The Time Regulation Institute

Paperback | January 7, 2014

byAhmet Hamdi TanpinarTranslated byAlexander Dawe, Ureen Freely

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A literary discovery: an uproarious tragicomedy of modernization, in its first-ever English translation
 

Perhaps the greatest Turkish novel of the twentieth century, being discovered around the world only now, more than fifty years after its first publication, The Time Regulation Institute is an antic, freewheeling send-up of the modern bureaucratic state.
 
At its center is Hayri Irdal, an infectiously charming antihero who becomes entangled with an eccentric cast of characters—a television mystic, a pharmacist who dabbles in alchemy, a dignitary from the lost Ottoman Empire, a “clock whisperer”—at the Time Regulation Institute, a vast organization that employs a hilariously intricate system of fines for the purpose of changing all the clocks in Turkey to Western time. Recounted in sessions with his psychoanalyst, the story of Hayri Irdal’s absurdist misadventures plays out as a brilliant allegory of the collision of tradition and modernity, of East and West, infused with a poignant blend of hope for the promise of the future and nostalgia for a simpler time.

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A literary discovery: an uproarious tragicomedy of modernization, in its first-ever English translation   Perhaps the greatest Turkish novel of the twentieth century, being discovered around the world only now, more than fifty years after its first publication, The Time Regulation Institute is an antic, freewheeling send-up of the mode...

Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar (1901-1962) is considered one of the most significant Turkish novelists of the twentieth century. Also a poet, short-story writer, essayist, literary historian, and professor, he created a unique cultural universe in his work, combining a European literary voice with the Ottoman sensibilities of the Near East.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 7.73 × 5.01 × 1.11 inPublished:January 7, 2014Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143106732

