Research Article - (2022) Volume 15, Issue 92

Betul Ensari*
*Correspondence: Betul Ensari, Turkey, Email:

Received: Jun 04, 2022, Manuscript No. jisr-22-77718; Editor assigned: Jun 08, 2022, Pre QC No. jisr-22-77718 (PQ); Reviewed: Jun 29, 2022, QC No. jisr-22-77718; Revised: Sep 15, 2022, Manuscript No. jisr-22-77718 (R); Published: Sep 24, 2022, DOI: 10.17719/jisr.2022.77718


There have been some studies reading British classic detective fiction and American hard-boiled detective novels as trauma narratives. Nevertheless, to my knowledge, any studies exploring early Turkish detective fiction within the framework of trauma studies have not been done yet. This article aims to demonstrate that early Turkish detective novels particularly the detective series of Amanvermez Avni reveal the anxiety and shock of the Turkish nation in the face of modernization and industrialization as well as upcoming social upheavals and wars in the nineteenth century. By comparing the detective heroes and the narrative of the detective novels written by Sir Artur Canon Doyle and Ebüssüreyya Sami, this study also provides a glimpse of the fact that traumatic experiences raise similar responses in the writers/survivors regardless of nation and ethnicity.


Trauma, Detective fiction, Modernization, Colonization, War, Cultural and national identity


Trauma is defined as "very frightening or distressing events [that] may result in a psychological wound or injury" causing "a difficulty in coping or functioning normally". Judith Herman indicates that trauma is not directly about the traumatic event. In fact, it is associated with the often unconscious symptoms and effects caused by the event. The survivor displays various forms of mental illness ranging from hyperarousal of the nervous system, hypervigilance, and sleep disturbances to numbing responses such as addiction, self-harm, detachment, and dissociation. Also, the victim of the traumatic event suffers from recurrent intrusive thoughts and memories of the traumatic event that interrupt the natural flow of an individual’s life. Thus, trauma is the reaction of the mind to the violence; the mind of the survivor tries to comprehend the violence by repeating and playing it out. In doing so, the survivor tries to give it meaning.

Like a trauma narrative that mimics the survivor's memory disorder and repetitive intrusions, detective fiction employs the device of repetition and fragmentation that appear at the level of language, plot, or motives. It becomes a fruitful and safe site for both detective writers and readers to experience traumatic events, resolve the sense of shock and overcome the memory of fear and horror in a fictional world. In this vein, this paper suggests that both Sir Artur Canon Doyle and Ebüssüreyya Sami used detective fiction as a means of reflecting on their traumatic experiences resulting from modernization, colonization, the wars, and violence they witnessed.


In Crime and Empire: Clues to Modernity and Postmodernity John Tompson underlines the role of the constructive and destructive power of modernity that led to the emergence of detective fiction in the late nineteenth century. He bases his arguments on Berman, who states that "[m]odern environments and experiences cut across all boundaries of geography and ethnicity, of class and nationality, of religion and ideology." Despite this uniting characteristic of modernity, as Marshall Berman claims, it is also paradoxically disuniting because "it pours us all into a maelstrom of perpetual disintegration and renewal, of struggle and contradiction, of ambiguity and anguish." As both Berman and Thompson imply, the social, cultural, and economic changes that emerged with modernity played a crucial role in the birth of detective fiction because the new genre supplied both many writers and readers with a safe narrative space where they could reflect their fears and anxieties that many individuals were tackling within imperial societies. Regarding the therapeutic impact of crime fiction, Marla Harris states that even though crime fiction "has the ability to (re)produce terror in its readers, it can also provide those readers with coping strategies." Similarly, concerning the potential of crime fiction to (re)traumatize the reader, Rose Lucas indicates that "as readers, we can trust in the extremes of exposure to trauma and anxiety because we know they will carry us safely through resolution." What are these strategies? How do detective fiction writers manage to carry their readers safely through the resolution?

