REPUBLIC OF TURKEY MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND TOURISM

NECATİGİL, Behçet

Poet, writer and translator (b. 16 April 1916, İstanbul – d. 13 December 1979, İstanbul). He used the names of Behçet Necati, Necati Gönül until 1943, after 1943 he used the name of Behçet Necatigil. The reason why he used the surname Necatigil is because of the respect he felt for the Divan* poet Necati and for his father. Also he used the pen names Küçük Muharrir, Bedri Tezgit and İzzet Geyve. He changed his surname Gönül to Necatigil by deed poll in 1951.

He was from a family from Kastamonu. His father Hacı Mehmet Necati Gönül was educated as a hafiz (knowing the Koran by heart) and then went to İstanbul to study at the Madrasah, worked as a professor of religious preaching, inspector of the Singer Company, he was the Mufti of Beşiktaş and Sarıyer and then he retired. His mother Fatma Bedriye Hanım was born in 1896 and two years after she gave birth to her son Mehmet Behçet, she died because of fever in 1918. He had two sisters from his father’s second marriage, Sıdıka Sebahat (1921) and Ayşe Fehamet (1923).

He attended Beşiktaş Cevri Usta Primary School for four years in 1923. After his father moved to Kastamonu because of his job as an inspector for the Singer sewing machine company, he completed his education at Kastamonu Teacher Training School for Boys in 1927. But in the same year he caught tuberculosis and couldn’t go to school for two years. His father, who returned to his job as a religious preacher, moved back to İstanbul. So he continued his secondary school education at Kabataş High School in 1931.

He finished Kabataş High School Literature Class as the top student in 1936. He graduated from İstanbul University, Faculty of Literature, Department of Turkish Language and Literature where he entered as a student from İstanbul’s Teacher Training School in 1940. He studied German at the faculty and went to Germany to improve his language several times. During this period he studied with the well-known literature scholars Cahit Külebi, Mehmet Kaplan, Tahir Alangu, Ahmet Ateş, Fahir İz, Samim Kocagöz, Salah Birsel and Sabahattin Kudret Aksal.

The first place at which he worked as a literature teacher was Kars High School in 1940. When he became ill because of the cold and severe weather conditions of the city, he was transferred to Zonguldak Çelikel High School. He worked there together with Rüştü Onur and Muzaffer Tayyip Uslu who were poets and writers. His poems and essays were published in Karaelmas magazine. But when adenitis tuberculosis appeared again because of the polluted and damp weather in Zonguldak, he was appointed to İstanbul Pertevniyal High School as a literature teacher in 1943 at his request.

After working for two months at Pertevniyal High School, he did his military service in Ankara and İstanbul as a reserve officer between 1943 and 1945.

After, he was appointed to Kabataş High School as a literature teacher. In the same year his first poetry book Kapalıçarşı (The Grand Bazaar) was published. He continued doing his job and he entered İstanbul University, Faculty of Literature, and Department of German Philology. He left there after two years when he got his German Language Certificate. He met his wife Huriye (Korkut) in 1948 and they got married in 1949. They had two daughters, Selma (1951), Ayşe (1957).

He worked as a literature teacher at various secondary and high schools in İstanbul and at İstanbul Çapa Institute of Education, Department of Literature between 1960 and 72. He officially retired in 1972. After retirement, he studied at İstanbul Universty, Faculty of Economics, Institute of Journalism and Public Relations and at Yıldız Technical High School. In 1979, he died at Cerrahpaşa Hospital where he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He is buried in Zincirlikuyu Graveyard.

He began to be interested in literature in Kastamonu in 1927 when he was a secondary school student. He published the magazine Küçük Muharrir in his own handwriting, so his first readers were his friends and relatives. The person who motivated him was his Turkish teacher, the poet Zeki Ömer Defne. He used the name Küçük Muharrir (Little Writer) in the newspaper Akşam in which his poems, short stories and anecdotes were published between 1931 and 32.

His first poem Gece ve Yas (Night and Mourning) was published in the magazine Varlık when he was a high school student. In the following years, his poems and translations were published in the famous magazines Varlık, Türk Dili, Yeditepe,Oluş, Gençlik, Yeni Dergi, Yeni Edebiyat, Yelken, Ataç, Yenilikler, Yeni İnsan and his articles were published in the newspaper Cumhuriyet.

Besides being a poet, he was also known as a biography and radio playwright. He adapted twenty-two novels and short stories from Turkish and foreign writers for radio.