ISBN - 13:9780143106739

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***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof.***Copyright © 2013 by Maureen Freely and Alexander DaweFor ten years, I acted as assistant head manager of one of the most innovative and beneficial organizations in the world. I helped not only my own immediate family but also my close and distant relatives and my friends, even those who had once betrayed me, by providing them with employment and a sense and source of well-being. In this regard I suppose it would suffice to highlight our contribution to urban development through the construction of a new district near Suadiye, as well as the services our institute provided to its workers, most of whom were in fact relatives of either myself or Halit ayarci. For as soon as the institute was established, Halit made the very important decision—from which we never strayed—that half the management positions and other important posts would be filled by members of our families and the other half by those who had the recommendation of a notable personage.I am not sure if I need to mention the criticisms much aired in the papers long before it was decided to liquidate the institute or the ever more violent attacks that followed the institute’s dissolution. Life can be so strange. Ten years ago the very same papers delighted in everything we did, showering us with praise and holding us aloft as a model to the world. Though they attended our every press conference and never missed an official cocktail party, these dear friends of mine now do nothing but hurl abuse.First they condemned the organization for its unwieldy size and inefficiency. Overlooking the fact that we created jobs for so many in a country where unemployment is rampant, they railed against our excesses: three management offices, eleven management branches, forty-seven typists, and two hundred seventy control bureaus. Then they ridiculed the names of our various branches, overlooking the fact that a watch or clock is indeed made up of hands for minutes and hours, a spring, a pendulum, and a pin, as if the thing we all know as time were not in fact divided into hours, minutes, seconds, and milliseconds. Later the papers called into question the training, expertise, and intellectual underpinnings of our licensed employees—who had garnered over ten years’ experience with us—before mercilessly denouncing my early book, The Life and Works of Ahmet the Timely, which had once delighted them.After tearing to pieces The Life and Works of Ahmet the Timely, they went on to attack all our other studies. For days on end, we would open the papers to find reproductions of our book covers under preposterous headlines that implied the works were somehow subversive or only worthy of derision: The Effect of the North Wind upon the Regulation of Cosmic Time, penned with such painstaking attention to detail by the head of our Millisecond Branch (also husband to our family’s youngest sister-in-law); or Time and Psychoanalysis and The Irdal Method of Time Characterology, both by my dear friend Dr. Ramiz; or Halit Ayarci’s Social Monism and Time and The Second and Society.As if that was not enough, they went on to accuse us outright of being frauds and charlatans, homing in on our accumulative fining system, with its proportional reductions and the bonus discounts that had once so amused and entertained our fellow citizens while also allowing the institute to pursue its varied social and scientific activities. But how warmly these same people had once applauded this system of fines, which I myself invented, just to pass the time, while watching my wife, Pakize, and Halit Ayarci play endless games of backgammon for petty cash during their gambling soirees.One of our esteemed financiers publicly declared this system of fines a most remarkable innovation in the history of accounting and took every opportunity to remind me that he would never hesitate to put me in the same company as the illustrious financiers Doctor Turgot, Necker, and Schacht.And he was right. For in matters of finance—whereby money turns people into good taxpayers—unhappiness has forever been the rule. And in the matter of fines in particular, people inevitably feel a certain discomfort. But our system was not at all like that. When an inspector notified a citizen of his fine, the offender would initially express surprise, but upon apprehending the firm logic behind the system, a smile would spread across his face until, at last understanding this was a serious matter, he would succumb to uproarious laughter. I cannot count the number of people—especially in the early days— who would extend a business card to our inspectors, saying, “Oh please, you absolutely must come over to our house sometime. My wife really must see this. Here’s my address,” and offer to cover the inspector’s taxi fare.Our system of fines specified the collection of five kurus for every clock or watch not synchronized with any other clock in view, particularly those public clocks belonging to the municipality. However, the offender’s fine would be doubled if his timepiece differed from that of any other in the vicinity. Thus the fine might rise proportionally when there were several timepieces nearby. Since the perfect regulation of time is impossible—because of the personal freedom afforded by watches and clocks, something I was naturally in no position at the time to explain—a single inspection, especially in one of the busier parts of town, made it possible to collect a not insignificant sum.The last calculation required by this confusing system concerned the difference between watches or clocks that were either fast or slow. Everyone knows that a watch or clock is either fast or slow. For timepieces, there is no third state. It is an accepted axiom very much akin to the impossibility of exact regulation; that is, of course, assuming the watch or clock has not stopped altogether. But here matters become more personal. My own view is this: since man was created ruler of the universe, objects can be expected to reflect the tenor of his rule. For example, during my childhood, under the reign of Abdülhamid II, our entire society was moribund. Our dissatisfaction stemmed from the sultan’s long face, but it radiated out and infected even physical objects. Everyone my age will recall the mournful cries of the ferryboats of that era, with their piercing foghorns. But with the favorable unfolding of events thereafter, we find our days so full of delight that we now hear joy in a ferryboat’s horn and in the clang of a trolley’s bell.The same can be said for watches and clocks. They inevitably fall in step with an owner’s natural disposition, be it ponderous or ebullient, and in the same way they reflect his conjugal patterns and political persuasions. Certainly in a society like ours that has been swept along by one revolution after another in its relentless march toward progress, leaving behind diverse communities and entire generations, it is all too understandable that our political persuasions would find expression in this way. Political creeds remain secret for one reason or another. With so many sanctions hanging over us, no one is about to stand up in a public place and proclaim, “Now, this is what I think!” or even to say such a thing aloud, for that matter. Thus it is our watches and clocks that hold our secrets, as well as the beliefs and habits that set us apart from others.

