Tatyana Moran

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Tatyana Moran

Tatyana Moran was born in 1910, in Kerch, Crimea, to a wealthy and politically active family. Her father, who was an admirer of Tolstoy, named his daughters based on Tolstoy novels, including Tatyana. Throughout her comfortable life in Russia, her perspective on life was affected by the education that she received from her governess, Marusya. Her father, a Menshevik, had to leave Russia after the October Revolution, making the rest of his family follow him on the difficult journey to Turkey.

Moran graduated from Notre Dame de Sion in Istanbul. Throughout her education, she had many important friends, including Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's adopted daughter. During the War of Independence, her father went to Lüleburgaz upon the orders of Atatürk to provide the soldiers with bread. In the meantime, Moran went to boarding school, which proved a difficult time. After completing her high school education, Moran went to Belgium to study chemistry. She was not satisfied with her life and education there. She met Nikita Karpof Patrikiyef who was travelling through Belgium at the time. Patrikiyef came from a family that had royal roots. Accepting Patrikiyef's marriage proposal, she decided to go to Africa with him. The unknown possibilities of a far away country and a new life attracted her.

The young couple went to England for bureaucratic reasons and had a quick marriage ceremony in Dover. After travelling through England for a while, they took a long journey to Africa. In the part of her memoir Dün, Bugün, in which she recounts her Nyasaland memories, her perspective can be defined as that of someone who came from Europe and who was used to the comforts of middle-class life. Apart from depicting the life styles, conditions and traditions in Africa after the period of colonialism, her view of the Africans as “others” is highly noticeable. Even though she does not have a racist position, her class distinction is clear. From its rich wildlife which includes animals such as monkeys, crocodiles and lions, to its colourful social life with French missionaries, Scottish neighbours and a production of Hamlet in Portuguese, Africa seems to have created a rich and exotic world of experience for the writer during the three years she spent there.

When Patrikiyef's contract was over, the couple returned to Europe with precious memories, yet, leaving many pets behind. After a long, difficult but enriching journey, they arrive at Liege, passing by Geneva and Paris. Due to a problem with her husband's visas, Moran had to come to Istanbul alone through Italy. After a while her father's friend İhsan Sabri Çağlayangil solved the visa problem. On Patrikiyef's arrival, they lived in Istanbul and in other parts of Anatolia, working in different parts of the country. Moran started to write articles for a French newspaper that was published with the newspaper, Tan. She met many important people, including writers and artists, in the years when Beyoğlu and Babıali were at their liveliest. Apparently, she even danced with Atatürk briefly on a New Year's Eve. In other words, her Dün, Bugün also presents a portrait of life in old Istanbul.

She went to the United States to represent Turkey at an international organisation. In the meantime, Europe was boiling up and Hitler's armies were proceeding through Europe. Therefore, she hurried back to Turkey, despite persistent offers for her to stay. Many European countries had declared mobilisation. Travelling was extremely difficult. Upon her arrival in Turkey, Patrikiyef went to Syria with the British army and the couple split up. Later, Moran enrolled at Istanbul University, Faculty of Literature. She was the student of Halide Edip Adıvar, with her classmates Mina Urgan, Vahit Turhan and Lütfiye Durhan. At the time, professors who escaped from Europe, such as Erich Auerbach, had come to Turkey, establishing new departments and teaching at Turkish universities. Having been influenced by “Professor Bazel,” she wrote her thesis on the 8th century epic, "Battle of Muldoon." She started to work as a research assistant at the university. In the mean time, Vahit Turhan became an assistant professor and new students arrived at the department. Among these students was Berna Moran.

Tatyana Moran met Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar at the university. Starting as a student-teacher relationship, their bond became a close friendship. Tatyana Moran witnessed Tanpınar's gradual progress as a writer. Tanpınar's apartment in Narmanlı, which he found with her help, became the meeting spot of painters, poets and writers. Ahmet Hamdi was Berna Moran's witness at the Morans' wedding ceremony. Later, they travelled to England together. Their close friendship continued until Tanpınar's death.

Tatyana Moran taught students such as Güngör Dilmen and Turan Oflazoğlu at the Faculty of Literature of Istanbul Universtiy and worked at the Department of Philology of the newly founded Erzurum University with Berna Moran. Working under difficult conditions, the couple went back to Istanbul after the 27 May Intervention. Right after arriving in Istanbul, Tatyana Moran went to the United States for ten months on a Fullbright scholarship. After this trip, she continued to work at the Faculty of Literature of Istanbul University. Upon her removal from her post at the university, she started work for the trust founded by Aziz Nesin.

Her friendship circle included many intellectuals such as Haldun Taner, Kemal Tahir, Murat Belge and Cevat Çapan. Tatyana Moran, who travelled abroad for seminars, congresses and trips, was unhappy with the condition of the universities after 1980. Following some health problems, she left Istanbul University. She taught a couple of courses at Boğaziçi University. She wanted to sign the Petition of Intellectuals that was prepared by Aziz Nesin. However, Nesin did not let both Tatyana and Berna Moran sign the petition. He wanted one family member to be free to take care of the other in case of prosecution. After being tried because of the petition, both Aziz Nesin and Berna Moran were absolved of the accusations.

Her husband, Berna Moran died in 1993. Spending her retirement years reading books, Tatyana Moran started to write her memories on the insistence of her friends. The following paragraph from her book, Dün, Bugün describes Moran, who defines herself as someone who does not live by looking at the past, rather well:

“Finally I have written these lines in some way or other. The past that I thought was dead, came back to life and planted itself in front of me. Then I understood that the past never dies, since the past is a part of today. And I, a 90 years old woman, am still that little girl to whom Marusya tells her fairytales and teaches politics.”

Turkish and global histories underpin one of Turkey's most important academics, Tatyana Moran. She witnessed many historical events such as the Russian Revolution, Second World War, Democrat Party's period in power in Turkey, events of 6-7 September, bombing of Istanbul University in 1970 and events of 1 May in Taksim in 1977. She lived a full life.


  • Sovyet Türkologlarının Türk Edebiyatı İncelemeleri (with Yurdanur Salman, 1980)
  • Dün, Bugün (2000)
  • 6-7 Eylül 1955 Olayları: Tanıklar – Hatıralar (edited by Rıfat N. Bali, 2010)


  • Hakan Aksay, “Türkleşmiş Ruslar ve Tatyana Moran”, Birgün, 24 June 2011.
  • Gül Dirican, “Tatyana Moran ve Doksan Yıl”, Milliyet, 29 August 2000.
  • Tatyana Moran, Dün, Bugün, Istanbul: İletişim, 2000.
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