Pertev Naili Boratav

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Pertev Naili Boratav, born Mustafa Pertev (September 2, 1907 – March 16, 1998) was a Turkish folklorist and researcher of folk literature.[1] He has been characterized as 'the founding father of Turkish folkloristics during the Republic'.[2]


Pertev Naili Boratav was born in 1907 in Darıdere - today known as Zlatograd, in Bulgaria, but then a town in the Sanjak of Gümülcine in the Ottoman Empire. He was educated at Istanbul High School before entering Istanbul University in 1927, graduating from the Turkish Language and Literature Department in 1930. In 1931-32 he worked as an assistant to the historian Mehmet Fuat Koprulu. After establishing Turkey's first Department of Folk Literature in 1946, Boratav was one of three professors who in 1947 were accused of promoting socialism and undermining nationalism. Though eventually acquitted in his 1948 trial, his department was closed and he was forced to move to Paris in 1952.[1] He died in Paris in 1998.[2]

A student of Koprulu and Georges Dumézil, Boratav was also influenced by the writings of Arnold Van Gennep. He was pioneering in giving attention to performative aspects of folklore. The classification of Turkish folktales which he undertook with Wolfram Eberhard modified the comparative approach of Antti Aarne, by insisting that detailed classification of folktales of a particular culture needed to precede attempts at cross-cultural research.[1]


  • Köroğlu destanı [The Köroğlu epic], 1931
  • Halk hikâyeleri ve halk hikâyeciliği [Folk Narratives and Folk Narration], 1946
  • (with Wolfram Eberhard) Typen türkischer Volksmärchen [Types of the Turkish Folktale], 1953
  • Les histoires d'ours en Anatolie [The Bear Stories of Anatolia], 1955
  • Türkische Volksmärchen [Turkish Folk Tales], 1967


  1. ^ a b c Birkalan-Gedik, Hande (2007). "Boratav, Pertev Naili (1907-1988)". In Donald Haase (ed.). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 135–6. ISBN 978-0-313-04947-7.
  2. ^ a b Arzu Öztürkmen, [1] Folklore on Trial: Pertev Naili Boratav and the Denationalization of Turkish Folklore], Journal of Folklore Research, 42:2 (May-August 2005), pp.185-216.

Further reading[edit]

  • Birkalan, Hande, 'Pertev Naili Boratav, Turkish Politics, and the University Events', Turkish Studies Association Bulletin 25:1 (2001), pp.39-60
  • Birkalan, Hande, 'Nachrichten: Pertev Naili Boratav (1907-1998), Fabula 45 (2004), pp.113-17