As an answer to the question, Stephan Knight suggests that the detective figure is invented to provide the reader with "psychic protection" in a world where the sense of security has vanished as a result of increasing crime rates in industrialized cities. In parallel with Knight`s view, Thompson claims that in an attempt to deal with social, cultural, and economic changes in the USA, Edgar Allan Poe created his famous detective character, Auguste Dupin, who appeared first in The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Thompson states that Dupin evokes the idea of the superiority of an aristocratic mind "deeply rooted in the pastoral ideal of the antebellum South". As a man of intelligence and wit, Dupin is represented as a superior figure over both the criminal and the police who have "ordinary intelligence" useful for "ordinary occasions". Basing the structure of his detective stories on the relationship between knowledge and power, Poe implies that detection requires a class-based intelligence that obtains knowledge through observation with intuition and deductive forms of reasoning. Thus, Poe's inspiring detective Dupin evokes the feeling that he can ease the concerns of the Anglo-American culture over subduing and controlling the universe through reason.

Likewise, in Victorian England, the rise of the middle class, urbanization, guilty consciousness of colonial history, and legislative and economic freedom of women shattered all social, cultural, and economic order. Upper-class people felt threatened by the rise of the middle class whereas the middle class felt unsafe by any struggle against the new capitalist system that empowered them politically and economically. On the other hand, new laws that granted women more social and economic rights posed a danger to the Anglo-Saxon paternal culture. Under such conditions, it is not surprising that Arthur Canon Doyle's superhero, Sherlock Holmes, has become a myth. As underlined before, some critics suggest that the aim of detective fiction is to relieve existing anxieties in Victorian society through the creation of superhuman detectives that solve cases through "analytic reasoning". After having analyzed some of the detective novels written by Conan Doyle, Stephan Knight claims that the superhero male detective portrayed in classic detective fiction "assuage[s] the anxieties of a respectable, London-based, middle-class audience." According to Knight, The captivated readers had faith in modern systems of scientific and rational enquiry to order an uncertain and troubling world, but feeling they lacked these powers themselves they, like many audiences before them, needed a suitably equipped hero to mediate psychic protection 9.

The new genre also reflects the fact that old conventions grounded on theological implications are replaced by "scientific bohemia". A detective endowed with scientific knowledge and acting like God fulfills the role of religion and restores order by saving victims and punishing criminals. In doing so, the detective highlights the idea that there is no mystery or crime left uncovered as long as logical reasoning is applied.


Doyle's detective stories exemplify how crime fiction can function as a trauma narrative and provides the reader with a feeling of relief and control. When looked closely, it will be observed that Doyle`s stories of crime revolve around similar plots and express similar anxieties. Most of the stories are told in a fragmented narrative full of textual gaps, interruptions, and disjunction. What is expected from the detective in a crime story is to make sense of fragmented and disunited clues. In doing so, the detective, as the trauma survivor does, moves back slowly from effect to cause. The crime committed in the past is solved and the criminal is brought to justice. Order is restored at the end of crime novels, which is symbolically represented by either a marriage or the birth of a child. This is why Porter claims that crime fiction is "a genre committed to an act of recovery."

Taking Doyle's personal experience of modernism, imperialism, and colonial wars into consideration, I will examine his choice of topics and the portrayal of Holmes and Watson in order to clarify the correlation between social trauma and detective fiction. In "Sherlock Holmes and the Problems of War: Traumatic Detections" Catherine Wynne points out the relationship between the traumatic war experiences of Arthur Conan Doyle and the stories of Sherlock Holmes. Wynne claims that serving as a doctor during the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa, where Doyle witnessed terrible sights and conditions, had affected him more profoundly than he might have realized. The deep impact of the conflict between the British Empire and the British colonies can be detected in his choice of topics and characters. Wynne highlights that some of Doyle's works such as The Hound of the Baskervilles and "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier" manifest his war experiences about the responses of the soldiers who experienced anxiety and fear during the conflict. In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Charles Baskerville is represented as a person who returns from South Africa to Baskerville Hall after having earned a large amount of money. He wants to restore the family estate with a colonial fortune. However, he loses his sense of reason and suffers from the fear of a giant dog after receiving the letter that tells the legend about his ancestor, Hugo Baskerville, known for his cruelty and immorality. Hugo was killed by a hound while chasing a maid. According to the letter, the family members have been cursed; therefore, the writer of the letter forbids the family members from going to the moor at night. One day, Charles is found dead on the moor. His facial expression evokes the idea that he was confronted by the hound and died due to "cardiac exhaustion". The hound does not attack him; however, the sight of the hound is enough to kill him. Doctor Mortimer asks for Sherlock's help in order to protect Henry, the new heir to the estate, who comes from America. Sherlock Holmes uses Henry as bait to make the hound appear. Similarly, Henry Baskerville is severely traumatized after encountering the hound.

