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1420x0x A renaissance man Metin And

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  • TRH
    Mar 3, 2007
      [Over the years TurkC-L carried bunerous articles
      by Mr. And. The following article is for those of
      you who are wondering who he is. You can see a photo
      of Dr. And at:
      http://www.tuba.gov.tr/files_eng/members/metinand.php ]

      x0x A renaissance man Metin And


      With his vast knowledge and perpetual smile,
      regular Skylife contributor Prof. Dr. Metin And is
      an incorrigible teaser who likes to turn
      everything into a game.

      Metin And has been dubbed a Renaissance man by
      dean of Turkish letters Prof. Talat Halman:
      Masters of both the arts and the sciences with
      prodigious accomplishments in a wide range of
      fields are called Renaissance men because the most
      impressive representatives of this human type are
      associated with Renaissance Italy.

      Fifty-three books, ten of them in English, some
      1500 articles, hundreds of lectures given round
      the world from America to the Far East, all in a
      life of 77 years. Over thirty years as a faculty
      member of the Department of Theater of the Ankara
      University School of Language, History and
      Geography; Cultural History classes at Bogazici
      and Bilkent Universities; guest professorships in
      America, Germany and Japan; the Scholarship Award
      of the Turkish Language Society (1970); the
      Turkiye Is Bank Award for Scholarly Research
      (1980); Officier de lordre des Arts et des Lettres
      of the French government (1985), a Knighthood
      conferred by the President of Italy (1991), the
      Service Award of the Turkish Academy of Science
      (1998) and many other honors and awards.
      Trailblazer for scholars of Turkish opera, ballet
      and theater, not to mention folklore, Karagoz
      shadow theater, and the miniature. Wine
      connoisseur who spent five months at one of
      Germanys leading champagne factories before
      introducing the production of natural champagne to
      Turkey. Dreamer who enjoys nothing more than
      solitude. Master of the art of illusion. Gourmet
      more enamored of spicy food than even the Indians.
      Loving grandpa who enjoys playing with his
      grandchildren. Jolly friend, never without a
      mischievous smile on his face. Whatever I say
      about Metin And,I'll inevitably leave something

      You graduated from Galatasaray Lycée and Istanbul
      University School of Law. You then went to London
      for post-graduate work but gave up your studies at
      the dissertation stage.

      How did you arrive at that decision?

      It was my first time to go abroad. I was fond of
      the opera and ballet. England was a very serious
      place in terms of the arts. I attended a
      performance every night. It was there that I found
      my way.

      What did you want to do?

      As far back as I can remember Ive enjoyed during
      research. When I returned to Turkey I started
      writing book reviews in Forum. Yasar Kemals Mehmed
      My Hawk had just come out and I wrote the first

      But I was a bit full of myself in those days.
      There was an American writer named Robert Penn
      Warren and I tried to compare Yasar Kemal with
      him. I came to regret it later. He touches on some
      of the same problems but actually Yasar Kemals
      strong point is his language. One day years later
      we met at a dinner. The next thing I knew he was
      bearing down on me, shouting, Metin, you made life
      very difficult for me! You compared me with that
      man! Ive read everything he wrote. Where am I like
      him? Youthful pomposity, I confessed. Based on my
      writings in Forum, I got a Rockefeller Foundation
      grant to study ballet, opera and theater in the

      Then I started writing for the daily Ulus and
      wrote theater and ballet reviews every day for 15
      years. Later I wrote for other magazines as well.
      While I as writing theater reviews, I also started
      writing books. A four-volume History of the
      Turkish Theater (Traditional, Reform and Decline,
      Constitutional, and Republican Periods). My first
      book published in the U.S. was on folk dance, then
      in my book Drama and Sorcery I turned to folk

      How did you get interested in miniatures?

      I first became acquainted with the miniature in
      middle school. My classmate Ethem Karatays father,
      Fehmi Karatay, was director of the Istanbul
      University Library. He was a very knowledgeable
      and well-read man. We used to go to the library on
      Sundays. I would head straight copy down the ones
      that interested me. Then I would to go to the
      illuminated manuscripts. My friend told his father
      about me. One day we went to see him. He give me a
      French-published catalogue of all the illuminated
      manuscripts in the library.

      Later on, in the 60s, Fehmi Bey compiled a
      catalogue of all the manuscripts in the Topkapi
      Palace Library. He sent word for me to come. When
      I went there, he had set aside a pile of books of
      miniatures for me. The most important
      manuscriptsbooks of festivals, two volumes of a
      Book of Skills. I was gradually beginning to
      realize that I loved Ottoman miniatures. I wrote a
      book about miniatures in English, which came out
      in French as well. It was a small book, so we
      expanded it into Ottoman Islamic Mythology and the
      Miniature. Later I wrote a book just about
      miniatures. I divided them into 11 groups:
      animals, men and women, Istanbul, etc. In a way I
      wrote that book for myself. Every now and then I
      take it out and look at it and it makes me happy.

      Youve worked in many different fields. Where do
      you find the energy?

      There are two secrets to it. First, when I started
      these projects I always considered the whole thing
      all at once. That way I knew I could do it. The
      British Museum is like a second home to me.

      Ive spent my happiest times in the museum reading
      room. Second, the research process is very
      enjoyable. Like detective work, like a game.

      Im a person who loves games. I treat everything as
      a game. When you do it like that, you find a lot
      of energy. When youre doing research, you suddenly
      latch onto something and then you feel great
      satisfaction. I shut down completely then and take
      a day off to enjoy the peace and quiet.

      Are you working on a new book?

      Im hard at work on a new book for Yapi Kredi
      Publications: Famous Magicians. I'll hand it in at
      the end of October. My favorite chapter is on
      women magicians. Youre going to be amazed at the
      kind of women there were. The longest chapter is
      called Fathers and Sons. Among them are six
      generations of magicians. I also devote one whole
      chapter to Zati Sungur.

      How did you get interested in magic?

      It started in elementary school. Zati Sungur had
      returned to Turkey for the first time in 20 years.
      I was nine.

      My father took me to see him. I got the bug that
      night. I came close to figuring out a couple of
      his tricks. Thats what whetted my curiosity. Later
      on I became friends with Zati Sungur.

      What about music?

      At home my father always listened to Turkish
      music, but I could never warm up to it. We also
      had a good piano at home. I started taking
      lessons. I also attended the Istanbul Municipal
      Conservatory for five years and studied piano with
      Ferdi von Statzer. Galatasaray Lycée had a
      traditional orchestra, the Izcaz Orkestra. I was
      the pianist. They thought I played well but I knew
      I didn't. Mozart is my favorite composer. My
      father bought me a record of Mozarts famous Eine
      kleine Nachtmusik. One day I had a terrible flu. I
      was alone at home so I played the Mozart
      recording. While I was listening my fever dropped
      and I suddenly felt better. The music made me
      well. Ever since that day Ive been a Mozart fan.
      Keep it in mind if youre ever ill!

      You're a person who likes to laugh and to make
      people laugh.

      As a child I was always laughing in elementary
      school. One day the teacher said, "Why are you
      grinning like a cooked sheeps head? I was
      notorious at Galatasaray. Somebody gave me a
      nickname that I will bear to the grave, "520
      Sheeps Head Metin". It got on my nerves at first,
      but later I began to like it. Laughing is a good
      thing. It keeps a person healthy.