Bookclub Guide

INTRODUCTIONHere is the first English translation of Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar’s satirical masterpiece, The Time Regulation Institute. It offers readers a fascinating look at the artistry of one of Turkey’s greatest novelists, as well as a brilliant take on the ambivalent consequences of modernization.The Time Regulation Institute takes the form of a fictional memoir written by Hayri Irdal. Though he claims to have never cared much for reading or writing, he feels compelled to tell his life story to honor the memory of his benefactor and beloved friend, Halit Ayarci. Ayarci founded the Time Regulation Institute and, as Hayri says, “plucked me from poverty and despair and made me the person I am today” (p. 4). That person is surely one of the most engaging, inventive, and altogether remarkable narrators in all of literature.For much of the first half of the novel, Hayri Irdal is tossed by fate from one absurd situation to another. Surrounded by eccentrics, Hayri gets caught up in Seyit Lutfullah’s tireless search for a portal to the other side of reality; in his Aunt’s violent outbursts and vengeful resurrection; in fantastical coffeehouse philosophizing; and in a ridiculous trial concerning the possession of a wonderous diamond that Seyit Lutfullah claimed to have seen during one of his otherworldly visits to the emperor Andronikos. Hayri makes an impassioned speech during the trial that lands him in the Department of Justice Medical Facility, where he is subjected to Dr. Ramiz’s Kafkaesque psychoanalytical methods and told he has a “father complex.” He takes a series of tenuous jobs, ranging from clockmaker’s apprentice to secretary of the Spiritualist Society. He marries, has children, serves in the army, but his life is flustered and aimless—until me meets his benefactor Halit Ayarci.Halit Ayarci lifts him from poverty and aimlessness, placing him in a position of importance at the Time Regulation Institute and giving him some semblance of purpose. But it is an absurd purpose: creating a bureaucracy that defines its own function, that exists solely to justify its own existence. Its stated goal of synchronizing all clocks and watches, passing laws, creating adages, and levying fines to that effect, hardly makes any sense. And indeed Hayri recognizes the pointlessness of the institute’s work. “We don’t seem to be engaged in meaningful activity,” he argues. To which Ayarci offers an uncannily down-the-rabbit-hole postmodernist reply: “What do you mean by meaningful? Are the meanings we share not plucked from the air at a moment’s notice?” (p. 259).This exchange underscores the groundlessness of the modern world that Hayri finds so disorienting. Halit repeatedly accuses Hayri of being old-fashioned, of clinging to outmoded ideas of work, truth, purpose, craftsmanship, etc., in a world being rapidly reshaped by mechanization, bureaucracy, and a manipulative, self-serving relationship to reality. The novel is above all a satire about the absurdities and dehumanizing abstractions of the modern world, with Hayri Irdal serving as the hapless victim on whom these absurdities are inflicted.But the novel is striking not just for its comic brilliance or for its profound insights into the disruptions of modernity. It is remarkable most of all for Tanpinar’s dazzling prose style. Sentences unfold in sinuous coils of multiplying clauses, extended metaphors, hyperbolic exclamations, and an imaginative brio rarely surpassed in modern fiction. Tanpinar was a poet as well as a novelist, and the vividness, inventiveness, and music of his language, even in translation, are remarkable throughout a The Time Regulation Institute, a novel rightly hailed as a tour de force of modern Turkish literature.ABOUT AHMET H TANPINARAhmet Hamdi Tanpinar (1901–1962) is considered one of the most significant Turkish novelists of the twentieth century. Also a poet, short-story writer, essayist, literary historian, and professor, he created a unique cultural universe in his work, combining a European literary voice with the Ottoman sensibilities of the Near East.Maureen Freely was born in the United States, grew up in Istanbul, studied at Radcliffe, and now lives in England, where she teaches at the University of Warwick. The author of seven novels, she is the principal translator of the Nobel Prize–winning novelist, Orhan Pamuk.Alexander Dawe is an American translator of French and Turkish. He lives in Istanbul.Pankaj Mishra is an award-winning novelist and essayist whose writing appears frequently in the New York Review of Books, Guardian, and London Review of Books.A CONVERSATION WITH AHMET H TANPINARQ. In your note on the translation, you mention how important the music of language was for Tanpinar, that he was a poet as well as a novelist. Can you give us some idea of how his language sounds in Turkish? Tanpinar published just one small collection of poetry featuring finely crafted, beautifully cadenced poems full of explosive imagery in which music often mattered as much as meaning. Although perhaps overly stylized and opaque, they are intimate pieces that induce a kind of meditative trance. Tanpinar appreciated both Western and Turkish classical music, and he often tried to capture the essence of the