There is a parallel between the hound and the war: the fear that the hound has struck into the hearts of the Baskervilles creates the same effect that the war has on the soldiers. Additionally, the hound can be interpreted as a symbol of the colonial past that harms the minds of the colonizers after their return from the colonial land. Returning home is a theme that recurs in the stories of Sherlock Holmes, which indicates traumatic colonial history that disturbs Doyle and Victorian society. The narratives of return can be associated with foreign threats and dangers that home-coming colonizers might bring with them such as diseases, poisons, or exotic animals.

Similarly, "The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier" revolves around the mystery of a missing soldier named Godfrey, who was injured by an elephant bullet during the conflict in South Africa. Upon his return home, he shows symptoms of leprosy. His family decides to hide him. He is forbidden to be visited even by his close friend. The tragedy that Godfrey has experienced foreshadows the tragedy that many soldiers have experienced after their return from the First World War. Due to the combat stress disorder, as Judith Herman underlines in Trauma and Recovery, many veterans were blamed for being a coward and isolated from their societies. Similarly, Godfrey is prevented from meeting his friends because of the wound on his body. After the medical inquiry suggested by Sherlock who has experience in the matter, it becomes clear that the wound is actually ichthyosis. Like the hound that haunts the Baskerville family, here the wound received after the return from the Boer War demonstrates the devastating impacts of war on both Godfrey and his family. After having analyzed Doyle's detective stories in the frame of the trauma narrative, Catherine Wynne comes to the conclusion that most of Doyle's stories demonstrate the fact that even though the physical wounds of colonial violence disappear, psychological wounds remain.


Detective fiction first entered Turkish literature through translations from French and English detective novels in the late nineteenth century. Even though Ahmet Mithat's Esrâr-ı Cinâyât is widely known as the first detective novel, this does not mean that crime narrative did not exist in pre-Islamic and classical Ottoman-Turkish literature. Erol Üyepazarcı underlines that contemporary Turkish crime literature dates back to The Book of Dede Korkut and One Thousand and One Night. Unfortunately, there are few studies done about crime narrative and its subgenre detective fiction in classical Ottoman-Turkish literature. According to Seval Şahin, the main reason behind this is, similar to the perception of detective fiction in the West as low literature, detective novels in Turkey were believed to be produced with the aim of entertaining the reader and earning money. As a result of this perception, they have been undervalued as literary works. However, the increasing popularity of detective fiction since the1990s has encouraged many researchers to examine the development of Turkish detective fiction throughout history in terms of form and structure.

One of the important articles that enlighten the reader about the roots of Turkish detective fiction is Nilüfer Tanç's article about Hayrâbâd written in the seventeenth century by Nabi in the form of mesnevi . The article sheds light on the link between Ottoman-Turkish crime narrative and postmodern Turkish detective novels. In "XVII. Yüzyılda Polisiye Romanın İzleri: Nâbî’nin Hayrâbâd’ı" Tanç asserts that Hayrâbâd represents an early example of the detective novel by creating a fictional world that raises a feeling of suspense, excitement, and justice. In doing so, it fulfills the function of detective fiction that aims to entertain the reader.

According to her, the thief-hero Çalak in Hayrâbâd, who functions as both a detective and criminal, foreshadows Turkish thief-hero Cingöz Recai.

