INTERPRETATION OF AUTHOR-RELATED LITERARY TOURISM SITES: EVIDENCE FROM THREE SITES IN TURKEY
Department of Tourism and Hotel Management, Bandırma Onyedi Eylül University, Balıkesir, Turkey.
The actual places associated with authors’ lives are highly attractive in terms of literary tourists seeking authenticity, nostalgia and a connection with the author. Therefore, interpretation is a vital element in these sites. This study aims to evaluate how effective author-related houses in literary tourism and the extent to which they meet the expectations of literary tourists by examining their interpretation forms. In the study, three author-related houses in Turkey were chosen as case studies. These houses are; Necati Cumalı Memorial and Culture House located in Urla-İzmir, Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum located in Burgazada-İstanbul and Namık Kemal House located in Tekirdağ. Data were gathered through observation and interviews with the authorities of these houses. The results of the study show that different interpretation forms are used in author-related houses, and each interpretation form has different degrees of influence on issues which literary tourists seek such as authenticity, nostalgia and emotional connection with the author.
Keywords: Literary tourism, literary sites, author-related houses, interpretation, Turkey
Places associated with a famous person are an important component of the heritage sector (Smith, 2003). Especially the actual places where authors were born, lived and wrote up well-known literary works constitute essential values of touristic destinations as an element of cultural heritage. These values contribute to the tourism development of the destination if they are preserved by remaining faithful to their originality and if their sustainability is ensured. In these actual places which have an essential place in literary tourism, visitors are seeking traces of authors they admire.
Interpretation tells the story behind the scenery or history of an area and interpreters help convey a fuller appreciation and understanding of a place (Beck and Cable, 2011). There is a story of all objects in the house such as the author’s desk, typewriter, pen, books read, notes kept, manuscripts, various personal objects like hat, jacket, wallet, eyeglasses, alarm clock, etc. and various documents like identity card, passport, diploma, marriage certificate etc. Literary pilgrims want to re-listen to the real stories of these objects belonging to authors whom they know very well with an unforgettable experience. To meet these expectations of literary tourists interpretation is a vital element in literary sites.
Interpretation is the product of the interaction between the promotional aspirations of the developer and the diverse subjective reactions of the consumer (Herbert, 2001, p. 318). Literary place developers and managers decide the objects and the documents to be exhibited at the house and the decoration style of the house according to the message to be given. They adopt an interpretation approach by bringing together several interpretation techniques taking into account the characteristics of the literary tourists who constitute their target market. According to Beck and Cable (2011), interpretation is a process which visitors experienced and inspired first-hand, and in this process, interpreters have an essential role. They must be skilled communication and knowledgeable in literary place’s history and the related author. For interpretation decisions to be successful the interpretation principles to be addressed in the following sections must be taken into consideration.
This study aims to evaluate how effective three author-related houses in Turkey in literary tourism and the extent to which they meet the expectations of literary tourists by analysing their interpretation decisions with a qualitative approach. A conceptual framework on literary tourism and heritage interpretation was drawn first in the study, and afterwards, in the findings section, the data gathered by the techniques of interview and observation was analysed with descriptive analysis. Although Turkey has a potential concerning literary tourism, it is inadequate both as a type of heritage tourism and as an academic area. The number of studies focusing the relationship of tourism and literature, choosing the literary sites as a research area, discussing essential concepts in the field of literary tourism or investigating the motivations of literary tourist is deficient. Therefore, this study is important due to it will increase the awareness of Turkey’s literary tourism potential.
Literary tourism which is a significant and growing sector of the tourism industry originates when the popularity of a literary depiction or the stature of an individual author is such that people are drawn to visit the places that the author wrote about or was associated with (Busby and Klug, 2001). There are various studies classify types of literary tourism. However, the first and most widely accepted study is Butler’s (1986) study. Subsequent studies have adapted these categories of Butler or have added new categories to this classification. Butler classified literary tourism types into four groups (Butler, 1986 as cited in Busby and Klug, 2001):
1. Aspects of homage to an actual location: This classification mostly includes the actual places associated with an author. These sites are usually the house where the author was born, lived or died, the house or another place where the author wrote his works and the graveyard of the author.
2. Places of significance in the work of fiction: Tourists may be drawn to literary places that form the settings for novels. Fiction may be set in locations that authors knew, and there is a merging of the real, and the imagined that gives such places a special meaning. Fictional characters and events often generate the strongest imagery (Herbert, 2001).
