Introduction: Istanbul as a Cosmopolitan Literary Centre

In an article pubished in the journal Genç Kalemler in 1911, Ziya Gökalp wrote: “In our country there are also the literatures of Arabs, Armenians, Bulgarians, and Greeks in addition to the Turkish literature”.1 What Ziya Gökalp says on the country, even more so applies to its Capital, Istanbul. But until recently, the fact that the Ottoman Capital had been a centre of literary activity, not only for Muslim Turks, but also for many other communities, had almost been forgotten.

However, it is even a unique feature of this city, known under so many names by its inhabitants,2 that it became for certain periods the cultural centre for a great variety of ethnic and linguistic communities. As a matter of fact, Istanbul was not only the theatre of the literary activity of the communities mentioned by Ziya Gökalp, but also, as shall be seen, of that of Sephardic Jews, Albanians, Kurds, or Circassians. Even for the emergence of modern Persian literature, the Ottoman capital, where Akhtar (“Star”), one of the most influential Persian language papers was published 1876-1896, played a crucial role. Some of the works published in European languages (French), should have an enormous impact among Turkish intellectuals such as Mustafa Celâleddin Pasha´s (Konstanty Borzęcky; 1826-1876) Les Turcs anciens et modernes (1869) or Charles Mismer´s (1832&ndash1904) Soirées de Constantinople (1870).3

Very few cities in the Ottoman Empire could compete in this respect with the Capital which incessantly attracted people from all parts of this vast Empire. (The Karagöz plays and their protagonists show this graphically). The nineteenth Century Greek writer Christophoros Samartzides (1843-1900), author of one of the most interesting “Istanbul novels” (vide infra) compared it to “the Tower of Babel.” At that time, apart from Istanbul, only places like İzmir (for Greeks, Armenians, and Sephardic Jews) and Beirut (for Arabic literature) could be termed urban centres with a significant literary activity.

It goes without saying that only a small section of this activity can be presented here. Preference shall be given to pioneering works, be it in the framework of the “national” literatures or in another respect. There can be no doubt that Istanbul was at times an extraordinary seed-bed of new ideas, in particular during the Seventies of the Nineteenth Century, the years prior to the First Constitutional Period (1876), after the Young Turkish Revolution (1908) or the Years of the Armistice (1918-1923). Many writers and intellectuals who later became famous in Bulgaria, Greece, Kurdistan, the Arab countries or even Afghanistan had spent their formative years in the Ottoman Capital.

The Beginnings: After the Conquest

It is true that after the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks, most of the surviving Greek men of letters left the City and emigrated mainly to Italy. Bringing with them the precious texts of the classical authors, they had a great share in initiating the movement of the Renaissance in Europe.

But there were notable exceptions such as Kritovoulos of Imbros (d. 1470) who sided with the new Turkish ruler. He composed in Greek a History in five books, whose main part concerns the reign of Mehmed II, to whom the work was also dedicated. It is one of the principal and most accurate narrative sources for that period.4 Moreover, the original manuscript has been preserved in Istanbul in the library of the Topkapı Palace– a unique case! It was eventually “rediscovered” in the nineteenth Century and even printed in that city.5 It was eventually translated into Ottoman Turkish by Pavlos Karolidis (« Karolidi Efendi »; 1849–1930) from Endirlik, deputy for Izmir in the Ottoman Parliament in 1908, and published in 1912 under the title Tarih-i Sultan Mehmed Han-ı sâni as a supplement to the “Journal of the Society of Ottoman History” (Târih-i Osmanî Encümeni Mecmuası). This translation has even become a “classic” of which even simplified versions in modern Turkish are known.

The first Greek Orthodox Patriarch appointed by Mehmed II, the learned Georgios Scholarios (Gennadios II; c1405-c1473), who left numerous theological works,6 entered the annals of another literature. His so called “Confession” [İtikatname], exposé of the Christian faith written in 1455 or 1456 at the request of the Sultan, was also translated into Turkish, by the qadi Ahmed of Verroia [Karaferye] in Macedonia. This text, that has come down to us in Greek script, is conventionally regarded as the first specimen of “Karamanlı” (i.e. Turkish in Greek script) literature.7

Unsurprisingly, the Conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks inspired a number of elegies by non-Muslims.8 Among these, that of the Armenian Apraham of Ankara [Ankiwrac‘i], who had spent three months in Constantinople, is one of the best known. His Elegy on the Fall of Constantinople consisting of 392 lines was published several times and translated into a number languages including Turkish.9

The Sixteenth Century:
Hebrew and Judaeo-Spanish Pioneering Works

At the end of the fifteenth Century, under the reign of Bayezid II, Jews expelled from the Iberian Peninsula arrived in Istanbul where they began immediately a printing activity. This was the first time that printing made its appearance in the Ottoman Empire.10

Most works were then published in Hebrew. Up to a hundred titles (rabbinical literature; the Bible) were produced in Istanbul up to 1530 by a number of printers. Among these was Eliezer Soncino, from a distinguished Sephardic familiy of Italy. Between 1545–47, he printed the Pentateuch with Arabic and Persian translations and with translations into Greek and Spanish, the whole being printed in Hebrew characters.11 In particular the Greek version, of which one does not know whether it was prepared for this publication, is an extremely interesting text for the history of the Greek language. Eliezer Soncino also printed between 1534-1546 in Istanbul a Hebrew translation of an immensely popular Spanish chivalric novel, “Amadis of Gaul (Amadís de Gaula; 1508).12 This translation (actually only of some chapters) by the physician Jacob Algabe, of the endless adventures of the knight errant was the first secular work - and the first novel ! - written in the Hebrew language to be printed.13 Since the Sephardic Jews would actually have had no need of a Hebrew translation in order to read Amadís, the translation was apparently made for non-Spanish-speaking Jews in the Ottoman lands, or other countries. Unfortunately, Algabe’s translation project did not stimulate demand for a continuation and failed to establish a lasting trend. The European novel made a new appearance in Hebrew only in the nineteenth century, and this time in a different cultural environment.

Another pioneering work and at the same time one of the most interesting works on Istanbul written by a non-Muslim, also stems from an Ottoman Jew, Rabbi Moses Barukh Almosnino (c1510&ndashc1580). The work in question was not composed in Hebrew but in the ethnic langue of the Sephardic Jews, i.e. Spanish. Almosnino, a prolific author, was born at Salonika but died in Istanbul where he had been elected rabbi of the Neveh Shalom community. In 1566, the Jewish community of Salonica had sent him to Istanbul as the head of a delegation whose aim was to return tax privileges granted to Salonican Jewry. During this mission, Almosnino composed a manuscript La Kronika de los reyes otomanos (“The Chronicle of the Ottoman Kings”) which is partly a history of the Ottoman Empire, partly a travelogue and an account of the delegation’s visits to the capital. The third part (Memorial de algunos estremos) of Almosnino´s work presents the Ottoman capital in a very original way, as a world of “extremes”. Twenty six estremos are dealt with altogether, starting with the climate and ending with “reproduction” (generación). The book also contains descriptions of architectural momuments and of historical events under Soliman the Magnificent and Selim II. The work was never published in the Ottoman Empire. Part of it was transliterated into Latin characters and published under the title Extremosy Grandezas de Constantinopla in Madrid in 1638.14

Moses Almosnino’s work has to be considered as the first original narrative in the vernacular language produced by Sephardic Jews in the Ottoman Empire. Almosnino also wrote a homiletic in Judaeo-Spanish, Hanhagat ha-Îayyim - Regimiento de la Vida, which is written as a guide to a young relative about how one should live his life. An edition of this work in Latin script was published in Amsterdam in 1729.

The Seventeenth Century

Among the outstanding figures in Istanbul in the seventeenth century, one has to mention the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Cyril Lucaris and the Armenian historian, printer and poet Yeremia Chelebi Kömürjian (1637-95) whom Kevork Pamukciyan rightfully calls “the pride of Armenian literature” (Ermeni edebiyatının medar-ı iftiharı).