music he loved in his poetry and prose, melding the idea of sound to image—for example the rhythm, melody or mood of a particular Turkish scale might be likened to a distant tower or the sea. We see the same attention to music in his prose but there he draws upon a richer vocabulary, a beautiful blend of often arcane words of Persian and Arabic origin, the very ones Hayri Irdal, our narrator from The Time Regulation Institute, says he skipped over in his early reading. But Tanpinar (and perhaps Hayri, too) relished the sound of many of these words and bemoaned the fact that they were thrown out during the drive to modernize the young republic. In fact, he almost seems to make a point of zeroing in on them in his work, to show us the richness of the Turkish language when it’s firing on all four linguistic cylinders—Ottoman, Persian, Arabic and Modern Turkish.Q. At the end of the note, you also say the solution to working out the shape and dimensions of The Time Regulation Institute came to Alex in a dream, which seems uncannily appropriate for the kind of novel that this is. Could you say what the dream was about and how it solved the problem?We’d spent quite some time trying to picture Hayri’s elaborate architectural design for the Time Regulation Institute; initially it didn’t seem to physically make much sense and we wondered if that was the point: the building was some kind of incomprehensible model of Hayri’s imagination gone wild. So we decided to sleep on it. In the morning, Alex had a vague sense of having seen the institute in a dream. It was Muburak, the Blessed One, the beloved grandfather clock of Hayri’s childhood! But—strangely, and perhaps impossibly—it also suggested a mosque. The image had faded by the time he woke up but after discussing the dream and working through the description together, we realized that the solution was really quite simple: all we needed was a change of perspective. Hayri was describing the structure from a top-down, bird’s-eye view, seeing the full face of a clock from the air, the clock pavilions representing the different hours. Nevertheless, it is still difficult to fully imagine this complex and paradoxical marriage of old and new, east and west, and that maybe is the way it should be—an unachievable, Escher-like structure, more of an ideal than an actual reality.Q. Which chapter did you most enjoy translating? How satisfied are you with the English version of the novel? How have Turkish readers responded to the translation? We had the most fun with the comedic episodes—when Hayri’s Aunt rises from the dead, for example, or when Dr. Ramiz drills Hayri on the importance of will power—and then there are the wonderful descriptions of Hayri’s friends, such as Nuri Efendi, Lutfullah and Abdüsselam. There is a beautiful description of Nuri in his time workshop, carefully working on his almanac, surrounded by all the different timepieces, “as if waiting for their time to rule the world.” Lutfullah’s descriptions of his travels to the world beyond the curtain are truly lovely. And Hayri’s short-lived collaboration with his son on the institute itself is as absurd as it is sublime.Q. You say that Tanpinar was heavily criticized in literary circles as “old-fashioned and irrelevant,” a charge that is made several times against the novel’s hero, Hayri Irdal, as well. To what extent is Hayri an extension of Tanpinar? We suppose Tanpinar related to Hayri in many different ways. Tanpinar was locked in a bitter battle with intellectuals who, in the early years of the republic, were relentlessly set on promoting a pure Turkish purged of words of Persian and Arabic origin. But the project made little sense as many commonly used words were not of Turkic origin. It would be something akin to a native speaker of English insisting that the word façade (of French origin) should forcibly be replaced with the word “skein” (a word of Middle English origin), for the sake of preserving and perpetuating a monolithic cultural or national identity. There is also no doubt that Tanpinar would have related to Hayri’s refusal to entirely dismiss the past. Tanpinar always actively promoted a blend of past and present, a synthesis of the two worlds, as well a balance of Eastern and Western attitudes and sensibilities. That said, Hayri is a bit of a fool, and Tanpinar offers us many jokes at his expense. Perhaps it is best to think of him as Tanpinar’s jester. He is always getting things wrong. He makes outrageous excuses for himself. He is tragically gullible, and yet, at the end of the day, he is a narrator we can love and trust.Q. The Time Regulation Institute seems at times to echo the absurdism of Kafka and Beckett and even the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Who were Tanpinar’s biggest influences?Tanpinar’s poetic voice was very much informed by French symbolists and he closely read the work of Paul Valery, a man of letters whom he admired for both his dynamism and his intellectual breadth. He also was a big fan of Aldous Huxley and James Joyce. Some of his short stories eerily echo stories in Dubliners and a dramatic suicide in his novel A Mind at Peace is clearly modeled after one in Huxley’s Point Counter Point. He was probably inspired by Huxley’s flare for uproariously funny dramatic