3. Appeal of areas because they were appealing to literary and other figures: This category includes destinations that address literary figures. It contains the development and marketing exercises of destinations by the public and private sector regarding literary tourism.
4. The literature gains popularity in a sense that the area becomes a tourist destination in its own right: This category implies that a destination turns into a touristic destination without any effort by the popularity of an author or a literary work.
Busby and Klug (2001, p. 321) who proposed ‘travel writing’ as the fifth type of literary tourism defined travel writing as ‘a vehicle through which places and people have been reinterpreted and communicated to wider audiences’. Studies in this type of literary tourism are usually conducted through guidebooks. ‘Film-induced literary tourism’ was proposed by Busby and Laviolette (2006, p. 149) as the sixth type of literary tourism. The authors defined film-induced literary tourism as ‘tourism resulting from enhanced interest in a destination, secured through reading the literature after viewing the screenplay’. The seventh and eighth types of literary tourism were suggested in the published report by Mintel (2011). These types of Mintel suggested are ‘literary festivals’ and ‘bookshop tourism’. Mintel’s report has mentioned about literary festivals as primarily in the UK there are a vast number of yearly events in which participants can interact with the authors or other celebrities easily as well as the authors have the chance to promote their literary works. Bookshop tourism which is the eighth type of literary tourism is the visitation of tourists to local bookshops for the destination-related works such as guidebooks and maps or books are written by local authors (Hoppen, Brown, & Fyall, 2014 as cited in Mintel, 2011).
This study is included in the category of actual places related to the author which is the first type of literary tourism. These sites attract people who have an intrinsic interest in the authors’ personal life stories. The visits allow contact with places closely associated with admired authors, allows sight of, and perhaps the chance to touch, artefacts or memorabilia; the setting enhances the experiential quality of these contacts. They have connections not just with the life of the authors but also with the literary works which the authors created. There is a merging of the fact and the fiction which gives such places a special meaning (Herbert, 1996). Robinson (2002) suggested that the house of author is arguably the most powerful tourism resource with appeal across a range of markets. Authors’ houses allow tourists to engage in several emotional experiences and activities. These places are a source of intimacy, authenticity and insight into the mystery.
In literary tourism literature, there are many studies investigated the houses of authors especially associated with Europe which are open to tourism today. These authors are Dylan Thomas, Jane Austen (Herbert, 2001); John Milton (Santesso, 2004); Robert Burns (Bhandari, 2008); Mary Russell Mitford (Booth, 2008); Honoré de Balzac (Petroman, Petroman, & Brătulescu, 2008); Vladimir Nabokov, Alexander Pushkin (Wallace, 2009); Virginia Woolf (Robertson and Radford, 2009); Lord Byron (Busby and Shetliffe, 2013); Anne Frank (Busby and Devereux, 2015; Hartmann, 2013) and Gabriele D’Annunzio (Gentile and Brown, 2015).
There are some essential concepts for actual places related to authors in literary tourism. These are interpretation forms, authenticity, nostalgia, commodification, literary awareness and emotional connection with the author. Although these concepts are related to each other, it would not be wrong to say that in search of authenticity comes first in actual literary places associated with authors. MacCannell (1973) first introduced the relevance of authenticity to tourism. According to MacCannell, tourists are driven by the need for experiences more profound than those associated with the ‘shallowness of their lives’ (MacCannell, 1973, p. 590 as cited in Fawcett and Cormack, 2001, p. 688). Tourists are seeking ‘real thing’ in other words an ‘authentic experience’, but they also want evidence that these things are authentic (Stiebel, 2004). For this reason, authenticity requires careful interpretation regarding place planners or managers. Interpretation which is the subject of this present study is a vital element in literary places associated with the author as in all historical and cultural sites. Other concepts that are sought in actual literary places together with authenticity are nostalgia and the emotional connection with the author. Nostalgia links to emotional involvement with the past, the evocative power of objects and the need to escape a less meaningful present (Gentile and Brown, 2015). The emotional and intellectual relationships between the author and the reader also bring up literary awareness which is another crucial concept regarding literary tourism. Literary awareness refers to the level of knowledge and interest in the author or his/her works.
