Islam and existentialism in Turkey during the Cold War in the works of Sezai Karakoç

Date
2022-04-29
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Source Title
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
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1469-3542
Publisher
Routledge
Volume
49
Issue
1
Pages
70 - 85
Language
English
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Article
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Abstract

Existentialist thought has influenced arts and literature movements in Turkey starting from the early Cold War years. The Second New movement in Turkish poetry was able to distinguish itself as a literary movement by focusing on the constrained individual who lost their voice and autonomy in the repressive and polarized conditions of the Cold War. Sezai Karakoç (b. 1933) is a prominent Turkish and conservative-Muslim intellectual, and a poet of the Second New whose work shows the effects of existentialist philosophy and he uses existential notions to formulate a doctrine. With this doctrine and his unique perspective of what this article construes to be a part of the Islamic existentialism, Karakoç remains a pivotal figure in explaining existentialism’s influence in Turkish literature and politics from a religious standpoint. Although affected by the existentialist thought, Karakoç refuses Sartrean atheism or Camusian absurdism to understand the laws of existence, and ties both nature’s and human’s reason of existence to Allah with a fundamental belief maintains that everything is linked to Him. In doing so, he uses the notion of death as a transcendental experience for the human beings, which enriches life with an experiment that exceeds the boundaries of the physical rules.

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Published Version (Please cite this version)