Critic and essayist (b. 21 August 1898, Beylerbeyi / İstanbul - d. 17 May 1957, Ankara). His real name was Ali Nurullah Ata. He also used the pen names Ahfeş, Ali Gümrükçü, Aklan, Kavafoğlu, Nurullah Ata, Sabiha Yağızlar and Süha Kavafoğlu. He was the son of Ata Bey, the translator of Hammer. He studied for four years at Galatasaray High School and then left school and went to Switzerland. Later on, he attended lectures at İstanbul University, Faculty of Literature, but did not complete his studies there (1922). He learnt French by himself. Succeeding in his exams, he became a teacher of French and was appointed a teacher of French at Nişantaşı High School. After working six years there, he served as an interpreter and editor-in-chief at the Ministry of Commerce in Ankara (1925-26). Later, he resumed his profession as a teacher and worked as a teacher of French at various schools in Ankara (1928, 1980, 1939-45) and İstanbul (1930-39). He worked as the General Director of Press and Publishing, as editor-in chief (1945), as interpreter to the President of Republic until his retirement (1952) and as the head of Turkish Language Association’s Department of Publishing until his death.
His first article on Göl Saatleri (Lake Hours) by Ahmet Haşim, appeared in the newspaper Dergâh (1921). Translator of almost fifty books from Greek, Latin, French and Russian classical and contemporary writers, Ataç gained fame through the importance he gave to the attempts to rid the Turkish language of foreign words. During his literary career, he highlighted the importance of avoiding words of Arabian and Persian origin, which included the conjunction “ve” (and). Moreover, he always preferred using inverted sentences. His poems, essays and critiques were published in the newspapers Dergâh, Akşam, Milliyet, Vakit, Cumhuriyet and Ulus.
Günlerin Getirdiği (What the Days Have Brought, 1946), Karalama Defteri (Notebook for Rough Drafts, 1953), Sözden Söze (From Word to Word, 1952), Ararken (While Looking for, 1954), Diyelim (Let’s Say, 1954), Söz Arasında (By the Way, 1957), Okuruma Mektuplar (Letters to My Readers, 1958), Günce (Journal, 1960), Prospero ile Caliban (Prospero and Caliban, 1961, new edition with Okuruma Mektuplar-Letters to My Readers, 1999), Söyleşiler (Interviews, 1964).
In addition, he translated some works of Balzac, Sophocles and Stendhal.