Additionally, Erol Üyepazacı's groundbreaking two-volume encyclopedia, Korkmayınız Mr. Sherlock Holmes (Fear not, Mr. Sherlock Holmes) explores the first examples of Ottoman-Turkish detective novel. His work gives insights into the evolvement of early Ottoman-Turkish detective fiction. Another important study concerning the development of Turkish detective fiction is a TÜBİTAK PROJECT titled as "Türkiye' de Polisiye Romanrn Tarihsel Gelişimi (1884-1928)" run by Seval Şahin, Banu Öztürk, Didem Ardalı Büyükkarman. Moreover, in Cinai Meseleler (Criminal Issues) Seval Şahin examines the Turkish detective novels from 1884 to 1928. She contributes to the studies on the development of Turkish detective fiction by focusing on the impact of nationalist ideology on the form of the Turkish detective novel, and the representations of the criminal and the detective hero in these novels.

With the declaration of the Tanzimat Reforms that aimed at modernizing the Ottoman Empire in many aspects, new literary models such as newspapers, plays, and novels emerged in Turkish literature. Telemak, the first novel published in Turkish in 1862, was a translation of François Fénelon’s Les Aventures de Télémaque. Nearly two decades later in 1881 the first detective novel introduced to the Turkish reader was Ponson du Terrail’s Les Drames de Paris (1857), translated by Ahmet Münif. Following it, Ahmet Mithat Efendi translated Émile Gaboriau's Le Crime d'Orcival (1867). Erol Üyepazarcı acknowledges that during the reign of Abdülhamid II 54 detective novels were translated into Turkish until 1902. Due to the worsening political atmosphere and the heavy censorship, the translations of Western literature, detective fiction was not an exception, came to a halt between 1903 and 1908. With the proclamation of the Second Constitution, a relatively liberated atmosphere was created for translating and publishing activities. From this date on, the founding fathers of American and English detective novels such as Edgar Allen Poe and Sir Arthur Canon Doyle began to be translated. After the foundation of the Turkish Republic western detective novels continued to be translated. In 1928 the Latin-based modern Turkish alphabet replaced the Ottoman-Turkish alphabet and since then detective novels have been being published in the modern Turkish alphabet.

In addition to translations, Turkish writers such as Ahmet Mithat and Ebüssüreyya Sami also produced detective novels. What is remarkable is that in comparison to their Western counterparts, Turkish intellectuals embraced the detective genre more quickly even though it was a very new genre to them. According to Üyepazarcı, the reasons behind the interest of the Turkish writer and reader in detective fiction are the establishment of an organized police force in the 1840s, the growth of major cities into a cosmopolitan structure, and the development of detective fiction as a new genre. Apart from these social factors, the reason why Tanzimat writers wrote detective novels is, as Zeynep Tufekcioglu claims, that these writers had a political agenda: they used detective novels, which have potentially a moral lesson, as a means of educating society. Thereby they wanted to fill the gap between the East and the West in terms of modernism. Additionally, Seval Şahin draws attention to the function of detective figures in the construction of Turkish national identity from the decline of the Ottoman Empire to the early years of the Turkish Republic. Agreeing with all of them, it is necessary to highlight the role of the traumatic experiences in the rise of detective fiction as a new genre; such as the cultural dilemma due to the modernization and westernization process, uprisings of the minorities living in the empire, and the Balkan wars and violence that the Turkish people were exposed to from 1912 to 1913.


I had everything ready to implement this study, but I faced some sort of limitations while collecting research data. First, after the school came to its normal situation, some students still did not participate in face-to-face lessons. They believed that people could be affected easily while commuting from home to school because buses are crowded. Secondly, it is expected to collect the written essays in one or two working days, but it took several days or even a week to collect the data. Third, very few research articles were published on the advantages and disadvantages of online learning, especially in middle-eastern countries; therefore, it might be another shortage.

As discussed earlier, detective fiction emerged in the West as a need to express social anxieties and financial instabilities that threatened the middle and upper class in the middle of the nineteenth century due to the industrial revolution and technological improvements as well as wars. Likewise, when examined closely, it will become clear that the introduction of detective fiction to Turkish people through the translations of the detective novels by Ponson du Terrail (1829-1871) and Émile Gaboriau (1833-1873) coincides with the time when the Ottoman Empire faced social, financial and military problems: In 1875 the Ottoman government formally declared bankruptcy. Consequently, the Ottoman Public Debt Administration (OPDA) was formally founded in December 1881, which indicates that the empire lost its economic independence. It is also the time that ethnic minorities wanted to separate from the Ottoman Empire. In the hope of preventing European nations from intervening in the internal affairs of the empire and satisfying minorities living in the empire, the Tanzimat Reforms were declared. Due to the reforms aiming to westernize and modernize the Turkish-Ottoman society many changes in social, cultural, and economic areas took place, which created anxieties in the society at the time.