After Jews and Armenians,15 the Greeks were the third community to establish a printing press in the Istanbul, almost exactly one century before Ibrahim Müteferrika. This was achieved in 1627 by Nicodemus Metaxas from Cephalonia in collaboration with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Cyril I. Lucaris (1572–1638), a native of Crete. At the initiative of this Patriarch, the monk Maximos of Gallipoli (died 1633) also made (after 1629) the first translation of the New Testament into modern Greek for which the Patriarch wrote the preface. This revolutionary translation is an highly interesting work also from a literary point of view. Unfortunately, it could not be printed at the - extremely short-lived – Greek printing press in Istanbul. With the assistance of the Dutch ambassador in the Ottoman Capital it was printed at Geneva in 1638, the same as Cyril´s Confessio Fidei “written in Constantinople in March 1629”. Maximos’ New Testament was hardly used since the ”Calvinist” Patriarch Cyril Lucaris (he sympathized with the Reformation in Western Europe), was eventually executed due to the intrigues of his opponents.16 A New Testament in modern Greek continued to meet with fierce resistance.17 It was finally allowed only in 1924.

Whereas Patriarch Lucaris´ works have little to do with the city of Istanbul itself, the Ottoman Capital, its history, topography and even its natural desasters (fires),18 hold a truly prominent place in the numerous works written in both Armenian and Armeno-Turkish (Turkish in Armenian script), by Yeremia Chelebi Kömürjian.19 Yeremia Chelebi left several narrative poems with historical content. His rhymed “History of Istanbul”20 not only provides information on the history of Istanbul in the seventeenth century (between 1661 and 1684), it is also a description of the city and the life of its inhabitants, in particular – but not exclusively - the Armenians. Yeremia Chelebi, acting as a guide to a friend (identified as the vardapet Vartan) tours the city and its surroundings by sea and land. Examples of this kind of “city walk” can still be found among the works of Armenian writers in the nineteenth century (cf. Hagop Baronian´s “A walk in the quarters of Constantinople”; 188021). A lively panorama of Istanbul emerges from this work with minute geographical, ethnographical and topographical information, historical references, economic aspects, comical episodes etc. in a way reminiscent of Evliya Çelebi. Nor is it devoid of literary merit. Its language includes considerable Turkish vocabulary. Yeremia Chelebi also authored an equally rhymed “Four-Hundred-Year Concise History of the Ottoman Sultans”,22 the first Armenian history of the Ottoman Empire (until 1678), made up of 1, 811 couplets. He also left a diary (Oragrut‘iwn) which comprises the years 1648-62.

Other literary works of Yeremia Chelebi shed an interesting light on the multi-ethnic society of the Ottoman Capital and intercommunal relations. This is in particular the case of the rhymed story of “The Jewish Bride”, of which exists both an Armenian and a (considerably longer) Turkish version. The story “On the Albanian baker Dimo who fell in love with a Jewish maiden by the name of Mercada and preached Christ to her with holy inspiration, and the maiden consented to accompany the youth wherever he wished to go”, deals with the theme of love involving couples belonging to different religions and the triumph of love over religious obstacles. (We shall find this theme also with other works written by non-Muslims vide infra.). The work was apparently based on an episode that had actually occurred in Istanbul. The story formed part of the corpus of popular literature of non-Muslims in Istanbul since there is an equally very popular anonymous Greek version of it, first published in Venice in 1668, with many reprints until 1863.23

The Eighteenth Century: The Heyday of Phanariot Letters

In the eighteenth century, Istanbul was in the first place a centre for literary activity in Greek, especially in the Phanariot milieu. Several pioneering works were written in the Ottoman Capital during this period. Moreover, they took their inspiration to a great deal from the city.

The first one dates from what is known as the “Tulip Era” (Lâle Devri). “The leisures of Philotheos” (Philotheou Parerga; written in 1718; printed in Vienna in 180024) is the work of Nicholas Mavrocordato (1680-1730), Grand Dragoman of the Porte and hospodar of Moldavia. He was well known in learned circles in the West. The situation resembles that of Yeremia Chelebi´s History of Istanbul. Philotheos, the narrator and his friends start walking around on the Hippodrom [Atmeydanı] in Istanbul in summer 1715. In the course of the story they meet a variety of people, both Westerners and Turks, and this gives them the opportunity for reflections on all sorts of of topics, morals, politics and literature. It is therefore somewhat reminiscent of Montesquieu´s Lettres persanes published almost at the same period (1721). There is no love story, nor a real plot. Philotheou Parerga has been considered as “the first Greek Novel.”25 Despite its innovative character, it was written in an extremely archaic language.

Another work in Greek with strong links to the cosmopolitan milieu of Istanbul is “Eros´ results” (Erotos apotelesmata),26 a collection of three love stories by the Cypriot Ioannes Karatzas (1767&ndash1798) who has been identified as the author only recently. The first two stories take place in Istanbul, the third in Russia. In the first story, Çelebi Yorgaki, son of the kapıkehaya Kyr Antonaki meets the daughter of Chelebi Yakoumi in the gardens of Samatya. This story has a happy end due to the equal social standing of the two lovers. The love story of Andreas, the Corfiot dragoman of the Venetian ambassador, for the beautiful Hripsime, daughter of Stepan Agha, the Armenian director of the Imperial Mint (darphane), on the orther hand, ends in disaster due to the difference of religion and social standing. That type of conflict bears some resemblance to Romeo and Juliet describing the impossible love between two lovers whose families did not allow them to marry. It occurs also in other well-known works up to the twentieth century such as Hovhannes Hisarian´s “Khosrov and Makruhi” and Vartan Pasha´s “Story of Agapi” (Akabi Hikâyesi), the first Armenian novels (both published in 1851), or the history of Aimilios and Hermione in “Tymphristos” (pseudonym of Dimitrios Papadopulos; 1870-1930) “Pera Beauty” (Ōraia tu Peran; 1920).

Erotos apotelesmata is a pioneering work inasfar as it is the first example of original novellas [nuvel] in modern Greek fiction. The work contains dozens of love songs expressing the feelings of the protagonists where sometimes even the makam is indicated (isfahan, saba, evc, nihavend, nikriz, rast, segâh, etc.) Specimens of Phanariot poetry can also be found in the so called mismagiá (< Turkish mecmua), anthologies of poems by diverse authors. These were written in the Greek language of Istanbul, and occasionally include numerous Turkish words.27

This feature also characterizes another work of that period, the Bosporomachia,28 composed in 1752 by “Senior Momars” i.e. Caspar Ludwig Momarz (1696&ndash1761), first dragoman at the Austrian Embassy in Istanbul. In this allegorical poem, the two sisters Asia und Europe are disputing to which of them belongs the more beautiful shore of the Bosporus. This work awaits to be rediscovered as a historical and topographical source for Istanbul in the eighteenth century, especially for the geography of the Bosporus. It still evokes the Lâle Devri: the reader can find there descriptions of Saadabad, the buildings constructed by Grand Vizir Nevşehirli Ibrahim Pasha in Bebek and Bahçeköy, and of course of Kâğıthane on the Golden Horn. The Bosporomachia has been for a long time little appreciated in Modern Greece since it is a typical example of Constantinopolitan Phanariot literature. The editor, Evgenios Voulgaris (1716-1806) writes about this work in the introduction “that it may not be very interesting for readers from other states, but there can be no doubt that it will please the Greek inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire, and in particular those of Istanbul, the Konstantinupolites.”

Another Phanariot, the learned Athanasios Komnenos-Hypselantes [Komninos Īpsilanti] (? - 1789), private physician of the Grand-Vizir Koca Ragıp Pasha (1698-1763), is the author of a remarkable prose work. He compiled a universal chronicle of which parts have been published a century later in Istanbul under the title Ta Meta ten Halōsin (“The Events after the Conquest”; 1453-1789). The published part of the chronicle is rich in descriptions of events that took place in Istanbul in the eighteenth Century and which the author witnessed as a contemporary. Especially in these sections, numerous Turkish words occur. Its publication in Istanbul in 187029 has to be regarded as one of the major scholarly publications in Greek language that appeared in the city during the Ottoman period.

