ISTANBUL - HURRIYET DAILY NEWS
Halide Edip Adıvar. Hürriyet photo
Secrets about Halide Edip Adıvar, the renowned author of the late-Ottoman and early-Republican eras, have been revealed in a new book.
As famous for her engagement in politics as she was for her literary works, Adıvar’s prolific life has been illustrated by İpek Çalışlar, who, after many years of research, sheds light on many dark parts in the author’s biography.
Published by Everest Books, "Halide Edip – Larger than Her Biography” (Halide Edip: Biyografisine Sığmayan Kadın) has a few chapters examining certain events of 1915 and Adıvar’s alleged role in them via the letters she wrote to Cemal Pasha, one of the founders of the Committee of Union and Progress.
The other striking chapters of the book are about Adıvar’s devoted relationship with Atatürk, her role in the national liberation movement, and her escape to the United Kingdom.
Speaking to Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, Çalışlar said this book is an alternative to official history. “Until now Adıvar’s literary life has been in the forefront. But there has been very little emphasis on her politics. Adıvar is an object of interest in the Western world,” she said.
One of the most widely known arguments of the Armenian diaspora is that Adıvar had an active role in the events of 1915, and that she helped the conversion of orphaned Armenian kids to Islam in the Ayin Toura camp in Lebanon, following Cemal Pashas’s orders.
"Unlike what has been claimed Adıvar clearly states in her letters that she does not approve of the 1915 events. They ordered her to perform the tasks at Ayin Tura but she argued heatedly with Cemal Pasha about the children’s conversion and their being given Turkish names,” Çalışlar said.
“During the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the establishment of the Armenian nation-state further effected Adıvar’s inclination toward nationalism,” she said. “Although she first referred to the events as ‘massacre,’ she later said, ‘We have slaughtered each other, but we still cannot deny the pain and suffering everybody has gone through,’” Çalışlar said.
Çalışlar said the reason she focused on Adıvar’s politics was because she was the “only woman around [in the political circles] in those times. She is a historical personality, and last but not least she was a dissenter.”
Saying that Adıvar was also famous in the international arena, Çalışlar added: "Adıvar ranked high in the list published during the First World War about prominent women in the Ottoman Empire. Of course this is not the only reason she was so prominent - while she lived in England she had close contacts in the Western world."
Çalışlar said her relationship with Atatürk was not a love affair, adding that she based her research on the letters she found in the Columbia University library. “This book will lead the way for further research,” she said.