episodes as well as his interest in capturing music in word. Tanpinar cites a sea change in his literary work after discovering Western classical music; he was equally interested in replicating musical forms in the novel—the four main sections of A Mind at Peace are modeled on the classic four movements of a symphony—as well as capturing the ephemeral, oneiric nature of music in his prose. In his short story Summer Rain he intricately describes the music of Debussy in a series of cascading, vibrant images.No one writing about bureaucracy in the twentieth century could claim not to have been influenced by Kafka. And no one writing about time in that century would forget to refer back to Henri Bergson. The main thing to remember is that Tanpinar was deeply influenced by, and in perpetual conversation with European literary and intellectual culture. He was not a magical realist, but like the Latin Americans who would go on to define that tendency in the later decades of the century, hethought of Paris as the center of the world.DISCUSSION QUESTIONSWhat motivates Hayri Irdal to write his memoirs, even though he announces in the first sentence that he “never cared much for reading or writing” (p. 3)? Does he succeed in honoring his friend and benefactor Hayri Ayarci?How does Hayri’s life change over the course of the novel? What are the most serious (and at the same time absurdly comic) troubles that beset him? How does he react to these challenges?The Time Regulation Institute is an unusual, unconventional novel. Instead of a clear plot that builds narrative momentum, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar relies on a loosely connected episodic structure. In what way is this appropriate to the fictional memoir the novel presents? What are the pleasures of reading a novel structured in this way?How would you describe the kind of humor that permeates The Time Regulation Institute?What are some of the novel’s funniest moments?Tanpinar’s sentences as well as his sensibility are brilliantly inventive. He has a particular gift for hyperbole and for striking metaphors. For example: “With each sip, and indeed with each new glass, I saw the woes that had so oppressed me taking flight, as the daybreak call to prayers might startle a murder of crows from the treetops in the mosque courtyard, dispatching them to far-flung lands, never to return” (p. 222). Why are sentences like this such a joy to read? What do they contribute to the overall texture of the novel?Why is Hayri sent to the Department of Justice Medical Facility to undergo psychoanalysis with Dr. Ramiz? What are the most absurd aspects of Dr. Ramiz’s methods? Is there any truth to his assertion that Hayri suffers from a “father complex?”Hayri berates the watchmaker who had tried to fix Halit Ayarci’s watch: “This wasn’t made on a factory line. It was painstakingly crafted by hand! It’s a letter from one master craftsman to another, but clearly it wasn’t written for you!” Hayri points to the designs on the engraved on the inside of the front cover and says: “It truly grieves me to see a craftsman’s place usurped by a merchant” (p. 204–205). In what ways does this passage illustrate the changes modernity was bringing to a world once dominated not by commerce and mechanization but by craftsmen and craftsmanship? Why does Hayri lament the loss of this world so profoundly? What role has the advent of clocks and watches played in this change?The self-serving and self-justifying proliferation of modern bureaucracy is an obvious satirical target of The Time Regulation Institute. What other aspects of modern life does the book satirize?Halit Ayarci chides Hayri for being an old-fashioned idealist. He goes on to say: “Being a realist does not mean seeing the truth for what it is. It is a question of determining our relationship to the truth in a way that is most beneficial for us” (p. 233). What are the implications of these differing ways of seeing “the truth?” Does Halit Ayarci’s position anticipate a postmodernist critique of straightforward notions of what is true? Or is his comment simply a bit of self-serving sophistry?What is the irony of the Time Regulation Institute being saved, at the last minute, by Halit Ayarci succeeding in having it placed in a state of “permanent liquidation?”Hayri is surrounded by a cast of eccentric characters—Nuri Efendi, Seyit Lutfullah, Dr. Ramiz, Sabriye Hanim, Cemal Bey, Halit Ayarci, his wife Pakize, and many others. What makes these characters so engaging and entertaining? What do they add to the novel?When Hayri tells Halit “we don’t seem to be engaged in meaningful activity,” Halit responds: “We are indeed engaged in work, and work that is vital. Work is a matter of mastering one’s time, knowing how to use it. We are paving the way for such a philosophy. We’ll give our people a consciousness of time. We’ll create a whole new collection of adages and ideas, and spread them all over the country. We shall declare that man is first and foremost a creature who works, and that work itself is time. Is this not a constructive thing to do” (p. 259)? How would you answer this question? Is it constructive to declare that man is above all a creature who works and that work itself is time? Has Halit Ayarci’s prediction come true?

