiere: "'Zwillings- mutzen, Zwillingsmutzen' (Ikizlere Takke, Ikizlere Takke)" (K 243).

38Annette Wierschke conducted the inter- view with 0zdamar in 1993 and includes it as "Anhang" in her book, Schreiben als Selbst- behauptung. The cited passage is from page

254. The Wierschke interview will be subse- quently referred to as (WI).

39In her interview with Wierschke, 0zdamar qualifies her use of the term "fotografieren" saying that photographing implies an attempt to substitute the picture for the real: "als ob [those who take pictures] zu spat gekommen sind, ein bestimmtes Leben zu leben und dieses Leben ersetzen durch Photographie" (261).

40This is Michael Wood's description of the American author Randall Jarrell. (New York Review of Books, 2 Dec. 1999: 46)

41According to Columbia Humanities Pro- fessor Delbanco, literature is able to slake "the human craving for contact with works of art that somehow register one's own longings and yet exceed what one has been able to articulate by and for oneself. This is among the indispens- able experiences of the fulfilled life [...I7' (New York Review of Books, 4 November 1999: 38).

421nGerman Quarterly 73.1 (2000), Russell Berman (1-3) and especially Sara Friedrichs- meyer (4-7) emphasize the importance of aes- thetic questions and literary studies to Ger- man Studies. They suggest numerous provoca- tive questions relative to aesthetic criticism. However, the authors do not apply any of these questions in actual literary analyses.

43Erziehung zur Miindigkeit. Vortrage und Gesprache rnit Hellmut Becker, 1959-69, ed. Gerd Kadelbach (Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1973-74).

My sincerest thanks to colleagues who have offered valuable suggestions regarding earlier versions of this article: Barbara Simerka and Steven G. Kellman (UTSA), Hans-Bernhard Moeller (UT, Austin), Anke Finger (TX A & M), John Davidson (OSU), and George Lellis (Coker College, SC), who sug- gested the concept of "aesthetic of everyday life." Discussions with Luise von Flotow (Ot- tawa), dzdamar's translator into English, about the unique quality of the author's lan- guage, were useful to my analysis. Nina Berman, Yidiray Erdener and Mohammad A. Mohammad (UT, Austin), as well as Magda Al-Nowaihi (Columbia) were of great assis- tance with the Turkish and Arabic passages in



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