Turkish Literature: Comprising Fables, Belles-Lettres and Sacred Traditions

Turkish Literature: Comprising Fables, Belles-Lettres and Sacred Traditions

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Turkish Literature: Comprising Fables, Belles-Lettres and Sacred Traditions

Turkish Literature: Comprising Fables, Belles-Lettres and Sacred Traditions

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The national literature of Turkey is something with which the European and American mind is by no means familiar, and, indeed, it has only recently become a distinctive feature in the world’s intellectual activity. Turkey is really an oriental country transplanted into a European environment, and the truest affinities of Turkey are with the far East, with Arabia and Persia. There are at least twenty-five written languages used in the Ottoman Empire, and Turkish is sometimes written in Arabian, sometimes in Persian characters, yet in spite of the babel of tongues which is found at Constantinople, the strong individuality of the Turk has manifested itself in literature as it has in politics and government, and there exists a considerable amount of epic and lyric poetry, drama, romance and apologue which is neither Arabian nor Persian, but is racy of the soil, the soil being principally that of Constantinople, where the Sultans, up to the present time, have been eminent patrons of the literary craft; some of them, Sultan Mustapha, for instance, in the sixteenth century, being writers of no mean accomplishments.

It is usual to divide the history of Turkish literature into three periods. the primitive literature of Turkey flourished between the years 1301 and 1520, during which time the Persian influence was paramount in the romantic and mystic productions of the Ottoman poets. the Shah-Nameh furnished many of the heroes to these Ottoman romances, and the forms of versification are all borrowed from Iran. “The Divan” and “History of the Forty Vezirs” belong to this period.

The middle period of Ottoman literature extends from 1520 to 1730. This is sometimes called the classic period, because in it the capabilities of the genuine Turkish language were tested, developed, and fixed. It opened with the reign of Suleyman I, whose splendid achievements, as a warrior by land and sea, won

Vol. 50—1

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