Mention should also be made of a curious specimen of popular literature, the “History of Stavrakis”. This long poem, whose author remains unknown, tells the story of the kapukehaya Stavrakis [Stavrakoğlu], and his cruel destiny: Stavrakis, who had acquired an immense fortune through bribery and extortion, was eventually hanged before his own palace in 1765 and his fortune was seized. The text was first published in Venice in 1767 and was regulary reprinted still in the ninteenth Century.30

The Ottoman capital, “i Polis”, continued to be present in Greek letters in the early nineteenth Century. This also becomes clear from the history of Greek literature by the Phanariot Jacovaky Rizo-Neroulos (1778-1850), published in 1827.31 Rizo-Neroulos, a writer and (Greek) politician, who was born and who died in Istanbul,32 has himself left several works of considerable interest in our context. His mock-heroic (hērōikokomikos) and somewhat frivolous poem, “The Rape of the Turkey-hen” (Kurkas arpagē; Vienna, 1816) describes a quarrel about a turkey stolen in the Therapia (Tarabya) neighbourhood on the Bosporus. His comedy “Korakistika33 or The Correction of the Romaic Tongue” (Korakistika, ē diorthōsis tēs Rōmaikēs Glōssas) written in 1811, and printed for the first time at a Greek printing press at the Mahmud Pasha Han in Istanbul in 1813, has become famous.34 Its chief target is “Koraism” (Korakistika = Koraistika), i.e. the linguistic theory of Adamantios Koraïs (Izmir 1748&ndashParis 1834), the creator of the katharevousa, and the tendency to have everything Hellenized: even to the Turkish name “Ahmed” is attributed a Hellenic origin (< echemēdes = “smart“)! The protagonist of the play, Sotirios, is ridiculed for using this language. The milieu is very “Ottoman” presenting characters from Istanbul, Yannina [Yanya], Lesbos [Midilli], Chios [Sakız] and Cyprus who speak their local dialect.

Plays which make use of regional idioms and stereotypes continued to be composed, perhaps unsurprisingly, notably by Greek writers from Istanbul. These features were exploited to comic effects reminiscent of the Turkish Karagöz. The most famous example, and at the same time a landmark in the history of Greek theatre, is Dimitrios K. “Vyzantios” (i.e; the “Byzantine”; nom-de-plume of Istanbul-born Dimitrios Hatziaslanis; 1790-185335) comedy “Babel, or the regional corruption of the Greek language” (Hē Babylōnia, ē Hē kata topous diaphthora tēs hellēnikēs glōssēs 1836).36 But there are also less known works like the “farce” Ho Fisfisis by Anastasios Pnevmatikas37 where the protagonist, the Fisfisis, is a Karamanli who speaks in a mixed Turkish-Greek language.

Armenian Literary Life in Eighteenth Century Istanbul

Somewhat different was the literary activity of the Istanbul Armenians in the eighteenth century. The progress of Armenian printing was considerable during this period. Moreoever, the Armenians began to publish by that time their ancient literary heritage, both religious and secular, in the Ottoman Capital. They printed Saint Gregory of Narek (Krikor Narekac‘i; 951-1003)´s “Book of Prayers” (Girk‘ ałot‘ic‘; 1700), the works of Agathangelus (fourth century Historian of Roman origin), Faustus of Byzantium (fifth century historian), Yeghishē (fifth century historian), and Stepanos Orpelian (thirteenth century historian). The Armenian Bible was printed in Istanbul in 1705 (after having been published first in Amsterdam in 1666). An eminent figure in Armenian intellectual history, Mekhitar [Mıhitar] of Sivas (Mkhit‘ar Sebasdac‘i; 1676-1749), founder of the religious order who was to bear his name, left the city after having published four religious works there. He had founded his new order, whose contribution to the Armenians´ cultural renaissance was to be extraordinary,38 in 1701 in Beyoğlu where he had arrived in 1697.

Among the Armenian Patriarchs of Constantinople mention should be made of Patriarch Golod (1678-1741), an active translator of religious works from Latin and Italian, and Patriarch Hagop Nalian (1706-1764) who, as a poet, even composed Turkish verses with the mahlas “Nihadî”.39 The most original figure among the Armenian men of letters in Istanbul was Baghdassar Tbir (ca. 1683-1768) who was born and died in the city where he taught philosophy and language. During his lifetime he was known as a poet, one of the last representatives of the native tradition. He has also left prose-works in Armeno-Turkish (including his “precepts of Christian teaching”; 174240) or poems in both Armenian and Turkish. Most of his works were printed at the press where he worked, that of Asdvadzadur (“Astuacatur Kostandnupolsec‘i”).

A New Type of Judaeo-Spanish Literature

For the Jewish community, the eighteenthcentury saw the birth of a new literary tradition with the publication of the first parts of an encyclopedic Bible commentary in the vernacular language, known by its Hebrew title Me’am Lo’ez (litt. “from a people of strange tongue,” a quotation from Psalms 114.1). It is considered by some as a unique work, with no equivalent in any other Jewish language.41 The Me’am Lo’ez was the brainchild of Jacob Culi (Yaakov Khuli; 1689–1732), descendant of a family of illustrious scholars, who had arrived from Safed in Istanbul in 1714 to serve as a rabbinical judge. Concerned about the spiritual welfare of a community still suffering from the effects produced by the Sabbatean movement of the previous century, Culi undertook a massive enterprise of public education, of which Me’am Lo’ez was a chief instrument. Only the first parts of the commentary were completed by Culi himself. The first volume, on Genesis, appeared in Istanbul in 1730. For more than one and a half century, other scholars were engaged in completing Culi’s work. The last part was published in 1901.

The Nineteenth Century: The Rise of Modern Literatures

The most interesting period in the cosmopolitan and polyglot literary life of the Ottoman Capital begins in the nineteenth century.

This period is known, also in the field of literature, as that of Westernization. A number of literatures, not only that of the Ottoman Turks, then started gradually to abandon traditional models and to adopt new forms and genres (novel, drama). This was a complex process. For certain communities, it also implied the search for a new literary language, provoking a conflict between Anciens et Modernes. nineteenth century Istanbul witnessed the birth of Modern (Western) Armenian, where the classical variant (krapar) became more or less obsolete towards the end of the century, despite the desperate efforts of the Mekhitarists in Vienna and Venice and their followers to restore the classical language. Also Bulgarian, where the first book was printed in 1805, had rapidly become a fully developped literary language, with a flourishing press and an intense publishing activity. This activity was limited in the Ottoman lands until 1878 almost exclusively to the Capital.42We also see the development of a press in Judaeo-Spanish in Istanbul (and other cities of the Empire), which was instrumental for an extremely variegated literary, predominantly translation activity in the ethnic language of the Sephardic Jews.

This development had become possible to a great extent due to the extraordinary progress of printing and publishing, and the growth of the reading public.