Heritage interpretation is about explaining the characteristics and significance of a place, its features and its history. This explanation is for residents and visitors, anyone who has an interest in the natural and cultural heritage, the people and the visual and emotional experiences of a heritage site (HISA, 2015, p. 6). According to Freeman Tilden who made the first definition of heritage interpretation, interpretation is ‘an educational activity which aims to reveal meanings and relationships through the use of original objects, by firsthand experience, and by illustrative media, rather than simply to communicate factual information’ (Tilden, 1977, p. 8). Education is the key characteristic of Tilden’s definition, as the main component of the interaction between heritage site and visitors. As is an integral part of heritage tourism, heritage interpretation involves experience, understanding and enjoyment of the values of cultural heritage by visitors at heritage sites. By communicating the meaning of a heritage site, interpreters facilitate understanding and appreciation of sites by the general public. They also create public awareness about the importance of heritage and its protection (UNESCO and IFT, 2007, p. 90).
Heritage interpretation can be delivered in many ways. One of these ways is a personal interpretation. Personal interpretation involves people such as tour guides, rangers and museum guides explaining to individuals or groups the significance of their site. This interpretation allows the interpreter and the audience to ask questions of each other and to engage in conversations about the site (HISA, 2015). Non-personal interpretation includes exhibitions, panels, signage, digital presentations, websites, recorded audio guides and printed information such as brochures, leaflets, guidebooks, books, maps.
There are many studies about the interpretation of literary places. It is seen that some studies focused on the interpretation strategies of literary sites by evaluating these strategies in terms of site management or by investigating how these interpretation decisions affect the literary tourists’ experiences (Ashworth and Ashworth, 1998; Booth, 2008; Fawcett and Cormack, 2001; Fox, 2008; Gothie, 2016; Hartmann, 2013; Herbert, 2001; Jia, 2009; Marques and Cunha, 2013; Muresan and Smith, 1998; Petroman et al., 2008; Santesso, 2004; Scarfuto, 2013; Tekgül, 2016; Wallace, 2009; Waysdorf and Reijnders, 2016; Young, 2015; Yu and Xu, 2016).
Interpretation of literary places is vital as a determinant of the quality levels of experience and satisfaction of tourists. Each literary site faces choices on the extent of interpretation, related to the forms taken and the messages selected. Interpretation decisions may have many different purposes, or the priority objectives may vary from site to site. These may include economic purposes, the need to profit improvement by attracting visitors or cultural purposes, the effort to wide knowledge and to increase recognisability of an author and his or her literary works (Herbert, 1996). Whatever the purpose is, there are several principles to be considered for the success of interpretation. Tilden (1977) determined six principles of interpretation. Tilden argued that any interpretive effort, whether written or oral or projected by means of mechanical devices, if based upon these six principles, will be correctly directed. Tilden’s first principle is about visitors’ personality and experience. The visitor’s chief interest is in whatever touches his personality, his experience and his ideals. According to Tilden, the visitor is unlikely to respond unless what the interpreter has to tell or to show, touches his personal experience, thoughts, hopes the way of life, social position or whatever else. The visitors see things through their eyes, not those of the interpreter and they translate the interpreter’s words in the light of their intimate knowledge and experience. The second principle of Tilden concerns the relationship between information and interpretation. This principle distinguishes between raw data and message (Dumbraveanu, Craciun, & Tudoricu, 2016). The raw material of interpretation is information but based on this information every visitor shapes the message according to her/his interests, perception levels and personal experiences. In the third principle, Tilden emphasizes the importance of ‘entertainment’ function, the interpreter should tell a story using his/her artistic background and various materials rather than recite information and make sure that the ‘entertainment’ function is in the foreground. In the fourth principle, Tilden reemphasizes that interpretation is not merely giving information to audiences: ‘the chief aim of interpretation is not instruction, but provocation’. According to Dumbraveanu et al. (2016), this principle may be the most important principle due to impress the ultimate goal of the interpretation process. Provocation means drawing the attention of audiences, stimulating them toward a desire to widen their interest and knowledge and to comprehend the greater truths. According to Tilden’s fifth principle, the fundamental purpose of interpretation is to present a whole rather than a part, no matter how interesting the specific part may be. Visitors of cultural sites such as museums should leave with one or more whole pictures in his mind than with various information pieces. In the case of literary tourism, the managers of author-related houses must choose to wholly describe the author’s entire life story, how this life story is reflected in the literary works of the author and the importance of the house in this life story rather than presenting superficial information about the author in interpretation decisions. In the sixth principle, Tilden laid down is about the young mind. It is necessary to give information to children at the level that they could understand by avoiding scientific language and professional terms.
