The Art of the Turkish Tale - Vol. 1

The Art of the Turkish Tale - Vol. 1

The Art of the Turkish Tale - Vol. 1

The Art of the Turkish Tale - Vol. 1

Synopsis

In casting them into English, Walker has paid particular attention to capturing the flavor and excitement of the Turkish telling, while not infringing "on the narrator's right to have the tale recreated as he had told it." The Beauty, power, and appeal of the present volume for the general reading public, however, depends largely upon Barbara Walker's own consummate skill as a teller and re-teller of tales and her commitment to conveying as much of the Turkish performance context as possible. In a gesture which is perhaps symptomatic of the reasons for this volume's success, [Barbara Walker] recognizes in the Acknowledgments section each and every tale-teller by name#151;all forty of them, ranging in age from nine to ninety and coming from the many different walks of life, both urban and rural, to be found in twenty out of Turkey's seventy-four provinces from Mugla to Kars and from Istanbul to Diyarbakir. In presenting the works of "all these generous bearers of tradition" to an English-speaking audience, [she] has achieved her aim of opening a small window on the art of the Turkish tale in a volume which stands as a tribute to the art of book making as well. Sarah Moment Atis, Chair, Middle East Studies Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison President, Turkish Studies Association This will stand as a fine, quintessential contribution. One hears the whispers of the original voices in these versions, all of which are artful, recast in colloquial rhythms, and couched in a style that conveys the substance, the shape, the spirit, and the sumptuousness or the simplicity of the tale. Talat Sait Halman, Turkey's former Minister of Culture, then Ambassador for Cultural Affairs; now Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures, New York University

Excerpt

Turkish Tales
Fun and Fantasy for All Ages

In Anatolia’s culture, oral literature has played a vivid role since the earliest times. Aesop came from Phrygia, whose capital, Gordium, stood on a site not far from Ankara, the capital of modern Turkey. Homer was probably born and reared near present-day Izmir and wandered up and down the Aegean coast amassing the tales and legends that came to be enshrined in his Iliad and Odyssey.

Several millennia of the narrative arts have bequeathed to Asia Minor a dazzling treasury—creation myths, Babylonian stories, the Epic of Gilgamesh, Hittite tales, Biblical lore, Greek and Roman myths, Armenian and Byzantine anecdotes. The peninsulas mythical and historical ages nurtured dramatic accounts of deities, kings, heroes, and lovers. Pagan cults, ancient faiths, the Greek pantheon, Judaism, Roman religion, Christianity, Islam, mystical sects, and diverse spiritual movements left behind an inexhaustible body of legends and moralistic stories that survived throughout the centuries in their original forms or in many modified versions.

Anatolia witnessed—and took delight in narrating—the episodes of Zeus, the wealth of Croesus, Alexander’s cutting the Gordian knot, Darius’s building a bridge of rafts across the Bosphorus, and Leonardo da Vinci’s contemplating a bridge linking Asia and Europe. It reveled in the escapades of the Argonauts in quest of the Golden Fleece, the dramas of the Trojan War, the touch of Midas, the adventures of the Amazons, Leander’s swimming the Hellespont toward Hero, and Medea’s murderous vengeance as well as the fertility rites of Cybele and the dithyrambic rituals of Dionysus.

If Carl Jung’s “collective unconscious” has any validity, the memories of Byzas’s founding Byzantium across the “land of the blind,” Xenophon’s marching with the Ten Thousand, Belisarius’s fighting an ancient Moby Dick, Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat, Nemesis’s wreaking her vengeful havoc, Endymion in his eternal sleep, Xerxes’ relentlessly pressing forward, Anacreon’s turning out his lovely lyrics, Achilles and Agamemnon in their heroics, Julius Caesar’s emerging victorious to return to Rome with the triumphant slogan “Veni, vidi, vici,” and so many other recollections and legends must still be alive in the Anatolian mind. That mind recalls and reveres the names of Virgin Mary, St. Paul, St. Peter, and St. Nicholas (later Santa Claus). It evokes Pericles, Hannibal, Hadrian, Augustus, Brutus—and Antony and Cleopatra.

The history of Asia Minor reverberates with countless vivid accounts left on monuments, temples, stelae, walls, and rocks, and also in the vivid books written by Herodotus, Strabo, Thucydides, Pausanius, Procopius, and a distinguished array of other historians. The Anatolian gallery is also peopled by Constantine, Justinian, and Theodora, who stand out as the most dramatic figures of Byzantine history, and . . .

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