Places: Memed, My Hawk

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: İnce Memed, 1955 (English translation, 1961)

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Folklore

Time of work: Early twentieth century

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*Dikenli Plateau

*Dikenli Memed, My HawkPlateau. Highland plain nestled beneath the rugged peaks of Turkey’s Alidagh Mountains in the Taurus chain; tiny villages on the plateau, such as Kinalitepe, provide the main setting for the novel. The novel devotes considerable attention to the various natural images offered to the viewer of Dikenli. Because of its high altitude, it is often cloaked in a cloudy mist and is barely visible. In the season of intense sun, the whiteness of an extensive blanket of thistles make it appear as a field of snow. Kemal speaks also of the strong aroma of soil which, although not fully fertile, symbolizes the earthiness of village existence.

*Alidagh Mountain

*Alidagh Mountain. Most prominent peak in the region in which the novel is set. Its vegetation ceases at a certain height, and the rocky crags around its summit provide a multitude of refuges in which Slim Memed hides during his flight. His last refuge before he is captured is in a cave on Alidagh. The mountain’s summit commands a view of the Seyhan River as it runs its most rapid course through the mountains, and at the end of its descent from the mountain, the beginnings of the open plains of Cilicia.


*Taurus. Major mountain range that separates southeastern Turkey from northeastern Syria. Known to the Turks as Aladaghlar, the range forms an arc around the rich agricultural plain of Cilicia. The novel paints a vivid picture of the separation between rugged mountain village life and the plains life in Cilicia proper. Indeed, the story revolves around the concept of the mountains as a refuge from governmental agents of control in the plains.


*Cilicia. Agricultural plains of southeast Turkey (formerly known as Asia Minor) that have always been richly productive. Settled life of villagers on the plains contrasts markedly with the more marginal village life in the surrounding mountains. Despite their determination to remain independent of government authority, some of Kemal’s Dikenli Plateau villagers say they might eventually come down to the plains, where life is easier, but only after the time of troubles depicted in the story is past.


*Adana. Main city of the Cilician region, located centrally on the agricultural plains, that owes its lifeblood to the Seyhan River, which flows out of the Taurus Mountains. Older Turks remember Adana under its older name, Seyhan, symbolizing its debt to the river.

*Saurun River

*Saurun River. One of several rivers that flow out of the Taurus Mountains onto the Cilician plains. Where the Saurun empties onto the flatlands a shallow lake sometimes appears, depending on runoff amounts. The novel describes a particularly swampy region known as Aghdjasas where, again, the author’s keen sense of contrasting colors and aromas allow him to offer a verbal tableau very much like a painting.

BibliographyEvin, Ahmet Ö., ed. Edebiyat: A Journal of Comparative and Middle Eastern Literatures 5, nos. 1/2 (1980). The entire issue is devoted to Kemal and his work. Four articles discuss Memed, My Hawk in detail.Prokosch, Frederic. “Robin Hood in Anatolia.” Saturday Review 44, no. 3 (August 19, 1961): 19, 55. Claims that the novel fails as social criticism but succeeds as myth.Rau, Santha Rama. “Robin Hood of the Taurus Mountains.” The New York Times Book Review, June 11, 1961, 6-7. Praises the novel for its romantic and epic qualities.Theroux, Paul. “Turkish Delight.” The New York Times Book Review, July 10, 1977, 40. In a review of They Burn the Thistles (1972), which is a sequel to Memed, My Hawk, Theroux compares Kemal to William Faulkner and laments the Turkish author’s relatively small audience in America compared to his audiences in Turkey and Europe.“Turkish Robin Hood.” Time 77, no. 25 (June 16, 1961): 90. A representative review of the novel when it was first published in the United States. Touts Memed as a latter-day Robin Hood and speculates about the influence of the author’s life on the narrative.
Categories: Places