Translating the Ottoman Novel

with Melih Levi

hosted by Zoe Griffith

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Emerging as a literary genre towards the end of the nineteenth century, the Ottoman novel has been overshadowed by the transformation of the Turkish language and alphabet after 1928. In this episode, we speak with Melih Levi about his recent English translation with Monica Ringer of one the first examples of the Ottoman novel, Ahmed Midhat Efendi's Felatun Bey and Rakım Efendi (Syracuse University Press, 2016). Far from a derivative imitation of European literary themes and forms, Ahmed Midhat's novel revolves both seriously and playfully around the concepts of ala franga and ala turca, cajoling and instructing its readers on how live as authentically "modern" Ottomans in a rapidly modernizing empire. Published in 1875, the novel opens windows onto the Ottoman family, slavery, masculinity, and social orders, as well as literal and psychological relations with Europe in nineteenth-century Istanbul. 

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Melih Levi received his BA in English Literature from Amherst College and will be starting his PhD in Comparative Literature at Stanford in the Fall. His work focuses on divergent modernisms, transcultural poetics and prosody. 
Zoe Griffith is a doctoral candidate in History at Brown University working on political economy and governance in Egypt and the Ottoman Mediterranean. Zoe is a co-curator of the OHP series on legal history in the Ottoman Empire and Islamic world.   


Episode No. 261
Release Date: 23 August 2016
Recording Location: ANAMED, Istanbul
Editing and production by Chris Gratien
Sound excerpts: Katibim (Uskudar'a Gider iken) - Safiye AylaEgil Daglar Ustunden Asam - Viktoriya HanimHarmandali - Recep Efendi, Cemal Efendi
Bibliography courtesy of Melih Levi


Felâtun Bey and Râkım Efendi
Translated by Melih Levi and Monica M. Ringer
Syracuse University Press, 2016
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and Modernity.” CIRA Bulletin 13, no 1 (March 1997): 19-22.

Yazgıç, Kamil. Ahmet Mithat Efendi: Hayatı ve Hatıraları. Istanbul: Tan Matbaası, 1940.


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