REVIEW by Caroline Stockford

NWR Issue 105

The Time Regulation Institute

by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar (trans Maureen Freely & Alexander Dawe)

This Turkish novel of 1962 is much more than a highly comical portrayal of bureaucracy and modernisation. On almost every page it places the circus that supports social status under the microscope, reflecting on what is true success and how truthfully we perceive ourselves and others.

Protagonist Hayri Îrdal, a self-confessed failure and horologist, commences writing his memoirs in order to celebrate the recently deceased Halit Ayarcı (Eternal Regulator), a businessman of great charm ‘who saw both his future and his past through the prism of the present’. Ayarcı, it seems, could light up any apparently hopeless situation with the rays of his unwavering belief in the positive. Ayarcı takes a shine to Îrdal over a much-lubricated dinner at which they discuss the damage caused to the economy by the modern problem of inaccurate watches. The answer, declares Îrdal, is to regulate time precisely: to establish a Time Regulation Institute with Regulation Stations around Istanbul and a system of fines for those with especially unpunctual timepieces...

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previous review: Talking to Ourselves
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