One of the main anxieties that can be traced in the early Ottoman-Turkish detective novels results from non-Muslim minorities who earned political and economic power over the Turkish community by becoming wealthier. Seval Şahin asserts that the minorities in Ottoman-Turkish detective novels produced after the second constitution are generally described as criminals who joined Armenian or Greek gangs fighting against Turkish people or who financially supported them.

Another anxiety reflected in early Turkish detective fiction is losing cultural and national identity as a result of modernization and westernization. Due to the lack of political and intellectual leaders who could assist them to integrate modernization into Islamic-Turkish culture, the writers of the Tanzimat period had to find their own way into the changing world shaped by modernism and westernization. As a result, they wanted to break with traditional Ottoman-Turkish literature in order to catch up with Western modernization. By abandoning the traditional style, they rebelled against their cultural fathers. For this reason, Jale Parla describes the first Turkish novelists as “fatherless boys" who had to shoulder the role of the father at a young age. In this vein, Turkish detective fiction written in this fatherless cultural climate is display the fears and anxieties of early Turkish writers who faced the threat of losing their Islamic-Turkish identities while adopting dominant Western cultural norms and literary forms.

The final anxiety, which can be also traced in the detective novels of Sherlock Holmes, is the loss of imperial power and land. The defeat of the Balkan wars (1912-13) caused a traumatic impact on the Turkish community, who used to see the Balkans as their home and felt threatened as a result. In "From Canonical Territories to National Watan: The Balkan Wars and the Emergence of Turkish Nationalism" Yahya Kemal Taştan states that "[l]oss of Balkans, accepted as the presence reason of Ottoman Empire, systematic carnage of Muslim Turkish population, emigration and assimilation policies, had created a “wounded conscious”. Similarly, in "The Traumatic Legacy of the Balkan Wars for Turkish Intellectuals", Funda Selcuk Şirin acknowledges us that the defeat shocked all the intellectuals and the general public stating that "[t]he loss of Edirne (which had been an Ottoman city for centuries) to the Bulgarians, who were described as “a handful of bandits/pillagers who had been under the control of the empire until yesterday,” caused widespread grief." By quoting Yahya Kemal's verses “Üsküp ki Şar Dağı’nda devamıydı Bursa’nın” (Skopje, which was an extension of Bursa on the outskirts of Shar Dagh [Šar Mountains]), Şirin demonstrates the connection between the Balkans and Anatolia and the trauma caused by the defeat in the Balkan wars. According to Taştan and Şirin, the loss of the Balkan wars shook the self-confidence of the Ottoman people and shattered the concept of homeland as well as national identity. To demonstrate the mental state of the young generation at the time, Şirin quotes Yakup Kadir Karaosmanoğlu who shares his memories about the Balkan wars and the national struggle against the occupational forces in Atatürk published in 1934.

Our formative years passed with a growing sense of longing for a national hero. We — by this I mean those who are in their fifties or above — were born in a world where defeat was the norm. Our fathers and mothers used to tell us hesitantly about the Moscow campaigns, the Rumelia riots, the Arab rebellions, and the later interventions by the foreign powers. Our lullabies had consisted of sad folksongs on our lost territories, about those who never made it back home, and about the fiancées with teary eyes;

Many intellectuals such as Halide Edip Adıvar, Ömer Seyfettin, and Nazım Hikmet expressed their grief about the loss of the Balkans in their works with the aim of healing the wounded national psyche. In comparison to their literary works, Zafer Toprak claims that Ebussüreyya Sami's detective stories were much more effective because they provided Turkish-Ottoman readers with space where they felt as powerful as in the old days. Toprak asserts that "[t]he rayas of the Ottomans was in pursuit of immersive stories containing sections from their own daily life. […]Tripolitanian War and Balkan Wars ended with defeat. At least they were on a quest for compensating for such defeats in the dream world."

