Words behind the glass
On an edifying visit to the museum of literature tucked away in the garden of the Topkapi Palace.
By Benny Ziffer
ISTANBUL - The guards at Topkapi Palace looked at me in surprise when I asked them the whereabouts of the Alay Kosku - the exhibition pavilion where, according to what I had read in the newspaper Zaman, a museum named for the Turkish writer Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar had recently opened. Eventually, it was one of the clerks in the palace museum shop who directed me to the fancy building with the rounded-pointed roof in the back of the Topkapi garden, with a steep mound leading to its entrance. Only there, after the strenuous climb, was it possible to read clearly the sign stating that this was indeed the museum designed to celebrate Turkish writers in general, and hallow the name of Tanpinar specifically, a writer who died in 1962 and whose standing in the history of Turkish literature is akin to that of Agnon's in Hebrew literature. Except that Tanpinar did not win a Nobel Prize.
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