Besides Tilden’s principles of interpretation, ICOMOS (2008) ratified seven principles for heritage sites, and literary places, especially the actual places associated with the author, must take into account these principles in their interpretation decisions. These seven principles are ‘Access and Understanding’, ‘Information Sources’, ‘Context and Setting’, ‘Authenticity’, ‘Sustainability’, ‘Inclusiveness’ and ‘Research, Training and Evaluation’. In this study, the interpretation decisions of the author-related houses have been evaluated in the light of these principles.
The research aims to evaluate how effective author-related houses in literary tourism and the extent to which they meet the expectations of literary tourists by examining their interpretation forms. By this purpose, the study addresses these following questions:
· What are the level of authenticity of the house and the objects exhibited in the house?
· What are the interpretation strategies determined and interpretation techniques used?
· What is the level of meeting expectations of literary tourists?
The research is qualitative and descriptive. It is aimed at developing an in-depth understanding of how different author-related houses in Turkey provide insight into the literary tourism. The case study design which is one of the qualitative research designs is used in the study. Case study design explores a case or cases over time through detailed, in-depth data collection involving multiple sources of information (e.g., observations, interviews, audiovisual material, and documents and reports) and reports a case description and case-based themes (Creswell, Hanson, Clark, & Morales 2007, p. 245). This study used multiple case study design and selected three author-related houses in Turkey. These houses are; Necati Cumalı Memorial and Culture House located in Urla-İzmir, Namık Kemal House located in Tekirdağ and Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum located in Burgazada-İstanbul.
Observation and semi-structured interview methods were used as data gathering methods in the study. Interviews were conducted on the issues such as the history of the museum, museum operations, authenticity level, interpretation strategies, events, relations with stakeholders, marketing and promotion activities, etc. On August 4, 2017, Necati Cumalı Memorial and Culture House, on August 14, 2017, Namık Kemal House and on August 16, 2017, Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum were visited. By visiting all parts of the author-related houses, photographs were taken and then interviews were conducted with authorities of the houses. After the visits, various notes were taken through the photos and recordings of interviews were analysed. The obtained data were analysed by descriptive analysis.
Case 1: Necati Cumalı Memorial and Culture House
Necati Cumalı was born on January 13, 1921, in Florina, Greece. He migrated to Urla district of İzmir with his family in 1924 Turkish-Greek Population Exchange. İzmir is the 3rd biggest city in Turkey and Urla is located in the western part of İzmir, in the centre of the peninsula that carries its name. Urla is an ancient centre; its history goes back to about 2000 BC. Residents, in general, live one or two storey masonry stone buildings. After immigrating to İzmir from Florina, Greece Necati Cumalı also lived in such a stone building until 1957.
Figure 1: Necati Cumalı Memorial and Culture House
Necati Cumalı is one of the best-known authors of 20th-century Turkish Literature with a plain and impressive language and the skill of narrating people in the life naturally. As an author, poet and playwright Necati Cumalı composed numerous literary works. Some of his works are Kızılçullu Yolu (The Way of Kızılçullu, poetry, 1943, his first book); ‘Harbe Gidenin Şarkıları’ (The Songs of One Who Goes to War, poetry, 1945); ‘Tütün Zamanı’ (Time of Tobacco, novel series, Zeliş [Zeliş, 1959], Yağmurlarla Topraklar [Rain and the Earth, 1973], Acı Tütün [Bitter Tobacco, 1974]); ‘Susuz Yaz’ (Dry Summer, short story, 1962, filmed in 1963); ‘Ay Büyürken Uyuyamam’ (I Can’t Sleep as the Moon Grows, short story, 1969), Makedonya 1900 (Macedonia 1900, short story, 1976), Viran Dağlar (Ruined Mountains, novel, 1994). The main plays of Necati Cumalı are ‘Mine’ (Mine), ‘Boş Beşik’ (Empty Cradle), ‘Ezik Otlar’ (Crushed Weeds), ‘Vur Emri’ (Order to Kill), ‘Derya Gülü’ (Sea Rose) and ‘Nalınlar’ (The Clogs).