In short, considering the wars, the social upheavals, an increasing rate of anxiety due to modernization, westernization, and economic crisis at the time I mentioned above, it does not come as a surprise that Sultan Abdülhamid II became very interested in detective fiction and asked them to be translated into the Turkish language. The members of his government were also fans of detective fiction. Hüseyin Cahit Yalçın, a journalist and Unionist statesman, recounts the demand for crime novels in his memoir, Edebi Hatıralar, as follows; “On Thursdays lots of buyers would gather around there [a street corner in Beyazit]. I was one of the most addicted readers to those… All were novels that dealt with a crime by writers such as Xavier de Montepin and Emile Gaboriau.” Apparently, Ebussüreyya Sami was motivated by a large group of fans of detective fiction. Similar to Doyle who expressed his fear against colonial enemies and his anxiety about losing the imperial power of Britain overseas, Sami used the genre as an imaginative space where they could express his fears against minorities and draw attention to threats to social order and economic stability.


As mentioned earlier, Arthur Canon Doyle employed detective fiction to fulfill the need of the Western reader for a secure and stable environment by offering them a fictional world, where a super-hero detective fixes problems resulting from the wars and restores social order by bringing criminals to justice. Likewise, Ebussüreyya Sami wrote detective novels to uncover political, juristic, and social problems that Ottoman-Turkish society dealt with during the dissolution of the empire. Different from the traditions of British detective fiction, Sami invents a Turkish police officer, who fights against criminals that pose a threat to Ottoman-Turkish society. Thereby he reassures the reader that the Turkish nation will overcome the hardships by giving their readers some consolation at the end of the story.

Applying literary trauma theory, I will examine in what ways they contributed to the achievement of mental wellbeing in Ottoman-Turkish society. For this, as Dennis Potter suggests, it is useful to detect the repeated formula that grafts contemporary fears and "the persistence of touchstones for both heroic and villainous behaviour." Following his suggestion, I will also compare the ways Sami describes the villains and hero-detectives in their detective stories with the ones in Doyle`s novels.

Ebussüreyya Sami published Türkler'in Şarlok Holmes'i Aman Vermez Avni (Aman Vermez Avni, the Turkish Sherlock Holmes,) a series of ten detective stories between 1913-14. Üyepazarcı, who translated Sami’s detective stories into the contemporary Turkish language, underlines the importance of Sami's work stating that his detective stories serve as a means of historical documentary demonstrating the structure of the police force, the understanding of journalism, the concept of crime. Relying on Üyepazarcı's point of view, I want to focus on the dichotomy between the criminal and the detective represented in Sami's novels because, as is well known, the criminal symbolizes the threat that upsets social stability and causes traumatic events. On the other hand, the representation of the detective hero exemplifies the traumatic wounds to be cured with the aid of the detective figure. At the beginning of Türkler'in Sherlock Holmes'ü Amanvermez Avni, Sami explains why he has created Amanvermez Avni, his detective figure, as follows:

As I saw how curiously the stories of extraordinarily intelligent people such as Sherlock Holmes and Nat Pinkerton who were told that they did great jobs for the police force were read in the West, I counted it a civil and national responsibility to publish the documents that were hidden and correct, which would prove that the Eastern countries were not devoid of such intelligence.

He adds that even if American Pinkerton and Parisian Lecoq have all scientific and technological facilities, Amanvermez Avni can win the heart of the audience as a Turkish detective with a special cleverness of the Eastern countries. Sami does not explain what he means by "the cleverness of the Eastern countries." However, I assume that considering the dichotomy created between the West and the East by the Orientalist discourse that associates the West with rationality and the East with emotion and intuition, Sami might have referred to the wisdom of the Eastern intuitive mind, which is derived from revelation. As Parla underlines, most of the Tanzimat writers believed the idea that Islamic-Ottoman epistemology was superior to the Western epistemology despite the loss of the wars and economic, social, and cultural crises. The question that is worth discussing is why Sami wanted to invent a detective hero as clever as Sherlock Holmes. If we look at the relationship between Sherlock and Dupin, we see that Sherlock regards himself better than Dupin. As well known, Sherlock was built inspired by Poe's Dupin character. However, Doyle makes Sherlock say "Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. [...]He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to imagine." On the other hand, Avni is not described as cleverer than Sherlock. Why?