Of course the thing that made him famous besides being a poet was his works Edebiyatımızda İsimler Sözlüğü ve Edebiyatımızda Eserler Sözlüğü (The Dictionary of Names in Our Literature and The Dictionary of Works in Our Literature). These skillfully written books attracted interest from literature researchers and were very useful in spite of their deficiencies and they established themselves as resources that were the first of their kind.

Since he knew German and French well, he did perfect translations. The writers whose works he translated most were K. Hamsun, M. De Unamuno, H. Heine, T. Dorst, S. Zweig, R. M. Rilke and H. Hesse.

With his work Eski Toprak (Ancient Land) he received the 1956 Yeditepe Poetry Award, with his book Yaz Dönemi (Summer Season) he received the Turkish Language Association Poetry Prize, with his poem Kurtlar (Wolves) that he translated from Carl Zuetmayer, he received the first prize at the Turkish-German Association Poetry Awards. After he died, the Behçet Necatigil Poetry Award was named after him. This award is given every year on 16 April, which is the anniversary of his death.

All his works were collected and published between 1981-1989 by Hilmi Yavuz and Ali Tanyeri after his death. Yapı Kredi Publications also published all his works from 1993.

WORKS:

POETRY: Kapalı Çarşı (The Grand Bazaar, 1945), Çevre (The Environment, 1951), Evler (Houses, 1953), Eski Toprak (Ancient Land, 1956), Arada (In the Middle, 1958), Dar Çağ (Narrow Age, 1960), Yaz Dönemi (Summer Season, 1963), Divançe (Small Collection of Lyric Poems, 1965), İki Başına Yürümek (Walking in Two, 1968), En / Cam (The Most / Glass, 1970), Zebra (Zebra, 1973), Kareler Aklar (Squares Whites, 1975), Sevgilerde (In Love, selections from his poems, 1976), Beyler (Gentlemen, 1978), Söyleriz ( We Say, 1980), Yalnızlık Bir Yağmura Benzer (Loneliness Looks Like Rain), his translated poems, published and prepared by Ayşe Sarısayın and Selma Esemen, 1984).

DICTIONARY: Edebiyatımızda İsimler Sözlüğü (Dictionary of Names in Our Literature, 1960, 13th edition, 1989), Edebiyatımızda Eserler Sözlüğü (Dictionary of Works in Our Literature, 1979, 3. edition. 1989).

ESSAY-RESEARCH: Bile / Yazdı (Even / Wrote, 1979), Ertuğrul Faciası (The Ertuğrul Disaster, 1995), 100 Soruda Mitologya (Mythology in 100 Questions, published and prepared by Hilmi Yavuz, new edition 2002).

ANTHOLOGY: Atatürk Şiirleri (Poems about Atatürk, 1963).

LETTER: Mektuplar (Letters, prepared by A. Tanyeri H. Yavuz, 1989).

RADIO PLAY: Yıldızlara Bakmak (Looking at the Stars, two plays with Kadın ve Kedi (Woman and Cat, 1965), Gece Aşevi (Night Soup Kitchen, five plays with Son Tren (The Last Train), Emekli (Retired), Araştırma Salonunda (In the Research Room), Kutularda Sinek (Fly in the Boxes, 1967), Üç Turunçlar (Three Seville Oranges, six plays with Yol (The Way), Uzak Yol Kaptanı (The Captain of Faraway), Hayal Hanım (Lady Dream), Süslü Karakol Durağı (Ornamented Police Station), İki Çapraz Çizgi (Two Crossed Lines, 1970), Pencere (The Window, four plays, 1975), Ertuğrul Faciası (The Ertuğrul Disaster, 1995)

SIMPLIFICATION: Musullu Süleyman (Mussullu Süleyman, by Ahmet Mithat Efendi, 1971).

Bütün Eserleri (All His Works) which was prepared by Hilmi Yavuz and Ali Tanyeri, was published by Cem Publication House: I-II: his published poetry books (1981, 1982); III, IV: his unpublished poems (1985), V, VI: his prose (1984), VII: Radio Plays (1985), Şiirler-Bütün Yapıtlar (Poems-All His Works, 2001). His translated poems were collected in the book Yalnızlık Bir Yağmura Benzer (Loneliness Looks Like Rain, 1984).

Besides these, he translated from K. Hamsun, M. De Unamuno, H, Heine, T. Dorst, S. Zweig, R. M. Rilke and H. Hesse.