Unemployed Before the Founding of Our Institute

I started Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar's Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü tonight –– something we could translate as the Institute of Watch-Setting –– and was immediately entranced [translation is my own, from Tanpınar's Turkish]:
Those who know me know that I'm not very interested in these matters of reading and writing. So much so that everything I've read, if you take out the Jules Verne and Nic Carter that I read in my childhood, consists of works like the stories Tutiname, 1001 Nights, Ebu Ali Sina, along with a few history books where I skipped across the Arabic and Persian words. In later times, just as I would glance from time to time at the children's school books while at home, unemployed before the founding of our institute, I sometimes also read the small tiny serialized clippings and articles when I had to read the paper front to back in the coffeehouses of Edinerkapi or Sehzadebasi where I'd spend my whole day.
Was talking with friends last night about Orhan Pamuk –– one of whom has recently published this lovely appreciation of Pamuk as Istanbul's "memorialist-in-chief"–– and the topic of Tanpınar came up. I've written about his Beş Şehir before, but was seized with a sudden desire to open something new. And if Five Cities is a very personal walk through Turkey in the 1940s, the Institute of Watch-Setting already seems a very different book, written at the opening of the 1960s, a Prime Minister about to be hung, Turkey's economy about to transform, the city which he was already lamenting about to be reshaped almost beyond recognition by the first Bosphorus Bridge.


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