To answer this question, it is necessary to mention that in Western countries such as France, England, and America detective figures are created mostly to empower the image of their country due to the rise of nationalist ideology at the time. It seems that in the hope of competing with the other western countries that are technologically and scientifically more developed than the Ottoman Empire, Sami creates Amanvermez Avni taking Sherlock Holmes as an example. Nevertheless, while creating his detective hero, Sami describes Avni as a Turkish detective whose reputation does not extend beyond the borders of the country rather than depicting him as a worldwide known detective like Sherlock Holmes. The reason behind this, as Ayşe Balcı explains, is to increase the credibility of the detective figure. As displayed, Sami's Amanvermez Avni lives in a rapidly collapsing empire whereas Sherlock Holmes comes from the world's most industrialized and powerful empire.

According to Balcı, the perception of his detective hero as inferior to Holmes mirrors Sami's traumatized self. Behind this traumatized self-image lies cultural and economic reasons as underlined before. On one hand, Sami believes in the cleverness of Eastern countries, on the other hand, he is aware that Eastern countries have lacked what the West has: scientific and technological advancement. The feeling of lack must have triggered a feeling of fear and insecurity in Sami, and consequently, he decided to prove that the Eastern cleverness was as efficient as Sherlock's.

Inspired mostly by Doyle's detective Sherlock Holmes, Ebussüreyya Sami creates the series of Türkler'in Sharlok Holmes'i Amanvermez Avni. However, when examined closely, Amanvermez Avni is different from Sherlock Holmes. This can be explained by the different traumatic experiences the writers went through. As explained above, Doyle serves the empire in the colonial lands as a doctor. Based on his traumatic background in the colonial lands he creates Watson, a veteran doctor, as a narrator. On the other hand, to defeat the national fear of being attacked by the colonized lands, Doyle invents Sherlock Holmes, a detective with remarkable powers of deduction. The portrayal of Sherlock Holmes as a person with some eccentric traits reflects the guilty consciousness of the British empire: Holmes becomes very energetic while solving a case, however, during ordinary days he becomes melancholic, uses drugs, and plays the violin. These activities are regarded as a means of escapism and also as a sign of depression and trauma.

Differently from Doyle, Ebussüreyya Sami is a journalist in the post-Balkan war empire. Like many Turkish people living in Istanbul at the time, he must have witnessed the violence that the Turkish refugees were exposed to by the Greek army because they sought shelter in Istanbul after being persecuted in the Balkans. As a journalist, he must have heard the news about "girls were raped, and children were choked to death." This explains why Amanvermez Avni is always in action. In contrast to Holmes, Avni does not have any spare time because he has to catch bandits and criminals that destroy social order, which reflects the anger and revenge against the bandits destroying the national harmony in the empire. His struggle against the bandits in a fictional world offers some comfort to the Turkish reader who feels threatened and ensures them that they have guardians to protect the Turkish nation. In contrast to Doyle who represents Holmes as a detective with great powers of deduction, Sami highlights Avni's diligence and honesty. As Balcı underlines, through the representation of Avni, Sami conveys the idea that the Turkish nation will overcome all hardships if they work hard and be honest. Erol Üyepazarcı states that Amanvermez Avni was a famous fictional character whose impact continued until the 1940s.

Despite the idea that Avni defeats the bandits and succeeds in protecting the Turkish community, he is obviously as traumatized as Sherlock and Watson. As a police inspector, Avni is usually trapped by his enemies, and in most of the stories, he has a close brush with death, which foreshadows American hardboiled detectives such as Marlowe. Thus, he is exposed to trauma firsthand, leaving aside being a witness to the victims' death.

Since the tradition of detective fiction focuses on crime and the process of solving the crime, Sami avoids giving any specific details about Avni's character and his psychological state. However, the reader catches some glimpse of the extension of his traumatization throughout his reactions in the face of danger.

