Hayal ve Hakikat (Dream and Truth) is a novel co-authored by Ahmet Mithat Efendi and Fatma Aliye Hanım, and it should be considered side by side with the novel of Ahmet Mithat Efendi called Müşahedat as they are both claim to be experimental novels.
Müşahedat, as its author argues, is a unique novel not only in Turkish literature but also in the world, as the author itself became a main character in the plot. It means that Ahmet Mithat was not only a storyteller but also a character who affects the events and got affected by them. Hayal ve Hakikat is also based on an original idea. It is the first novel in Turkish literature who is written by two authors. As Fatih Altuğ states in the foreword of this novel, the idea was originally owned by Fatma Aliye Hanım and she had already written most of it. However, Ahmet Mithat didn’t accept this request as it is already reached a point and he considered appropriate to work on a new project. The reason why I underlined these is that if it was accepted by Ahmet Mithat in the first place, I would think it as a product of an excitement like a ﬂash-in-the-pan. I would question the experimental nature of this novel and think that as the help of a more advanced and experienced author to finish what an inexperienced author started. It is also important to note that in the time this novel was published, to be a woman author was something extraordinary. Although the Fatma Aliye’s name was not spoken but marked only as a woman author, considering the conjuncture, it was a huge step to the democratic Turkish literature.
The experimental nature of this novel is not only about the number and the genders of the authors. While narrating the unsuccessful marriage between Vedat and Vefa, the first thing that we read is a mail so-called written to Fatma Aliye by Vedat. The love of Vedat and Vefa is explained and the abandonment of Vefa is told. We witness the pain and sorrow of Vedat which concludes to her death. Breaking the fourth wall and leaving the story in a fog with an unexpected way of narrating was something that Turkish reader was not used to. The story is continuing with the answer of Vefa, written by Ahmet Mithat. With this, authors were able to show the details that we couldn’t see when looking with the eyes of Vedat. For those who is curious about this way of storytelling in which the different details are told by different characters can look at the movie “Daisy”. If you watch two different cuts (one is European cut and the other is Korean) can see how the different ordering of the characters telling the story is affecting the feelings of you towards them.
The final part of the novel is called Hysteria. It is written by Ahmet Mithat and it sounds more like a psychology article than a part of a novel. Ahmet Mithat argues that it should be asked to a doctor rather than a poet whether Vedat is right or not. He also takes the role of the doctor he is mentioning and show how Vedat was wrong and her attitudes were driven by her hysteria. This kind of storytelling was not that good I think but it was unique at that time.
As a conclusion, my feelings towards this novel is that Hayal ve Hakikat is not wonderful and is not even good. But from the beginning, I’m only analyzing and questioning the experimental nature of it. Give the devil his due. It was innovator and can even be regarded as avant-garde. Furthermore, although Ahmet Mithat Efendi dominates most of the novel, without Fatma Aliye Hanım, it would be deficient. At the end of the day, the idea came from her, right?
This was translated into English, in Jul 2018.
Featured Image: Rarachovna