Modern Literature and the Press

Many pioneering works appeared first in the columns of a periodical published in Istanbul, such as the first Armenian novel, Hovhannes Hisarian´s (1827-1916), Khosrov ew Mak‘ruhi.43 This novel, the tragic love story of Khosrov and Makruhi, was published in a serial in the author´s own periodical, the “Philologist” (Banasēr) in 1851. Some decades later, epoch-making Armenian novels appeared in papers like Arevelk (“Orient”; founded 1884),44 Hayrenik (“Fatherland”, 1891-1896),45 or Püzantion (“Byzantium”; 1896-1918).46

Translations from Western languages were serialized in the minority press already in the 1840ies, in papers like the Greek Tēlegraphos tou Bosphoru (“The Bosporus Telegraph” founded 1843), or the Bulgarian Tsarigradski Vestnik (“Constantinople Gazette”; 1848-1861). For the Armenians, Masis (“Ararat”) founded in 1852, was to play a leading role. Translated novels were also regularly serialized in the Karamanlı paper Anatoli (established in Istanbul since 1850). Modern Judaeo-Spanish literature, which was to remain to a large extent translated literature,47 was serialized in papers like El Tiempo (founded in 1872), the longest-running Judaeo-Spanish newspaper in Istanbul. One of its collaborators, Elia Carmona (1869-1932), a native of Istanbul, was an extremely prolific author, who alone accounts for a great many of the five hundred or so “novels” (usually translations or adaptations) known to have been published in Judaeo-Spanish. These writers became immensely popular. David Fresco (Istanbul 1850 - Nice 1933), printer in Galata, and director of five Judaeo-Spanish papers in the course of his career, was for a moment, if we have to believe a contemporary « si populaire que des rives du Bosphore aux rives du Danube et sur tout le littoral de l´Archipel et de la Méditeranée, il n´y a pas d´Israélite plus connu en Orient »48

Literary Journals

Apart from newspapers, magazines, literary supplements etc., there were also literary journals whose number increased considerably after the middle of the century.

In principle, each community had its proper periodicals. The first attempt to create a forum for all literatures present in Istanbul (including Turkish literature) was made by Adolphe Thalasso (1859–1919) with the French language journal, La Revue orientale (1885-1886). This remarkable effort was, however, short-lived and the Revue orientale had to cease publication due to financial problems.49

The Greeks had the journal of the Syllogos (vide infra), an annual publication, which was, however, more “philological” than “literary”.50 In general, it was true what Alexandra Papadopoulou (1867-1906) of Hasköy, the first female prose-writer in Modern Greek literature with an impressive ouput of some hundred-forty stories, said on the literary taste of Istanbul Greeks: “The only knowledge that our learned men possess….is that of the classical literature of the Ancients, and a little bit foreign literature”51 One had to wait for the end of the 19th Century to see the publication of a more up-to-date Greek literary journal, the “Literary Echo” [Edebiyat Sadası] (Philologikē Echō; 1893-97) founded by Nikos Phaliréas (« Phalère Bey »; pseud. « Amouryanos » ; 1863&ndash1927), of which Alexandra Papadopoulou was an active collaborator. The Philologikē Echō saw the beginning of the career of the well-known Greek poet Yannis Grypares (1871-1942) of Siphnos. Similar Greek periodicals in favour of demoticism were published in Istanbul after the Young Turkish Revolution and during the Years of the Armistice.

For the Bulgarians, the “Bulgarian Papers” (Bŭlgarski Knizhitsi; 1858-1862) of the “Society for Bulgarian Literature” (vide infra), had been particularly attractive for the new Bulgarian intelligentsia. At the height of its popularity it had as many as 600 subscribers.52

The Armenians had numerous, sometimes outstanding literary journals, in particular during the last years of the Ottoman period, like Vosdan (“Capital”, began in 1911; ceased publication in 1922; publication suspended: 1913-1918.) or Chanth [Şant] (“Thunderbolt”; 1911-1915; 1916-1918 ; 1918-1919) one of the first Armenian illustrated journals. A revolutionary, new trend in Armenian literature was inaugurated by the short lived Mehian (“Temple”), published at the eve of the World War I (January-July 1914). The “Mehian” literary group included several outstanding writers and poets, in particular the poet Daniel Varuzhan (born Chibukiarian), who was savagely assassinated in 1915.53 The purpose of this movement was, among other things, to reconnect Armenian literature to its Pre-Christian, pagan past.

Literary Societies

Some of the above-mentioned periodicals were issued by literary societies. These were usually created by the different communities with the explicit objective to promote language and literature.54 The most famous of them was the “Greek Literary Society in Constantinople” (Ho en Kōnstantinupolei Hellēnikos Philologikos Syllogos) founded in 1862, which had mo equivalent in the Greek Kingdom. It still aroused the admiration of Muallim Cevdet [İnançalp; 1883-1935].55 But even less prestigious societies could mark a turning point in the history of the respective languages and literatures such as the “Society for Bulgarian Literature” (Obshtina na bǔlgarskata knizhnina) founded by Dragan Tsankoff (1828-1911) of Svishtov [Ziştova] and two merchants in Istanbul in 1856, or the “Society for the publication for Albanian Writing” (Shoqëri e të shtypurit shkronja shqip) known as Cemiyet-i ilmiye-i Arnavudiyye in Turkish, founded in Istanbul in 1879.56 A similar role was played by the Kurdish Students’ Association Hêvi (« Hope ») founded in 1912 and its two important journals, Rojî Kurd (« The Kurdish Sun” 1913), and Hetawi Kurd (“Kurdish Light”; 1913-1914). The association also saw among its main objectives “to make efforts to organize Kurdish language and literature, and to publish it under the form of books and to develop it.”57

The Role of Schools and Colleges

A new elite was trained at the modern schools and colleges created by the Ottoman government or the missionaries in Istanbul. These institutions produced a number of remarkable writers among the different communities. Many Bulgarian men of letters, for example, were graduates, occasionally even teachers of the Ottoman lycée of Galatasaray (founded 1868), or Robert College (todays Boğaziçi Üniversitesi), founded by the American missionaries (1863). Konstantin Velichkoff of Pazardjik (1855 - 1907), is a characteristic example. He was a graduate of the lycée of Galatasaray where he received a largely French education. At the age of eighteen, he translated together with an other Galatasaraylı, Victor Hugo´s Lucrèce Borgia (Ist. 1872) into Bulgarian and, in the following year, Pushkin´s Rusalka (Ist. 1873). His own drama - and at the same the first Bulgarian drama ! - “Nevianka and Svetoslav, was published in 1874. It had been staged in February 1872 in the Osmanlı Tiyatrosu in Gedikpaşa and the performance had been attended by the eminent Ottoman historian Ahmed Cevdet Pasha (1822-1895), a native of Lovech in Northern Bulgaria who knew the language well. Between 1891 and 1894, Velichkoff worked once again at the Bulgarian Exarchate in Istanbul. This period was particularly fruitful since he then composed most of his 49 “Istanbul Sonnets” (Tsarigradski Soneti; 1899) which earned him the rank of one of first masters of the sonnet in Bulgarian.58 He also wrote “Reminiscences and Impressions of Tsarigrad” (Văzpominaniya i vpečatleniya ot Tsarigrad).

The American Missionaries

The American missionaries whose activity in Istanbul started in the 1830s, took an active part, both in the elaboration of modern written languages (Armenian, Bulgarian, Albanian etc.) and by providing a new type of reading material which was by far not limited to translations of the Bible into the vernacular languages where frequently eminent men of letters were involved. The first complete edition of the Bible in Modern Bulgarian, known as the “Istanbul Bible” (Tsarigradskata Bibliya), was translated by a group of translators including missionaries, under the direction of Petko Slaveykoff (1827-1895), the most active Bulgarian writer in Istanbul,59 and at the same time the first Bulgarian poet of real literary distinction. The entire translation was printed by A. H. Boyajian in Istanbul in 1871 and was of great importance for the establishment of the east Bulgarian vernacular as the common language.

Quality and Intensity of Literary Activity in Istanbul and Its Significance for the Literatures of the Various Communities

The literary activity of other communities in Istanbul varied in quality and intensity, and also in the degree of Westernization.

Some literatures reached European standards. They followed, after a “romantic” phase, closely the major trends and currents such as realism and symbolism, whereas others were, in this respect, only in an incipient stage. Just to give an example: prose writings, novels, both original and translated, had become widespread among the Armenians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Jews and other communities in Istanbul after the middle of the nineteenth Century. But only one single prose story – albeit the first of its kind ! – was published in Kurdish in Istanbul during the Ottoman period, Çîrok (“Story”) by Fuad Temo in the paper Rojî Kurd (« The Kurdish Sun ») in 1913.60 Translations from Western languages into Kurdish were inexistant.