Editorial Reviews

Winner of the Modern Language Association’s Lois Roth Award for a Translation of a Literary Work“Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar is undoubtedly the most remarkable author in modern Turkish literature. With The Time Regulation Institute, this great writer has created an allegorical masterpiece, which makes Turkey’s attempts to westernize and its delayed modernity understandable in all its human ramifications.” —Orhan Pamuk, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature “This excellent book . . . is before all else a first-rate comic novel. . . . Not only entertaining and substantial but also, for lack of a better word, timely. For beyond the historical relevance, beyond the comic esprit, Tanpinar’s elaborate bittersweet sendup of Turkish culture over a half-century ago speaks perfectly clearly to our own, offering long-distance commiseration to anyone whose life is twisted around schedules and deadlines—pretty much everyone, in other words—provided you can find the time to read it.” —The New York Times Book Review “Ingeniously satirical and hauntingly philosophical . . . Bracingly original . . . [A] superb translation.” —The Wall Street Journal   “A modernist novel par excellence: absurdist, obsessive, funny, dark . . . An excellent book about the ­terrible struggle to impose order onto inner and outer states.” —New York magazine “A truly pathbreaking novel, at once nostalgic and modernist, contemporary and out of its time.” —Bookforum “A splendid new version [of] Tanpinar’s eccentric, colourful, ruefully comic saga.” —The Independent, “Books of the Year” “Spellbinding . . . A gem . . . A very funny novel, both in design and line by line . . . As compelling as a lucid dream . . . Its publication feels like a victory. . . . Both novel and author are undeniable stars and deserve, one feels, to have finally reached the world stage, showcased in a spotlight as bright as Penguin Classics.” —The National “One of the best comic novels of the twentieth century in any language.” —Guernica “Prepare to enjoy a voice you did not know existed. . . . [A] beguiling twentieth-century writer, [Tanpinar] wrote in the expansive, unhurried tempo of an earlier era—a little like Russia’s Ivan Goncharov, author of Oblomov, but with more energy, art, and invention. . . . Tanpinar’s multi-timbred prose [and his] luxuriant language and sensibility will envelop you. . . . Like Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 or Jaroslav Hašek’s unfinished dark comedy, The Good Soldier Švejk, The Time Regulation Institute defends the individual spirit—faulty and inconsistent as it may be—against the state that seeks to submerge it in burdensome, soulless duty. . . . Splendid.” —Liesl Schillinger, The Barnes & Noble Review “Laceratingly comic . . . [A] brilliant satire on a modernizing bureaucracy.” —Literary Review “During Tanpinar’s lifetime he was misunderstood and underestimated . . . ; today, decades after his death, he is adulated in Turkey almost to the point of worship. . . . The questions of identity and how to escape it were examined by Tanpinar . . . through incisive analysis and subtle satire—and perhaps nowhere more powerfully than in his best-known book, The Time Regulation Institute, which is now available in a new English translation and with a superb introduction by Pankaj Mishra. . . . The translation deserves commendation. . . . The writing feels timeless and universal. . . . The questions [Tanpinar] raised, perhaps now more than ever, matter not only in Turkey but around the world.” —Elif Shafak, The Times Literary Supplement “Hilarious . . . Richly imagined . . . A brilliant author . . . Like Proust, and Pamuk, Tanpinar opens doors to other books and ideas. . . . Tanpinar’s prose . . . glows and echoes, and one never quite forgets the strange taste of his sentences after reading them. . . . [The Time Regulation Institute is] perhaps the best Turkish novel of the 20th century alongside Orhan Pamuk’s The Black Book.” —PEN Atlas “Like all great satire, this book will make readers laugh and cringe in equal measure. . . . [It] seamlessly combines personal wit with political satire.” —Kirkus Reviews“Brilliantly comic . . . As you read The Time Regulation Institute, you may have the impression that you are reading a nineteenth-century novel— . . . with dozens of characters, surprising sub-plots and revelations—in short, all the good stuff of those classic French, German, English and Russian classics. So now we can add a Turkish novel to the list. . . . Tanpinar’s masterpiece [is] finally available in a glorious English translation.” —Counterpunch“Maureen Freely and Alexander Dawe’s masterful and finely nuanced translation lures the reader into the novel’s many complexities . . . in an English that is both clear and musical.” —Judges’ citation, Modern Language Association’s Lois Roth Award“How is it that it has taken half a century for this extraordinary novel to reach a public outside the Turkish language? . . . Dickens’s Jarndyce family and their Chancery lawyers, Melville’s Bartleby and his Dead Letter Office, Kafka’s K and his hallucinatory trial [are] forerunners incarnated in Tanpinar’s naïf hero . . . who is held captive in that same world of absurd rules and regulations. . . . Penguin Classics has done English-speaking readers a great service by allowing us to discover in The Time Regulation Institute one of the great satirical masterpieces of modern times [by] one of the most talented and ingenious writers of the twentieth century.” —Alberto Manguel, Geist