Necati Cumalı used Urla as decor in most of his literary works, and some of the movies adapted from his works were shot in Urla. Therefore, he is integrated with Urla and his house which serves as a museum to honour his memory is a famous touristic attraction that many tourists visiting Urla want to visit. The ownership of Necati Cumalı Memorial and Culture House belongs to Urla Municipality, and it was restored with the contributions of the Ministry of Culture of Turkey and put into service in 2001.Necati Cumalı Memorial and Culture House which is a typical Aegean house has two floors. The entrance hall, which is considered as information room, is the hall that visitors of the house are welcomed, and the general information about the author is presented. On the wall of the entrance hall, photos of the author, posters of his works and various examples of his poems are exhibited. There is also a bust of the author and a guestbook.
Figure 2: The Entrance Hall of the House
The most significant difference of this house from other author-related houses is the preference of personal interpretation in this house. From the entrance hall, all visitors go on a guided tour through all rooms of the house and obtain detailed information about the crucial periods of the author’s life and his works as well as they learn about the history of the house and the objects exhibited in the house. With this method that enables interactive communication, visitors can ask questions about the author and can express their feelings and thoughts. The museum official stated that visitors rarely didn’t need the guidance and wanted to tour alone.
On the ground floor of the house, the chronological life story of the author is presented on a big panel. In the room used as the living room from two rooms on the ground floor, information about works of the author and prizes he received is presented through big panels. The other room on the ground floor offers a public library service. In this room, there are brochures about the story of conversion the house to the museum is presented on a big panel. In this way, the function of providing information of interpretation is fulfilled at the beginning of the museum visitation.
With regards to signage, it is seen that all rooms of the house are named, and signboards are hanged in the entrance of the rooms in Turkish and English languages. There are also descriptions of objects and documents exhibited, but these descriptions are only written in Turkish.
The construction date of the original version of Necati Cumalı Memorial and Culture House was 1874, but this house was demolished in 1985 by the municipality due to road construction. Afterwards, as a result of an agreement signed between the municipality and the Ministry of Culture the reconstruction decision as a museum house was made and the building was built as faithfully as possible to its original form. Therefore, regarding authenticity principle, it cannot be said that this house which literary tourists visit is the house the author lived but it was underlined that a significant part of the objects exhibited in the house belonged the author. These objects were brought to this house after his death from the house where he lived in İstanbul. It is possible to see some of these objects in the room which has arranged as working room on the second floor of the house. There are also the author’s objects and personal documents that allow visitors to witness his life on this floor. These include his identity card, passport, marriage certificate, high school physics notebook, mortar collection and various game sets. It is also possible to see the awards of the author on this floor. The second-floor walls are also equipped with the author’s photos, poems and posters of his works. In general, there is no different focus point apart from Necati Cumalı regarding the design of the museum house and the objects exhibited. Hence, it can be stated unequivocally that these interpretation decisions that are preferred a match with the motivations of literary tourists to recognise, understand and connect with the author.
Figure 3: The Working Room of Necati Cumalı
The most preferred interpretation methods at the museum house are guidance, big panels and brochures. Besides these, there is no audio or video recording of the author. Similarly, no audio or video presentation of the author’s life is preferred. There is neither a website nor an official social media page of the museum house. The lack of website and a social media page is a significant shortcoming regarding marketing and promotional activities and tourists wishing to obtain prior information about the house.
Case 2: Namık Kemal House
Namık Kemal was a Turkish author, poet, playwright and journalist. He was born on December 21, 1840, in Tekirdağ which is located in the East Thrace region of Turkey, and lived there until the age of six. His writings and poems are full of feelings for his country and the nation, so he earned a reputation as ‘Liberty Poet’ and ‘Motherland Poet’. His best-known plays are ‘Vatan Yahut Silistre’ (Motherland or Silistra, 1873), ‘Zavallı Çocuk’ (Poor Boy, 1873), ‘Akif Bey’ (Mr Akif, 1874), ‘Gülnihal’ (Young Rose, 1875), ‘Celaletttin Harzemşah’ (Celalettin Harzemşah, 1885) and his novels are ‘İntibah’ (Regret, 1876) and ‘Cezmi’ (Cezmi, 1880).
Figure 4: Namık Kemal House
The house where Namık Kemal was born could not be preserved until today. In 1992, an association was founded with the instruction of the governor during that period and the construction of a house that reflects the architectural style of Namık Kemal’s period was started around the house where Namık Kemal was born.