For certain writers, the discovery of the West and its literary legacy took place via Ottoman-Turkish. This is true for a number of Persian writers in Istanbul in the entourage of the paper Akhtar, and this experience was made by the Afghan writer Mahmūd Óarzī (1865-1933), a key-figure of Afghani modernism.61 The twenty years he spent between Damascus62 and Istanbul at the end of the 19th Century had given him the opportunity to come into contact with European culture. Several of Jules Verne´s novels such as Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours; Vingt mille lieues sous les mer ; L’Île mystérieuse, were translated by Mahmud Óarzī from their Turkish versions into Persian! In other works, published later in Kabul, we find translations from Ottoman authors that had appeared in journals such as Ahmed Midhat Efendi’s Kırkanbar or Mustafa Reşid’s Envar-ı zekâ. The city of Istanbul left a deep impression on Mahmud Óarzī. His encounter with Jamāl-al-Din Afghāni in Istanbul (1897) was a decisive moment in his intellectual education: “seven months of conversations are worth seven months of traveling”. Mahmud Tarzī also wrote a travelogue of which extracts appeared in other works authored by him. A poem describing an evening spent on the charming shores of the Bosporus is contained in his Az har dahan suxanī, va az har čaman samanī .63

From the perspective of “National” literatures, it cannot be said that Istanbul played the same role for all literatures in the modern period. Whereas it is inseparable from Armenian literature - it can be even said that Modern Western Armenian Literature was born in the Ottoman Capital64Modern Greek literature was to have its centre in Athens after the foundation fo the Greek Kingdom. (In national histories of Greek literature very few writers from Istanbul are usually quoted for the 19th Century. Among the Greek poets of Istanbul, only Elias Tantalides (1818-1817) found his way into the histories of Greek literature). It should also be remembered that even during the Ottoman period, due to various factors, including the lack of printing facilities,65 the diaspora had played an extremely important role for Greek literature. Nearly all books in Greek were printed or published in Venice, Vienna, Leipzig or other places, even classical specimens of “Istanbul literature” such as Nicholas Mavrocordato´s Philotheou Parerga, or the Bosporomachia. Istanbul remained a centre of Greek erudition thanks to the Syllogos and other institutions.

For the Armenians, who did not have such a homeland, the Mekhitarist fathers in Western Europe had had a similar function for a while. Important works on the history and the topography of the city of Istanbul, written by members of this congregation (e.g. Lucas Injijian [Ğugas İnciciyan], 1758-183366) in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth Century, were published in Venice or Vienna. Even after the emergence of an extremely rich and variegated Armenian printing and literary activity in Istanbul, the Mekhitarists, most of them natives of Istanbul, continued to exert their influence.

Bulgarian literature flourished only a few decades in Istanbul prior to the foundation of the principality (1878).67 The new state (especially after having annexed Eastern Rumelia) was then to attract all men of letters and to absorb, like the Greek kingdom, nearly all literary activity. But during the most crucial phase of the development of the Bulgarian language and literature (which belongs to the period of the Vŭzrazhdane – the National Revival), the city was the principal centre with no competitor in the Bulgarian lands themselves. There was a very active, often revolutionary publishing activity by Bulgarian political emigrés in Serbia, Romania and other countries.68 But even a writer like Vasil Drumeff (1840-1901), a clergyman and politician who spent most of his life abroad until 1878, had his “A woeful family” (Neshtastna familiya), “a Bulgarian popular story” which was at the same time the first Bulgarian attempt at novel writing, published in the journal Bǔlgarski knizhitsi in Istanbul in 1860.69

Istanbul could even be regarded, with some justification, as the cradle of modern Albanian literature. It was in Istanbul that a common alphabet was devised for the first time, the so-called “Istanbul alphabet” (Alfabeti i Stambollit) created by Şemseddin Sami (1850-1904).70 The first Albanian newspaper in the Ottoman Empire, Drita (“The Light”), issued by the Shoqëri e të shtypurit shkronja shqip (vide supra) was also published in Istanbul. The city would also have had the potential to become the centre of a flourishing literary activity - similar to that in Armenian ! -, thanks to the presence of eminent figures like Şemseddin Sami (“Samy-Bey Fraschery”), or his brother, Naim Bey who is regarded as the “National Poet” of Albania, the founder of the national literature and of the national literary language today. But the restrictive policy of the authorities prevented such a development. Whereas non-Muslims were relatively free in their literary activity, at least as far as the choice of the language was concerned, there is the paradoxical phenomenon that Muslim writers using their vernacular as a literary language instead of the “canonical” languages Arabic, Persian or Turkish met with serious difficulties. This is true especially for the last decades of the Ottoman period under Abdülhamid II. Naim Bey (Frashëri 1846-1900), who spent the greatest part of his life as a civil servant in Istanbul, could publish his translation of the first book of the Iliad (into Turkish), his “Fantasies” (Takhayyulāt; 1884) in Persian, and even works in Greek (poems, a Turkish grammar) in the Ottoman capital. But he was compelled to publish the works he had composed in his native language - and to which he eventually owes his greatest fame - abroad, and usually without using his full name.

Similarly, Kurdish men of letters could only benefit from a few short periods of relative freedom - after the Young Turkish Revolution (1908), and during the Years of the Armistice (Mütareke Yılları) - to become active in the Ottoman Capital. The experience they made during their residence in istanbul, the contact with the city and its cosmopolitan environment, however left a deep impression on them and stimulated them. The apostle of modern Kurdish nationalism, Haji Qadirî Koyi (1817 ? - 1897), developed his nationalist ideas while spending the last two decades of his life in Istanbul.71 It was in Istanbul that he became acquainted with the poetry of Ahmed-i Khânî (1651-1707) and the national epic Mem û Zin. In the Ottoman Capital, he experienced the importance of journalism for the political struggle. These thoughts and ideas were also expressed in the poetry he wrote during the years he lived there until his death in 1897. Haji Qadirî Koyi is considered as one of the greatest Kurdish poets. Examples of his poetry were published in 1898 in the first Kurdish newspaper, Kurdistan, which had however to be published abroad, in Cairo.

Many Kurdish intellectuals used Ottoman Turkish in their writings. It was also the language which dominated in the Kurdish press in Istanbul which was usually bilingual. The picture emerges from the literary activities of Circassians and other Caucasian writers in Istanbul. The first periodial with texts in Circassian was Ghuaze («The Guide»), mouthpiece of the “Circassian Association for Union and Mutual Aid” (Çerkes İttihad ve Teavün Cemiyeti).72 appeared in Istanbul in 1911.The magazine Diyane (“Our Mother”) of the “Circassian Women´s Mutual Aid Society” (Çerkes Kadınları Teavün Cemiyeti) published in Ottoman Turkish and Circassian-for the latter language for the first time the Latin script was used ! - in 1920.

After the foundation of the Turkish Republic, which put, except for the non-Muslim minorities in Istanbul, an end to literary activity in other languages than Turkish, many Kurdish intellectuals and writers - the same as Greeks and Bulgarians before - left the city. Those who returned to their homelands in South-Kurdistan such as “Pîremerd” (Süleymaniyeli Tevfik; 1867-1950), a Kurdish poet who had come to Istanbul already at the end of the ninetinth century, Muhammad Amin Zaki (1880-1948) or Tawfiq Wahby (1891-1984), were going to play an important role in the cultural life there.

The City of Istanbul in Other Literatures

How important was the City itself for the literary production of the various communities ? How and to what extent did it appear in these works ?

Istanbul occurs in a variety of literary genres: poems, plays, chroniques and novels. The Bosporus inspired many poets, Greeks and Bulgarians as well as Iranians and Arabs. Plays, usually comedies, satirized, as has been seen, the multi-ethnic and multilingual society of the Ottoman Capital. But it is the novel, where the impact of the city can be expected to be the most conspicuous one.

