“Kuyruklu Yıldız Altında Bir İzdivaç” by Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar

Kuyruklu Yıldız Altında Bir Evlenme(Author: Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar) + (Year: 1912) + (Goodreads)

(Around the World: Turkey)


Review:

The title of this book translates as “a marriage under a comet”, the comet in question being the Halley comet. The story follows the lives of several people, who are preparing for the coming of the Halley comet, some of them terrified of the end of the world, and some, taken by the fire of love.

I was rather curious about the book, as it is considered one of the classics of Turkish literature, with the author being one of the people who are still studied in school and university. I can imagine how this book was progressive and unexpected for its time, however, in our age, it seems very grotesquely simplistic in terms of interpersonal relations. The relationship between the main characters develops in a very absurd, intentionally or not so, way, with the main character falling in love with the girl by the end of her first letter to him.

For the life of me, I could not do anything but strongly dislike Irfan Galip, who was the epitome of a daft male who thinks himself intelligent and progressive, while at the same time acting like he is so much better than everyone else, women most of all. His dismissive attitude toward the woman’s desires to be treated as an equally intelligent individual frustrated me so much. Even today I have received that attitude from men and I couldn’t help but hate seeing it in this book, too: “I believe that women are just as smart as men, but please shut up when I speak and leave the men to fix this.” It’s the same thing that I’ve seen with people in highly religious countries who say “I’m atheist, but it would be highly immoral for my sister to be a waitress because it goes against the foundations of society.” IT DOES? Or does it, perhaps, go against the religious beliefs that are so deeply ingrained in you that you don’t even realize that you are abiding by them?

One thing I did approve of however, was the depiction of the woman who, despite everything, was trying to be emancipated and well-read. At the time this book was written, the place of the woman in the Ottoman empire was not in the university or the library, so I can only imagine how shocking it was that the author challenged that position of the woman in his world.

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One thought on ““Kuyruklu Yıldız Altında Bir İzdivaç” by Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar

  1. Michael J. Miller says:

    It’s always fascinating to me to read a book with a dated, yet still-modern-enough to be familiar perspective like this. I had a similar reaction reading C.S. Lewis’ ‘Mere Christianity.’ Granted, it’s a nonfiction book as opposed to a novel but as I read I kept thinking how beautiful his theology was…until he started talking about the role of women in life/society/etc. I know it was written in the 50’s and I know Lewis’ perspective would change as he got older, due in no small part to the influence of his wife, but it’s still jarring to read!

    I like you point about interpersonal relationships too. I feel that way when I watch old movies sometimes as well as when I read older books. I find that I take those things for granted in contemporary fiction. Then when I read/watch some older stories i think, “Wait…what?? They’re in love now?” But kudos to Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpınar for challenging gender roles so intently in 1912! That’s fantastic!

    Like

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