Although Namık Kemal House is put into service to honour Namık Kemal’s memory, it also carries an ethnographic museum characteristic that reflects the cultural characteristics of Tekirdağ, the birthplace of him. The message that the house wants to give to its visitors is not just to narrate Namık Kemal’s life story and to brief about his works as an author but also to show the cultural characteristics and traditions of that period of Tekirdağ at the focus of Namık Kemal.
All objects reflecting Namık Kemal period and Tekirdağ culture are exhibited in the house thanks to the donations of Tekirdağ citizens. This feature is significant in terms of implying the inclusiveness principle of interpretation is applied, and the society is involved in the process.
At the entrance of the two-storey house, many old photos and newspaper reports about Namık Kemal and his period are exhibited. In the hall of the ground floor, all the works associated with Namık Kemal are exhibited, and the official of the house stated that “this archive is the richest Namık Kemal archive in Turkey”.
Figure 5: 19th Division Room
On the ground floor, there is a room in which kitchen equipment belonging to Tekirdağ Rumelia Region are exhibited and “19th Division Room” which is arranged for Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. It was stated that Atatürk had come to Tekirdağ 5 times, “19th Division” had been established in Tekirdağ and Atatürk had gone to “Battle of Gallipoli” from Tekirdağ and the “Alphabet Reform” had been launched unofficially in Tekirdağ. Also, it was stated that because of Atatürk’s inspiration from Namık Kemal’s ideas a room had been arranged for Atatürk.
On the second floor, there are two rooms arranged as a guest room and bedroom, a room arranged for poets and authors in Tekirdağ and a room named “Namık Kemal Room”. The objects exhibited in these rooms have also been gifts donated by Tekirdağ people. Every room in the house is given a different name. For example, one of these rooms is named as “Şenol Engin Room”, the governor of that period, who gave the instruction decision for the founding of the association, while other carries the name of “Mehmet Serez” the founding president of the association and the researcher who contributed efforts for the house. The signboards of these names are hanged in the entrance of the rooms in the Turkish language. As well as brief descriptions of the objects and documents exhibited in the house, the names of the people who donated the objects have also been specified on them.
On the second floor in the room that arranged as ‘Namık Kemal Room’, there is the genealogy of Namık Kemal and a cartographical sketch showing the regions he served. Even though the room carries the name of “Namık Kemal Room”, none of the objects exhibited in this room and the other rooms of the house belong to Namık Kemal. Although this seems to be a negative situation regarding “authenticity” experience that literary tourists seek, Namık Kemal House authorities tried to turn this deficiency into an advantage in their interpretation decisions by focusing on not only Namık Kemal but also Tekirdağ in that period he lived. However, it is evident that in Namık Kemal House literary tourists who are motivated by an emotional connection with the author could not have quality experience as in other author-related houses.
Figure 6: Namık Kemal Room
There is a newspaper as printed information from interpretation methods. Namık Kemal House published a newspaper on December 2, 2016, the anniversary of Namık Kemal’s death by the name of “İbret” which is the namesake of the newspaper Namık Kemal published in the 1870s. This newspaper is presented to all visitors of the house. There is no any printed material provided to visitors other than this newspaper.
There is neither a website nor an official social media page in Namık Kemal House as in Necati Cumalı Memorial and Culture House. There is also no guidance service provided to the guests by the house. However, it was stated that visitors were welcomed in a pleasant environment with tea or coffee as much as possible and could ask about the issues they wonder related to the author.
Case 3: Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum
Sait Faik Abasıyanık was born on November 23rd, 1906 in Adapazarı which is a city in northwestern Turkey. Although the author composed two novels called ‘Medar-ı Maişet Motoru’ (An Engine for the Sign of Livelihood, 1944) and ‘Kayıp Aranıyor’ (Lost Wanted, 1953) and a poetry book called ‘Şimdi Sevişme Vakti’ (Now It is Time to Make Love, 1953) the first thing coming to mind about Sait Faik is his short stories. His most known short stories are ‘Semaver’ (Samovar, 1936), ‘Sarnıç’ (Cistern, 1939), ‘Şahmerdan’ (Punch Press, 1940), ‘Lüzumsuz Adam’ (Unnecessary Man, 1948), ‘Havada Bulut’ (The Cloud in the Sky, 1951), ‘Kumpanya’ (Theatretical Company, 1951), ‘Havuz Başı’ (The Side of Pool, 1952) and ‘Son Kuşlar’ (The Last Birds, 1952). In short stories of Sait Faik written with a naïve language are prominent with sincerity and his deep human love. Since 1955, the Sait Faik Story Award which is one of Turkish Literature’s most prestigious awards is awarded to a short story author each year to commemorate the memory of Sait Faik Abasıyanık.
