The Germanic Mosaic: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Society

By Carol Aisha Blackshire-Belay | Go to book overview

guide along the Way? (Both husband and guide are called Es, but for the somewhat celibate Bektashis the husband cannot also be the guide, an interesting conundrum for our heroine.)

Finally we have Turgut, the student activist, who is curiously not her lover, although they live in adjoining rooms. Turgut pointedly ignores her while at the same time he protectively shadows her in a dangerous city. The city of Istanbul regularly comes under curfew and martial law. Soldiers patrol the streets and demonstrations are not tolerated. One day Turgut tells everyone he is going into the Anatolian countryside, far away from the city, to teach in the small village where his father lives. The Austrian believes him, and why shouldn't she? His imminent departure and her ambivalent feelings toward him force her to seek him out in his bed. Then a week or two later he is killed in an Istanbul street demonstration. By accident, of course, or rather, through a simple misunderstanding! Our graduate student feels betrayed all around. What was he doing in the city in the first place?

No one she knows will ever tell her what is really going on. But in this intense oppositional moment she begins to suspect that her officially nonexistent and purely historical Bektashi order has for a brief moment moved out of complementary hiding, out of political dissimulation, into a confrontational mode. The black and white of sun and shadow assert themselves in a sudden outbreak of violence before the shadow must again vanish.

Only now, when her stay in Istanbul is over, does the Austrian finally realize what she has gone through. She too has been initiated. She too has become a secret member of an alien order. This is, we all agree, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a foreigner. And it deserves to be chronicled in this excellent Austrian-Turkish novel, even if the story is told with takiye.


REFERENCES

Birge John Kingsley ( 1965). The Bektashi Order of Dervishes. London: Luzac.

Frischmuth Barbara ( 1980). Das Verschwinden des Schattens in der Sonne, Munich: dtv neue reihe 6302.

Gibb H. A. R. ( 1969). Mohammedanism: An Historical Survey. 2d ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Weisskopf Victor F. ( 1985). "Niels Bohr, the Quantum, and the World". In Niels Bohr. A Centenary Volume, ed. A. P. French and P. J. Kennedy. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 19-29.

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