Genç Kalemler

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A Turkish nationalist group and its journal.

Genç Kalemler was founded in 19101911 in Salonika, bringing together a group of writers and poets under the leadership of famous nationalists Ömer Sayfettin and Ziya Gökalp. Theirs was the first organized attempt at Turkish language reform, born of reaction to the ornate linguistic excesses of the Servet-i Fünun group of the 1890s. They sought to bring written Turkish closer to its spoken form, without the Arabic and Persian grammar and vocabulary of the elite of the Ottoman Empire.

The group also sought to bring realism to what they felt was artificial Ottoman literatureby producing numerous critical essays in its journal and by publishing new stories and poems. Genç Kalemler's pursuit of simple direct language also had a political aim, because it was felt that to rescue the empire, a language understandable to the common people was needed. Genç Kalemler had close ties to the Turkish nationalist Committee for Union and Progress. The journal was published until the Turkish war of independence after World War I.

See also Committee for Union and Progress; Gökalp, Ziya; Salonika; Turkish Language.


Arai, Masami. Turkish Nationalism in the Young Turk Era. Leiden, Netherlands, and New York: Brill, 1992.

Elizabeth Thompson