N%C3%A2zim Hikmet: The Life and Times of Turkey's World Poet

Mutlu Konuk Blasing. Persea (Norton, dist.), $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-89255-417-1
Brown University literature professor Blasing (author of Lyric Poetry: The Pain and Pleasure of Words and translator of Hikmet's work) examines the life and work of Nâzim Hikmet (1902–1963), the indefatigable Turkish poet and ardently romantic communist who spent more than 20 years in prison and exile. Blasing faithfully recounts Hikmet's joyous study in Moscow in the early 1920s, his run-ins with the law in Turkey, his arrest in 1938, and his subsequent release and escape from his homeland, finally ending with his exile back in Moscow. Blasing effectively illustrates how the course of Hikmet's life reflected his two passions: poetry and politics. The biographer is most effective when interweaving examples of Hikmet's poetry with her knowledge of his work, making for fluid and engaging reading. However, Blasing clearly venerates Hikmet, who emerges as nearly flawless. The book often reads more like a tribute, and passages chronicling Hikmet's personal or professional missteps appear infrequently and awkwardly. Still, the biography, published simultaneously with the first English-language edition of Hikmet's final book, Life's Good, Brother, will help new readers discover the poet's work. 12 b&w photos. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/06/2013
Release date: 05/01/2013
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