The Evening of a Very Long Day, Bilge Karasu
Metis Fiction
13 x 19.5 cm, 144 pp
ISBN No. 975-342-229-1

1st Print: 1970
9th Print: September 2007
Bilge Karasu
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About the Author
Bilge Karasu (1930-1995) graduated from the Philosophy Department of Istanbul University and taught at Hacettepe University for many years. One of Turkey’s most respected writers, Karasu published four books of short stories, three novels and four collections of essays. His first novel Gece (Night) is the winner of the 1991 Pegasus Literature Award; Uzun Sürmüş bir Günün Akşamı (The Evening of a Very Long Day) won the 1971 Sait Faik Short Story Award, and the English translation of Karasu’s Göçmüş Kediler Bahçesi (The Garden of Departed Cats) by Aron Aji was awarded the 2004 National Translation Award in the USA.
       Usually referred to as "the sage of Turkish literature," Bilge Karasu is an influential reference point in the progress of Turkish fiction writing. A perfectionist, a philosopher, and a master of literary arts, he left behind a body of work, which, although intricately woven and at times obscure, skillfully outlines a world unmatched in its crystal clear transparency. The fact that he is labeled "the most difficult writer in the Turkish language" arises from his uncompromising loyalty to pure literature, which he described as a structure to be accomplished by a constant interaction between the writer and the reader.
Other Books from Metis
Troya'da Ölüm Vardı (Death in Troy, 1963
Göçmüş Kediler Bahçesi (The Garden of Departed Cats), 1979 (The Garden of Departed Cats), 1979
Kısmet Büfesi (The Kiosk Called Fate), 1982
Gece (Night), 1985 (Night), 1985
Kılavuz (The Guide), 1990
Ne Kitapsız Ne Kedisiz (Not Without Books Nor Without Cats), 1994
Narla İncire Gazel (Ode to the Pomegranate and the Fig), 1995
Altı Ay Bir Güz (Six Months and an Autumn), published post-mortem, 1996
Lağımlaranası ya da Beyoğlu (Beyoğlu the Mother of Sewage), published post-mortem, 1999
Öteki Metinler (Other Texts), published post-mortem, 1999
Bilge Karasu
The Evening of a Very Long Day

Uzun Sürmüş Bir Günün Akşamı

The Evening of a Very Long Day revolves around the relationship between two 8th century monks. Through these main characters, Karasu explores the nature of various dualities, including faith and dogma, new and old, custom and law, truth and lie, image and signification, individual and society, east and west, and Byzantium and Rome. With this novel, Karasu achieves a deft synthesis between European genre play and local story-telling traditions, paving the way for an authentically Turkish fiction that exploits the poetic possibilities of the language and narrative.
Selim İleri
"With fine fictional technique Bilge Karasu attends to the discord between the individual and the society, as well as the individual’s internal conflicts. In The Evening of a Very Long Day he blends historical threads with an attitude that is ‘not history’."
Mehmet H. Doğan, Bilge Karasu Aramızda
"Bilge Karasu is a man of ethics who extensively questions humane life and what it demands. He minutely examines the all too human problems, life, responsibility, sense of duty, belief, oppression, torture, defiance of oppression, submission to oppression. The Evening of a Very Long Day is a masterpiece, a classic of the Turkish literature."
A light breeze under the trees. The faint noise of the grove humming lightly in the breeze. Pine scent. Yet unlike that of a few trees scattered around a garden. It is the sharp, overpowering redolence of pines stretching farther than his gaze can contain, covering all the space that is not the sea. Unable to withstand it, he lowers his body, leans his back against a tree. The breeze is not cool but hot, fragrant. Yet he does feel a certain coolness on his skin. Never forget the sea, he says to himself. He hears his voice—faint, reluctant. He needs to get used to hearing it. Even alone, he needs to get used to being heard. He needs to remember, revive, everything that the monastery called him to forget. Even if he has to live like those monks who endured the pious ordeal of solitude on this island, three hundred, four hundred years ago. Yet, their faith never wavered, whether they lived on the hilltop, in the wilderness or the desert. At least that's what people believed.
       Was it so in truth? Or did the belief alone satisfy the ones who chose to stay behind in the villages or in the city, those whose lives depended on the company of others because they couldn't be weaned from the sedative of multitudes? No one knew. In the monastery, some of the hermits were transformed into legends. The power of their faith was believed to have conquered mountains, fierce beasts, the devil... Yet, there ought to have been among them more than a few who, bewildered by loneliness, mistook dreams for reality and eagerly accepted their own voice, their own shadow as signs of other, immaterial beings. How else could one explain the countless fairy-tales and legends about the monks who kept encountering the devil, battling him on mountain peaks, in the middle of deserts?
       Why were people worried about the devil who was never seen in crowded cities where no one could walk without stepping on another's foot?
       Andronikos thinks it is not time to pursue such questions. First he needs to survey the area, inspect, get to know his environs...
       All of a sudden, it occurs to him that what the mathematicians call zero is utterly—and unexpectedly—different from all the terms he has invoked until now when thinking of nothingness. God alone was able to transform chaos into order. But humans have had to go surmount zero, by one, by two, and so on... The forest now surrounding him is zero. His task is to arrive at one, two, three, departing from this zero... To arrange one thing after another, to construe something as far as his strength, his mind, his humanity allowed...
       A little while ago, he was able to resist thinking in terms of imperatives; he is determined to resist it now as well. He raises himself from the ground, looks up, and notices the trees becoming sparser on the hill. Closer to him, they seem densely clustered, where they protect one another. Perhaps he is wrong. Yet, more light seems to flow through the trees in the distance... He'll figure out when he reaches the top.
       He begins to climb. The sun has risen; its rays reach him through openings among the trees. Walking eastward, he estimates that noon is three hours or so away. It is neither early nor late. But if he wants to eat and perhaps rest a while, he has to climb, descend to the shore, and climb again. There is no other way.
       He tears a piece of the bread he has carried in his pocket and puts it in his mouth, but to chew it only. He would be out of breath if he ate while climbing. He must pace himself, climb neither too slowly nor too fast. He must find the rhythm, the rhythm of the climb, and match it with that of his heart, his temples, his pulse. The sin-gular, uninterrupted rhythm that God placed inside humans. Changing but uninterrupted rhythm. Interrup-tion would mean only one thing, not two.
       Yet death is useless, empty. Andronikos forgets the morsel in his mouth. Death must be avoided at all cost, unless the inner rhythm falters, unless God decides to cease what He has put in motion, in which case nothing can be done. But if a mortal hand lunges at your body to choke that rhythm, then there is only one thing to do. Grab that hand, bend that wrist with all the strength you can muster, and if need be, cut it off. No hand should have a right to another’s life. Or, Andronikos thinks, you can do one other thing: what he is doing—escaping... Because he has not enough strength to bend that wrist, because he has not enough faith to help him find the strength... Escaping... Click for more 

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