Figure 7: Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum Figure 8: The Statue of Sait Faik Abasıyanık
Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum is in Burgazada which is the third largest of the Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara, near İstanbul. It is conveniently located for anyone arriving on the island and facilitates its accessibility with many direction signs. This house was bought from a Greek Family in 1938 by his father. Since his father died the same year, Sait Faik lived in this house with his mother, Makbule Abasıyanık. One day in the last years of his life Sait Faik went to one of the schools of Darüşşafaka Society, which is a foundation that aims equality of opportunity in education for talented orphan children since 1863, and was welcomed very well and warmly by the students. Sait Faik who was very pleased with this asserted that their assets could be donated to Darüşşafaka while he was talking his experience to his mother. His mother adopted this declaration as a will and donated this house after her son’s death to Darüşşafaka Society on condition that as public and free museum.
All the rooms of the three-storey house in Greek Architecture are named by number. On the ground floor of the house, there is the number 1 “Guest Room” and the number 2 “Dining Room” which is connected to this room by an intermediate door. The signboards of these names and numbers are hanged in the entrance of the rooms in the Turkish language as in other author-related houses. On the walls of these two rooms, the photos and memories of Sait Faik with famous people that most of his readers know them well are exhibited on the big panels. Thus, by this interpretation decision, the museum succeeds in attracting literary tourists to the life story of Sait Faik in the first room.
Figure 9: Dining Room
Figure 10: The Bedroom and Workroom of Sait Faik Abasıyanık
The general decoration of the museum adopts a very stylish and simple style as it is in these two rooms on the ground floor. There are not many objects in the museum, and this simple design makes the museum more effective. The only message the museum wants to give to visitors is Sait Faik’s life story. So, according to this aim, many objects have been left out of the concept. It was stated that this chosen concept was actually based on the will of Makbule Abasıyanık: “Just tell my son”. Through this interpretation form, literary tourists can make their visit without moving from the story of Sait Faik’s life and without focusing on a different object which will lead to the breaking of their connection with him.
All the information belonging to Sait Faik is presented on the big panels and under each of the exhibited documents, detailed explanations are written in Turkish and English. It was stated that because of this extensive information, the guidance service was not given to individual visitors, but it was added that it could be given to groups if requested.
The most critical difference of Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum from the other two author-related houses is that the author personally lived in that building. In other words, the building is original; it is not a building built after the author’s death. Besides, since the museum began to serve very soon after Sait Faik’s death, it was possible to keep and preserve the original objects in the house and the personal items of Sait Faik. This feature brings the house to an advantageous position regarding authenticity principle. Especially the rooms on the second floor of the house are very precious for tourists seeking authenticity. One of these rooms was used by Sait Faik as a workroom and a bedroom. In other two rooms, while Sait Faik’s life story is chronologically informed through big panels, it is also possible to be seen the personal documents and items related to this information such as identity card, high school diploma, school notebook, election certificate, passport, cigarette box.
The two rooms on the penthouse were designed with interpretation decisions aimed at establishing an emotional connection with the author. The concept of one of these rooms was designed as ‘Sait Faik’s Burgazada’, and in this room, the quotes from his stories about the island, his own original fishery equipment and his famous hat are exhibited. The other room was designed with the concept of ‘Letter Room’, and it is possible to be seen in the letters he wrote or received. Moreover, the translation of the letters written in the old alphabet was made. Visitors can also write a letter to Sait Faik in this room.
Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum’s most widely interpretation form is big panels. Brochures are available as printed materials. At the entrance, there is a sketch showing the parts of the house and guides the visitors. It was stated that if requested guidance service could be provided for the groups as well as a documentary film about Sait Faik could be displayed.
Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum utilises the Internet efficiently unlike the other two author-related houses. The museum has an official website and social media pages such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Tripadvisor. Through this social media pages, information related to Sait Faik, the museum and the events in the museum are shared. Museum officials give feedback to the comments visitors make on this social media pages. This indicates that social media is used interactively by the museum. In this context, it would not be wrong to say that Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum increases its effectiveness as a museum using multiple interpretation methods.