Translated literature popular among the reading public in Istanbul in the nineteenth century was made up to a great extent of novels showing life in big cities, in particular in the French capital, the city “par excellence”. Eugène Sue´s Les Mystères de Paris (1842-43) inaugurated a new genre, the “City mysteries” genre. In that kind of novels, characters explore the secret underworlds of cities and reveal corruption and exploitation, depicting violence and deviant sexuality.73 Novels inspired by “The Mysteries of Paris” were also published in Istanbul and led to works that could be termed “Istanbul novels”.74 The Ottoman Greeks were the first to produce novels in this vein: The «Mysteries of Constantinople» (Apokrypha Kōnstantinoupoleōs, 3 parts., Istanbul 1868-69) by Christophoros Samartzides of Lefkada (1843-1900), are perhaps the most typical example.75 They were visibly inspired by Sue´s novel even if the author himself prefers to refer to Shakespeare in the introduction. The novel describes the city during the 1840ies and 1850ies and the changes brought about by the Crimean War. The Apokrypha are characterized by a precise knowledge of the city´s topography, in particular of Péra. Samartzides never refers, however, to Saint Sophia or to the mosques of Istanbul. The Turkish population is more or less absent, a phenomen that we can still observe in twentieth century works like G. Theotokas´ Leonis (1940) or Maria Iordanidou´s Loxantra (1963). Samartzides´ Apokrypha Kōnstantinoupoleōs were quite successful in the Ottoman environment. They were even translated by Petko Slaveikoff into Bulgarian.76

At the end of the century, “The Mysteries of Pera” (Les Mystères de Péra) by Jacques Loria (1860 - 1948), a novel of some 1000 pages, written in French seem to have had a tremendous success..77 The novel was issued between 5 January and 16 July 1897 in 56 numbers of 16 pages. It tells very little about Pera and resembles rather a detective story. The author, a native of Istanbul, was a teacher of the Alliance Israélite Universelle which played such an important role for the dissemination of French language and culture among the Ottoman Jews. His literary career may be regarded as typically «Ottoman»: He wrote works in French, Judaeo-Spanish, and Turkish.78 As far as the Mystères de Péra are concerned, they seem to have been preceded by a similar novel in German (published in the paper Osmanische Post), and a Greek novel by Ep. C. Kyriakides (Ta Apokrypha tou Peran, 1889) of which a Karamanlı version appeared in Evangelinos Misailidis´ Anatoli.

Probably none of the aforementioned works could be considered as a successful example of the “City mysteries” genre. But one has to take into account that due to censorship and other restrictions, its characteristical features could be elaborated only with difficulty in works which were published in Istanbul.

It is perhaps for this reason that some of the more interesting “Istanbul Novels” were published abroad such as Stephanos Xenos´ (1821-1893), The Devil in Turkey or Scenes in Constantinople (London, 1851),79 or Alphonse Royer´s (1803-1875) Les Janissaires (Paris, 1844). These novels describe the situation and atmosphere in Istanbul at the time of the Destruction of the Janissairies by Mahmud II (1826). Xenos, a native of Izmir, had “commenced this undertaking on the beautiful shores of the Bosporus”. His objective was ambitious: “… to make known…. the condition, the customs and sentiments of the different tribes of that Empire, both before and after the Reformation” (i.e. of Sultan Mahmud). Royer a French writer, had been in Istanbul during the 1826 revolt of the Janissaries80 and later wrote an account of it in this novel, of which a Bulgarian version was serialized in the Tsarigradski Vestnik.81 Eventually, there is the voluminous novel Halet Efendi by Constantin Ramphos of Chios (1776-1871), which gives a description of the situation between 1811 and 1823.82

A special case is Ho Polypathes (“The man of many sufferings”; 1839) by Grigorios Paleologos (c1794&ndashc1847). This Greek author, a native of Istanbul (who also died in his native city) had studied in Europe. In Paris, he published a series of dialogues under the title Esquisses des moeurs turques au XIXe siècle (“Sketches of Turkish customs in the 19th Century”). His novel Ho Polypathes is reminiscent of Voltaire´s Candide. It tells the story of the lawyer Alexander Favinis, son of a dragoman at the French Embassy in Istanbul. Both Favinis´ childhood and adolescence in Istanbul are described in the book, and his travels in Europe and his captivity with pirates from Barbary. This novel, had been forgotten for a long time, although it is, if we except Philotheou parerga, the first essay of a complete novel in Greek literature. Paradoxically, the novel seems to owe its rediscovery to a great extent to the Karamanlı adaptation by Evangelinos Misailidis (1820-1889) (who omits to mention that it is a translated work) which appeared under the title “The Spectacle of the World and The Tyrant and the persecuted” (Temaşa-i Dünya ve Cefakâr ve Cefakeş) in 1871-72 in Istanbul.83 Misailidis´ adaptation, regarded as the first “Turkish novel” for a while,84 allows us to discover new aspects of the Ottoman capital: lunatics asylums, the world of prostitution and the places of entertainment. Thanks to Misailidis´modifications, this picaresque novel becomes a truly “Ottoman” novel.

It has to be stressed that Istanbul is more conspicuous in the literary production of the three major millets, - Greeks, Armenians and Jews - than in that of Bulgarians, Albanians, or Kurds. In Modern Greek literature, the experience of the City has been for a long time inextricably linked with Istanbul (“Constantinople”). Works of Greek writers from Istanbul like Alexandra Papadopoulou are also essentially of urban character. The female protagonists in her stories usually belong to middle-class Greek women in Istanbul. Also Western Armenian literature was for a long time an essentially urban literature. The principal authors were often natives of Istanbul and their literary creation was based on life and problems in that city. Realist authors did not hesitate to expose the darker side of life in late 19th century Istanbul. The countryside hardly played any role - a feature it shared with Ottoman Turkish literature. There were the Armenian immigrants from Anatolia (panduxt) in the Capital, and some writers were concerned about their plight. “Hrant” [i.e. Melkon Gürjian] (1859 - 1915) devoted much of his literary activity to the description of the miserable life of these unfortunates (e.g. in the series of articles on thrit life. “Panduxti keankên”, published in Masis). The discovery of the life in the Eastern provinces started relatively late in Western Armenian literature85 even though this happened somewhat earlier than in Turkish literature. The issue was a matter of concern for the literary community of Istanbul and Masis asked in 1900 its readers:”Is Constantinople, as the principal centre of the intellectual life of the Armenians in Turkey, capable of giving birth to that literature [i.e. provincial literature] in all itsfullness and perfection ?”86

In the major Bulgarian literary works published in Istanbul until 1878, the city played a less important role. This is perhaps unsurprising given that almost all Bulgarian writers had come from their native country to the capital. It is from there that they usually took their inspiration. In a famous and emblematic poem by Petko Slaveykoff, “The Spring of the White-Legged” (Izvorŭt na Belonogata; 1873),87 the Bulgarian girl Gergana defends her Bulgarian home against the Turkish vizier´s grandiloquent offers and remains unimpressed by the charms of a prospective life in Istanbul. Nostalgia for the home country even transpires from Velichkoff´s abovementioned “Istanbul sonnets”. Curiosity and interest for the Ottoman Capital is more obvious in the choice of translated works, such as Royer´s “Janissaries” serialized under the title Eničerete in the Tsarigradski Vestnik, or the translation of Samartzides´ “Mysteries of Constantinople”. Even the first cooking book in Bulgarian was, interestingly enough, based on the cuisine of Istanbul!88 In order to see how the Bulgarians experienced the city we have to go through the considerable amount of autobiographical literature, where the memoirs of Doctor Christo Stambolski (1843-1932) from Kazanlık, wo lived for twenty-five years in the Ottoman capital, first as a student and later as a professor at the prestigious Medical School (Mekteb-i tıbbiye) deserve particular attention.89

A similarly disctanced attitude can be observed with certain Albanian and Kurdish writers. Naim Frashëri’ s celebrated “Herds and Crops” (Bagëti e bujqësija, Bucharest 1886), is a pastoral poem where the poet expresses his dissatisfaction with city life, while he is idealizing the Albanian countryside and rural life. Similarly, Bardha de Témal (Paris, 1890), the first “Albanian Novel” (although it is written in French) by the Albanian catholic Pashko Vasa (Wassa Efendi, later Pasha; 1825-1892), a civil servant of the Ottoman Empire, who even became governor general of the Lebanon in 1883, is not set in Istanbul but in Shkodra [İşkodra] in Northern Albania. “Çirok”, the first Kurdish prose work, tells a story about the son of the village shepherd. The ambivalent attitude is perhaps best expressed by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (1875-1960), known as Said-i Kürdî during his stay in the Ottoman Capital, and who occasionally wrote articles in Kurdish.90 For him, Istanbul was like “poisonous honey” (zehirli bal).91




1 Moreover, he stresses that “Turks do not compel any nation to abandon their language and literature.” (cf. Genç Kalemler, vol. 2, no 2 (Abpril 27, 1327); reprinted in Genç kalemler Dergisi, ed. by İsmail Parlatır and Nurullah Çetin, Ankara: Türk Dil Kurumu, 1999, p. 108).

