From social to intellectual structures : creating subject and language in Oğuz Atay's texts

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Bilkent University
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An important move of Oğuz Atay, in his novels Tutunamayanlar (The Disconnected, 1971–72) and Tehlikeli Oyunlar (Dangerous Games, 1973) is his turning attention to the intellectual questions of Turkey and the dilemma of institution of authorship through the type of “the disconnected” who is overcome by his emotional contradictions but also ventures to come to terms with himself or herself. In the first part of this thesis, in order to reveal the foundational bases of Oğuz Atay’s fictional subjects, I apply to Jean-Gabriel de Tarde’s understanding of society as the determiner rules of movement of inter–mentalities, called micro-sociology, instead of Émile Durkheim’s sociology. In that respect, it is argued that Oğuz Atay constructs the subject not as the representative of the given discourses and ideologies –viz., produced in accordance with ready formulations, convictions, and abstractions – but rather as social types with a potential of intentional emotionality. Further, I argue that the type of the disconnected was produced in and by the peculiar conditions of the Turkish modernity. By the way of projecting the intellectual conflicts of the novel characters as the antagonism embedded in the social structure of the country, Oğuz Atay equips fictional subjects with an emotional content. In Oğuz Atay’s texts, the discourse is constructed in a way to overcome the impotency of linguistic representation through the application of the same very language. Therefore, in the second part of this thesis, I employ the tools of psychoanalytical method developed by Jacques Lacan (with its differences from Sigmund Freud’s) to analyse the question of meaning and representation of the subject and language. In this part, I focus the strategical methods used by Oğuz Atay to negate central signifying regimes. I also develop a frame to show how the construction of the subject and a narrative discourse produce respective themes about one another. It is argued that in these texts which open the literacy and novel writing to an investigation, meta–fictional and linguistic plays are constructed to project the cultural memory and collective reaction in the country, Turkey. In the last analysis, my survey attempts to show how Oğuz Atay, as an intellectual/writer, in these novels, reveals what he calls “Türkiye’nin ruhu” (the soul of Turkey), and its pivotal aspects and questions. In this way, I aim to contribute to discussions on the question of signification, language, representation, and the subject, both in the novels and in the social and intellectual structures of Turkey.

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The Disconnected, Dangerous Games, Social type, Representation
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