Discussion and Conclusion
The interpretation decisions are made in a literary site are determinative in the quality of the ultimate experience of literary tourists. Author-related literary tourism sites should determine their interpretation decisions by taking into account the elements that motivate literary tourists and their wishes and expectations. In formulating the interpretation strategies in literary places, heritage interpretation principles must be applied. Even though all seven heritage interpretation principles that ICOMOS ratified in 2008 are essential for literary places, some principles are more prominent regarding the characteristics of literary tourism.
The most vital heritage interpretation principle that must be applied to literary sites is authenticity due to an authentic experience is the most sought thing in a literary site by literary tourists. They want to see and touch the real objects that used by the author and want to imagine the scenes about the author such as while walking around, working, reading or eating in his/her own house. Hence, the literary sites that can present the authentic experience literary tourists seek with the evidence and documents meet the expectations of literary tourists. A literary site in which the actual objects of the author are exhibited also brings the nostalgia feeling, and in this sense, it is appealing to literary tourists. Regarding the authenticity principle for investigated author-related houses, in Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum literary tourists can find a more authentic experience on the occasion of both it is the actual house that Sait Faik lived in, and the exhibited objects and documents are original.
One of the most important principles of interpretation is information sources. Accurate information about the author and the literary site must be conveyed through selected interpretation methods. In this study, it was revealed that the principle of providing information was applied with various methods such as guidance, printed materials or big panels and it was seen that this principle was given importance by all three author-related houses. However, as Tilden referred in his interpretation principles, these methods such as big panels or printed materials are only methods that can provide the raw data. It is required to be able to present these raw data in a way that draws the attention of visitors through interpretation decisions taken in literary places. Among the three author-related houses investigated, Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum partially succeeds in this issue. In the museum, the author’s life story is presented in support of the actual objects as well as the author’s various interesting memories are also presented in company with real objects and photographs to make charming the author’s life story. Furthermore, as mentioned in the previous sections, the two rooms arranged in the penthouse are quite special rooms regarding expectations and motivations of literary tourists. Also, it was stated by the authorities of all three author-related houses that several events are occasionally organised. These events are an inspiring interpretive technique that enables information to be presented in different ways and which leads to interest in the author’s life. Various events such as exhibitions, panels, documentary screenings, competitions, etc. should be organised in literary places as much as possible in collaboration with the stakeholders, for instance, local governments, schools, media or non-governmental organisations.
Accessibility of the literary site is another critical feature for literary tourist, and it should be facilitated. The directional signs concerning the literary site in the area where the site is located should be placed in sufficient number. In this respect Namık Kemal House and Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum are sufficient, but the absence of any direction sign in the district concerning to Necati Cumalı Memorial and Culture House located in Urla makes the accessibility of the site confusing. Along with accessibility, understanding is a crucial principle for literary places. Signboards in the house and explanations of the objects or documents exhibited must be in different languages. Apart from Namık Kemal House, in the other two author-related houses the signboards and some explanations are both in Turkish and English, but it is not sufficient. All interpretation activities should be both in Turkish and in English, this is an essential feature for foreign visitors who want to recognise these Turkish authors whose works had been translated into foreign languages.
Authorities of literary places should focus on different interpretation methods that will make the house attractive. For example, electronic audio guides, visual presentations as well as records of the author’s own voice, if possible. The Internet and especially the social media are also important and should be used for these author-related houses in the museum status. There are any interpretation methods including the use of technology in investigated author-related houses. Being non-profit organisations, affiliating with municipalities or associations, having two or three staff and the lack of budget often make it difficult to using technology in interpretation methods and applying current approaches in marketing and promotion activities. However, it is also necessary to add that the website and the social media pages are actively used in Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum.
Author-related literary places are a part of cultural heritage. Therefore, it is essential to preserve their originality and to ensure their sustainability. Authorities of literary places must work with experts and collaborate in the interpretation and exhibition decisions since the beginning stage. This study investigated three author-related houses in Turkey as case studies but did not aim at a comparative analysis of the houses. In future studies, quantitative or qualitative research may be carried out that examine the effects of interpretation forms on the satisfaction level of literary tourists.
I would like to thank the participants of the conference ‘1st International Congress on Tourism, Economic and Business Sciences’, Skopje/Macedonia, 1-5 November 2017, for their valuable comments on earlier version of this article. I am also thankful to managers of Necati Cumalı Memorial and Culture House, Namık Kemal House and Sait Faik Abasıyanık Museum for accepting the interview and sharing knowledge with me.
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