Other literary forms
Although he is remembered primarily for his poetry, Nazim Hikmet (HIHK-meht) also became known early in his career for his plays; among the most notable of these are Kafatas (pb. 1931; the skull) and Unutulan adam (pb. 1935; the forgotten man), which deal with the practice of psychology and the conflict between worldly recognition and inner dissatisfaction. Other works in this genre, however, have been criticized for a facile identification of personages with political and social standpoints that they were meant to represent. Hikmet subsequently moved in other directions in his dramatic writing, first with works such as Bir ak masal (pb. 1945; a love story), which attempted a modern interpretation of traditional Middle Eastern characters. Other plays involved experiments with old and new technical forms, as a part of the author’s effort to adapt classical literary themes to contemporary concerns. Among later plays, by far the most widely known was van vanoviç var myd yok muydu? (was there or was there not an Ivan Ivanovich?), which was written in exile and was first published in a Russian translation in 1956. In this contribution to the literary “thaw” in the Soviet Union, the author took issue with the personality cult and rigid, unswerving norms of criticism that had dominated creative writing under dictator Joseph Stalin.
Hikmet’s narrative fiction is rather uneven; there is some moving and effective writing in Sevdal bulut (1968; the cloud in love), which brings together short pieces, including children’s stories, written over many years. His novels tend to display his ideological concerns. Of these perhaps the most interesting is Yeil elmalar (1965; green apples), which deals with crime, corruption, and penal detention. Also of interest as a semiautobiographical effort is Yaamak güzel ey bekardeim (1967; The Romantics, 1987). Works of political commentary furnish direct statements of the author’s views on leading issues of his time; his treatises on Soviet democracy and on German fascism, both originally published in 1936, are particularly revealing in this regard. Other insights into the writer’s thought may be gathered from his collected newspaper columns and compilations of his personal letters.