Pera Palace Hotel, the precious work of architect Alexander Vallury, has a story that will be the subject of movies. Built to host Orient Express passengers, this unique structure also draws attention to the famous names it has hosted over the years. Many famous people passed by this more than a century-old monument, which has become the living cultural ambassador of Istanbul. In addition to foreign guests such as Agatha Christie, Alfred Hitchcock, and Greta Garbo, Pera Palace also hosted important names from the Turkish literary and intellectual world. Known for his journalistic personality, the academic and politician Falih Rıfkı Atay is one of these names. If you wish, let’s get to know this versatile intellectual who has closely witnessed the Republic’s history.
Born in Istanbul in 1894, Falih Rıfkı Atay received his high school education at Mercan High School, known today as Ankara University Faculty of Political Sciences. He completed his university education at the Faculty of Letters of Istanbul University, formerly known as the Faculty of Letters of Darülfünun. Atay, who wrote articles in various newspapers and magazines, started to work in Tanin newspaper for the first time as a journalist. This experience, which he gained at a young age, caused him to be interested in politics. Atay’s friendship with Ziya Gökalp begins precisely during this period.
With the start of the First World War, young Falih Rıfkı finds himself in the army. While a private clerk at the Canal Front in 1914-1917, he opened new schools in the region with Halide Edip Adıvar. Atay, who closely observed the changing political climate, returned to Istanbul in 1917 and published the newspaper Akşam. He was sent to the Court of War because of his articles supporting the War of Independence in this newspaper. With the victory of İnönü at the end of the protracted trial, Atay returns to his newspaper. Falih Rıfkı continues to support Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and Kuva-yi Milliye (Irregular National Forces).
Seeing the victories achieved in Anatolia as the light of total independence, Atay informs the public with great enthusiasm. After the liberation of Izmir, which he interpreted as the realization of a dream, he moves to the city to meet Mustafa Kemal Pasha. Thus, the foundations of the eternal friendship that started with Mustafa Kemal were laid in İzmir. Falih Rıfkı Atay adds companionship to all of his adjectives. During the period until the proclamation of the Republic, Atay follows the National Struggle step by step in the footsteps of the Commander-in-Chief. In addition, as a literary man, Atay brings the genre of travel memories to the history of Turkish literature with the works he wrote in this period.
Atay participates in the parliamentary elections held following the proclamation of the Republic at the request of Mustafa Kemal. Atay, who was elected as a deputy in the second term elections of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, became Ankara’s rising voice despite Istanbul’s opposition press. He continues his duty as a deputy for 27 years without interruption. Atay, who is an invincible defender of the revolutions in the nation-state building initiated under the leadership of Atatürk, actively participates in the process. Falih Rıfkı, a member of the Language Committee, takes an active role in creating and implementing the Turkish alphabet. Falih Rıfkı, who did not break from journalism during this time, undertakes the founding of the newspaper Dünya with Bedii Faik. Atay continued to write articles supporting the modernization of the people in Dünya newspaper, where he was the editor-in-chief until the end of his life. Known for his political anecdotes and editorials, Falih Rıfkı has become a masterful author with his unique style and pure Turkish. With his efforts to protect Atatürk’s Revolutions, Atay became a strong journalist/author, especially against the 1950 government.
Known for his devotion to Atatürk and a witness to the most critical developments in the history of the Republic, Falih Rıfkı Atay passed away in 1971. This unique author in the history of Turkish literature, which has made its mark in journalism, has passed away by leaving behind dozens of outstanding works, especially Çankaya.