The effect of paratexts on fiction: Bir Muâdele-i Sevda [An Equation of Love]
Embargo Lift Date: 2018-09-27
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In this study, Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar’s (1864–1944) novel Bir Muâdele-i Sevda [An Equation of Love], serialized in 1899, is analyzed with its paratexts. Focusing on the preface and the author’s interviews concerning the novel located outside the text, their effect on the processes of reading and interpretation is observed using Gérard Genette’s terminology of “paratext”. Paratexts in short are elements such as the titles, covers, prefaces, epilogues, epigraphs and dedications the texts in book form have, and the interviews, conversations, lectures, journals etc. that contain any statement related to these texts. These elements can get involved in the processes of interpretation and evaluation, and change how the text is perceived. They can also expand the text’s semantic field, and give it new insights and contexts. The novel’s preface accordingly functions through the issues of realism and the cheating woman; the novel is read in terms of these two contexts. In order to concretize the author’s sense of realism, the “hayaliyun–hakikiyun” [romanticism–realism] discussions between Beşir Fuad and Menemenlizade Mehmet Tahir are examined, and the author’s serialized play İstiğrak-ı Seherî (1886) which ended these discussions is studied. Afterwards, Ahmet Mithat’s and Halit Ziya’s senses of realism are included; and both the author’s role in the discussions of the period and his sense of realism are concretized via comparative readings. In the other paratextual element of the novel, the interview texts, the author states that he initially had the intention of killing off the female character but changed the plot in order not to lead a reader, who was reading the novel and was in a similar situation to the male character in the novel, to do something bad. Therefore, information concerning the text alters the ways it is read, interpreted and evaluated. Additionally, how the novel can be changed according to the demands and expectations of the reader is quested within the author’s serial novel writing. The relationship between the author, reader and the publisher is sketched out, and the fact that the author can alter the text as stated is argued providing examples from the world literature. At the end of the study, it is concluded that paratexts have a function that can alter the ways fictional texts are read and understood, and change their positions in the history of literature.