When he is caught in a life-threatening situation he uses humour. Regarding the link between humours as a coping strategy with trauma, Carmen Moran, psychologist, and professor of social work, highlights the place and crucial importance of humour in preventing compassion fatigue. She explains the role of humor in extreme environments, particularly those involving emergency rescue workers and people related to helping professions. İskeletler Arasında (Among the Skeletons) is one of the detective stories that exemplify the way Avni applies humour to cope with his fear. When he sees the bones of dead people lying on the floor, he pays a compliment to the killer: "What a perfect art! Is it in great demand?" In saying so, Avni aims to lower the stress. Similarly, in Boyacı (The Painter), Avni and Anderya, his assistant, are locked in the cellar. Since the building has been set on fire, they have enough air for one or two hours. While Avni is trying to find a way to open the iron door, he says: "After this door is broken, we pass by if we encounter fire. If we roast a little, it doesn't matter, after that, they call us brazen faced" Concerning the use of humour to handle traumatic events, Sarah W. Craun and Michael L. Bourke claim that there is a great difference between lighthearted humour and gallows humour. According to their study, "the use of gallows humor is a warning sign that one is not coping well with STS"

Sami becomes a witness to the traumatic events that Ottoman-Turkish society has been through nationally, socially, economically, and culturally. This plays a great role in inventing Amanvermez Avni as a clever Turkish polis officer with a sense of humor. However, the detective stories in which Avni finds himself revolve around life-threatening situations. In this sense, the form and the content of the stories represent the fact that the Turkish community's perception of home as a safe place was deeply shaken. The black humour he uses in these fatal situations brings the reader laughter; nevertheless, it essentially conveys his traumatized psyche.

The last point I want to draw attention to is that most of Avni`s stories take place in Galata or Beyoglu, where minorities live. Avni chases criminals that offend the security and safety of the minorities in the stories such as 'The Burned Body", "The Death of Kamelya", and "The Painter". In these stories, the criminals are either Greek or Jewish and they are after the inheritance of their relatives. I suggest that by creating such stories and employing Avni for arresting the criminals and restoring order, Sami aims at convincing the minorities that want to break up from the empire to stay with them by assuring them a safe home. Interestingly enough, in "The Painter" Avni catches a female criminal called Anderya, who is Greek. She works for Ligor, a criminal who Avni has been after for a long time. Ligor has been planning a burglary with Anderya. Avni convinces her to work with him. Anderya accepts Avni`s offer and begins to assist him. Different from Sherlock Holmes` stories, Avni has both Turkish and Greek assistants. It seems that Sami, seeing the dissolution of the empire, aims at giving the idea that Turks and other ethnic groups within the empire should work together in creating a safe home to avoid economic and social crises. Amanvermez Avni is the last detective hero of Ottoman-Turkish literature that offers a feeling of comfort to the reader until the First World War.


This study displayed the close relationship between detective fiction and trauma by examining the representations of the detective heroes and narratives in the works of Doyle and Sami. Both Doyle and Sami applied detective fiction to ease the traumatizing impacts of the wars and violence on the psyche of British and Turkish nations by creating the detective heroes namely Sherlock Holmes and Amanvermez Avni. Although these detective heroes deal with the anxieties stemming from modernization and the wars in a fictional world, Holmes and Avni develop different strategies to respond to the traumatic events to which they were exposed. It is explained that the reason behind these differences is related to national, geographical, and cultural history. Whereas Holmes is equipped with rationality and technological knowledge to handle the colonial past, Avni uses his intuition and humor to beat his enemies that are generally minorities living in the empire. In contrast to Holmes, a manifestation of the British Empire that has economic, militaristic, and cultural power, Avni is a representative of a nation that has been in a struggle of holding all the minorities under the empire that has been decaying. That is why Avni is kidnapped and comes close to death. However, he manages to survive. Besides, Avni relies on his intuition more than rationality, which reflects the cultural dilemma between the West and East concerning the question of how reality is detected. The traumatic experiences that Holmes and Avni undergo in the fictional world reflect their societies. Through the detective stories, both Doyle and Sami offer their readers a space where they can face their traumas and they also help them overcome their traumatic experiences by offering them a resolution where social order is replaced and criminals are punished.


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