2 Istanbul is usually referred to as Istanbul by Turks, but many other names were in spoken and written usage during the Ottoman period. They also appear on the title pages of books printed in the various languages of this city. The most popular term used by Arabs in the nineteenth Century was al-Āstāna, Greeks were accustomed to speak of Konstantinupolis or simply I Polis (“The City”), likewise the Armenians referred to Gosdandnubolis or Bolis. For French speaking Levantines the Ottoman Capital was, of course Constantinople. Sephardic Jews called the city Konstantinopla or Kushta, Bulgars and Serbs Tsarigrad.

3 See J. Strauss, “Le livre français d´Istanbul (1730-1908)», Livres et lecture dans le monde ottoman, ed. Frédéric Hitzel [=Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée, 1999, vol. 87-88, pp. 277-301, pp. 300-301;. «İstanbul´da Basılan Fransızca Kitaplar», tr. Erol Üyepazarcı, Müteferrika, 2000, vol. 18, pp. 3–35].

4 See the critical edition by Diether Roderich Reinsch, Critobuli Imbriotae historiae, Berlin: de Gruyter, 1983. For an English translation see History of Mehmed the Conqueror, ed. and tr. Charles T. Rigg, Princeton: Princeton University Press,, 1954.

5 Kritovoulos´s History of Mehmed the Conqueror, and a French translation of it were printed in Istanbul around 1871 for the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The editor, Philipp Anton Dethier (1803-1881) was appointed director of the Imperial Museum of Antiquities (Müze-i hümayun) in 1872.

6 The complete works of Patriarch Gennadius were published in eight volumes by the Assumptionist fathers M. Jugie, Louis Petit and a distinguished Greek scholar in Istanbul, Xenophon A. Siderides (1851-1929). See Oeuvres complètes de Georges (Gennadios) Scholarios, Paris: Maison de la Bonne Presse, 1928–1930.

7 It was first printed in Martin Crusius´ Turco-Graeciae libri octo…., Basel: Leonardvm Ostenivm, Sebastiani Henricpetri impensa, 1584, book II, pp. 107-119 in both Latin and Greek characters, along with the original Greek text and a translation into Latin. A version in Arab script was made in 1646 by one Mısırlı Yannaki for Matei Basarab, voyvode of Walachia (1632-1654). The Turkish text is also contained in the first printed Karamanlı book, the Apanthisma tēs christianikēs pisteōs-Gülzarı İmanı Mesihi (Istanbul, 1718).

8 See on these works Marios Philippides and Walter Hanak, The Siege and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, Historiography, Topography and Military Studies, London: Ashgate, 2011.

9 See A.K. Sanjian, “Two Contemporary Elegies on the Fall of Constantinople, 1453” Viator. Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 1970, vol. 1, pp. 223-261; for the Turkish version of this elegy see “Engürlü Rahip Apraham´ın Fetihnamesi”, in Kevork Pamukciyan,” Ermeni Kaynaklarından Tarihe Katkılar: İstanbul Yazıları, edited by Osman Köker, Istanbul: Aras Yayıncılık, 2002, pp. 50-60.

10 The first work was published in 1493, a four-volume edition of the Arba‘a Turim (“Four Rows”), which contain the standard code of Jewish law and practice.

11 It was published in Greek characters by Dirk C. Hesseling, Les cinq livres de la loi (Le pentateuque). Traduction en néo-grec publiée en caractères hébraïques à Constantinople en 1547, Leipzig: Otto Harrassowitz, 1897.

12 The chivalric novel Amadís de Gaula by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo (~1450&ndash1504), whose first versions go back to the fourteenth century, was one of the most popular works of fiction in the sixteenth century. Readers could not get enough of the exploits of its protagonist. Eventually, Cervantes wrote his Don Quixote as a parody of the genre.

13 ‘Alilot ha-abir = Amadiś de Gaula: Sefer kolel sipurim gedolim ve-nifla’im kemo ‘inyene milħamot u-gevurot me-anše ha-šem ve ‘isqe ahavah ve divre ha-yamim mi-melakhim gedolim, Istanbul, 301 (1541)

14 New edition under the title Crónica de los Reyes otomanes, ed. P. Romeu Ferré, Barcelona: Tirocinio, 1998.

15 Apkar Tbir (“Abgar the Clerk) of Tokat (T‘oxatec‘i), after having made his first essays in Italy, founded, as stated by an Armenian chronicler (Maghakia Jevahirjian), “during the second year of the reign of Sultan Selim, and during the forth year of Archbishop Hagop” a first Armenian Printing House in Istanbul in 1567.

16 Cyril Lucaris, George A. Hadjiantoniou, Protestant Patriarch. The Life of Cyril Lucaris (1572-1638), Patriarch of Constantinople, Richmond/Virginia: John Knox Press, 1961.

17 The next translator of the New Testament, the monk Seraphim of Lesbos (1667 - 1735), ended his life exiled to Siberia. In the 1830s the British and Foreign Bible Society collaborated with the monk Neophytos Vamvas of Chios (1776-1866) for a translation. Its result was printed in London in 1836 but it was hardly made available to the reading public. Another translation by Alexander Pallis (1851-1935) published in the Akropolis newspaper of Athens, caused riots in 1901 in which eight people died.

18 He wrote a history of fires in Istanbul (Patmut‘iwn Hrakizman Kostandnupolsoy). See Hrand D. Andreasyan, “Eremya Çelebi´nin Yangınlar Tarihi”, Tarih Dergisi, 1973, no. 27, pp. 59-84.

19 See on Yeremia Chelebi and his works Avedis K. Sanjian and Andreas Tietze, ed., Eremya Chelebi Kömürjian´s Armeno-Turkish Poem “The Jewish Bride”, Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1981, esp. pp. 12-46.

20 Edited first by Doctor Vahram Torkomian (1858-1942), Eremia Čêlepii K‘êômiwrčean, Stampōlay Patmut‘iwn, 3 vols., Vienna, 1913-1938. Turkish translation by Hrand D. Andreasyan, Eremya Çelebi Kömürcüyan, Istanbul Tarihi. XVII. Asırda Istanbul, Istanbul: İstanbul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi, 1952 (2nd ed. Istanbul: Eren Yayıncılık, 1988).

21 Ptoyt më Pōlsoy t‘ałerun mēj; reprinted in Istanbul in 1962, together with Baronian´s “National Figures” (Azgayin jojer).

22 Patmut‘iwn hamařōt 400 tarua Osmanc‘oc‘ T‘ak‘avorac‘ën, edited by by Joseph Avedisian, Yerevan 1982.

23 See the text in Emile Legrand, Recueil de poèmes historiques en grec vulgaire, Paris: E. Leroux, 1877, pp. 129-189.

24 New edition: Les Loisirs de Philothée, tr. and ed. Jacques Bouchard, Athens-Montreal: les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1989 .

25 cf. Henri Tonnet, Histoire du roman grec des origines à 1960, Paris: L´Harmattan, 1996, p. 60.

26 J.K., Erōtos apotelesmata ētoi Historia Ēthikoerōtikē me politika tragoudia (Vienna: Georgios Vendotēs, 1792) Five editions are known until 1836. See the new edition by Mario Vitti, Athens, Odysseas, 1989.

27 See the reprint of an anthology first published in 1818 in Mismagia. Anthologio phanariōtikēs poiēsēs kata tēn ekdosē Zēsē Dautē (1818), ed. Antia Frantzi, Athens: Vivliopōleion tēs “Hestias”, [1993].

28 Bosporomachia, ēgun philoneikia Asias kai Eurōpēs eis to katastenon tēs Kōnstantinupoleōs, Leipzig: Breitkopf, 1766, ed. Evgenios Voulgarēs (2nd ed. Venice 1792).

29 Athanasiou Komnēnou Hypsēlanotu Ekklēsiastikōn kai politikōn tōn eis dōdeka bibliōn VIII, IX kai X ētoi Ta meta tēn Halōsin (1453-1789)…., ed. the Archimandrite Germanos Aphthonides, Istanbul: I.A. Vrettos, 1870.

30 See E. Legrand, ed., Histoire de Stavrakis, Paris: Maisonneuve et Cie., 1870 (Collection de monuments pour servir à l´étude de la langue néo-hellénique n° 10).

31 Cours de littérature grecque moderne donné à Genève, ed. Jean Humbert, Genève: A. Cherbuliez, 1827.

32 He also served as a dragoman for the Sublime Porte and at the courts of the voyvodes of Wallachia [Eflâk] and Moldavia [Boğdan]

33Korakistika”, literary meaning “The Language of the Ravens” is the name of a secret language used by Greek children. Here, it is a pun on Adamantios´ Korais´ surname. A Turkish game, which follows the same rules, is known as kuş dili ‘Bird Language.’.

34 There is a bilingual edition (Greek – French) by P. - A. Lascaris, Les Korakistiques ou Amendement de la langue grecque moderne, Paris: Agon, 1928.

35 Hatziaslanis grew up in Istanbul. In 1812, he was appointed dragoman at the court of the Bey of Tunis where he remained until the Greek Revolution.

36 The play is set in Navplia [Anabolu] in 1827

37 2nd edition, Istanbul 1861. The author is also known as a poet and editor of musical anthologies.

38 See on the Mekhitarists Kevork Pamukciyan, Zamanlar, Mekânlar, İnsanlar, prepared by Osman Köker, İstanbul: Aras Yayıncılık, 2003, vol. 3, pp. 321-328.

39 The late Kevork Pamukciyan (1923-1996) has written a biography of this eminent prelate Hakob Nalean Patriark‘ (1706-1764), Keankë, Gordzerë ew Ašakertnerë, Istanbul: K. Pamukciyan, 1981.

40 It bears the title Bu kirk [book < Armenian] oldurki krisdonyagan havatkımıza [christian religion] iktizalı gerek olan bir kaç öyrenilecekler hayca [Armenian] bilmiyen krisdonya yeğpayrlarımız [Christian brethren] için türkce şaradrel [compose] ve adını Grtutyun Krisdonyagan [Christian education] dedik, Istanbul, 1742 (reprinted four times until 1843).

41 Michael Molho, Literatura sefardita de Oriente, Paris 2009, p. 245.

42 The vilâyet matbaası in Ruscuk, capital of the vilâyet of the Danube (Tuna vilâyeti) also printed a considerable number of Bulgarian books.

43 At the end of the story, Khosrov commits suicide, Makruhi (in fact Khosrov´s sister) dies of grief. Unlike Vartan Pasha´s “Story of Akabi”, published in Armeno-Turkish in the same year (see the new edition by Andreas Tietze, Vartan Paşa, Akabi Hikayesi. İlk Türkçe Roman (1851), Istanbul: Eren, 1991), where the action takes place in Istanbul, in Hisarian´s novel the scene is laid to a large extent in Egypt in the mid-nineteenth century.

44 e.g. Dikran Gamsaragan´s (1866-1940), « The teacher´s daughter » (Varžapetin ałjikë), the first realist novel in Armenian literature (1888) or Zabel Khandjian (later Assadour ; nom de plume « Sybille »; 1863-1934)´s master-piece, « The heart of a girl » (Ałjkan më sirtë; 1891).

45 Had, among others, Krikor Zohrab (1860&ndash1915) and Arshag Tchobianian (1872 - 1954) as collaborators. Another collaborator, the novelist and satirical writer Yervant Odian (1869-1926) became editor-in-chief of this paper in 1896.

46 Serialized Yervant Odian´s famous satirical novel “Comrade Panchuni” (Ënker Panjuni) in 1911 under the title Ařak‘elut‘iwn më i Tzaplvar (“A mission to Dzablvar”). Also see the Turkish translation by Sirvart Malhasyan, Yoldaş Pançuni, Istanbul: Aras Yayıncılık, 2000.

47 The first original novel Judaeo-Spanish is said to have been Refael i Miriam by Ben-Yitshak Sacerdote (pseudonym ?), It was first published in twelve episodes in Istanbul in 1910 with the sub-title Novela de los judios de Oriente (“Novel of the Jews of the East”).

48 M. Franco, Essai sur l´histoire des Israélites de l´Empire ottoman depuis les origines jusqu´à nos jours, Paris: Librairie A. Durlacher, 1897 (reprinted Paris: Centre d’études Don Isaac Abravanel, 1980), p. 281.

49 See Thalasso´s sarcastic remarks on the subscribers of this journal in his Anthologie de l´amour asiatique, Paris: Société du Mercure de France, 1906, p. 10.

50 Greek philologikos means both “philological” and “literary”.

51 Cited by Yannis Grypares in his article « Enas philologikos mas chronos », Philologikē Ēchō n° 10 (Istanbul 1894), p. 171.

52 See on this journal Hüseyin Mevsim, “19. Yüzyıl Bulgar Uyanış Çağı ve Bulgar Kitapları Dergisi (1868-1862), Kritik, 2008, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 184-198.

53 Many famous Armenian writers active in Istanbul perished in 1915, Krikor Zohrab, Rupen Zartarian, “Tlgadintsi”, “Siamanto”(Adom Yarcharian), among others. If we had to make comparisons with Turkish writers it would have meant that the career of Ziya Gökalp, Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu, Halide Edip Adıvar, Yahya Kemal Beyatlı, Mehmed Fuad Köprülü and many others would have come to an end already in 1915.

54 Incidentally, the first step had been made by the Ottoman Turks themselves with the foundation of the Encümen-i Daniş in 1851 which had a number of distinguished non-Muslim men of letters (Vartan Pasha, Sahak Abro and others) among its members.

55 See his “Zoğrafos´un ve Zapas´ın vakıf mükâfatları”, Muallimler Mecuması, 1924, vol. 21, p. 603.

56 See Necip P. Alpan, Albanolojinin Işığında: Arnavut Alfabesi Nasıl Doğdu?, Ankara: Ulucan Matbaası, 1979. On Albanian literature during the Ottoman period see Robert Elsie, History of Albanian Literature, New York: Distributed by Columbia University Press, 1995, esp. vol. 1 chapt. 9 “The Rilindja period. Literature of the Albanian national awakening”.

57 Rohat Alakom, Eski Istanbul Kürtleri, Istanbul: Avesta, 1998, p. 100.

58 See Hüseyin Mevsim, “Konstantin Veliçkov (1855-1907) ve İstanbul Soneleri”, Ankara Üniversitesi Dil ve Tarih-Coğrafya Fakültesi Dergisi, vol. 45, no. 2 (2005), p. 95-107.

59 He issued more than 60 books, newspapers and magazines, both original and translated, in Istanbul, among these the newspapers Gayda (1863-1867) and Makedoniya (1866-1872); the magazine Chitalishte (1872-1873), and Zvŭnchatiy glumcho («The jester with bells»; 1873) which apparently took its inspiration from Teodor Kasap´s satirical paper Çıngıraklı Tatar. The Zvântchatii Glumcho was followed by another weekly, Shutosh, «a paper for jest and satire» (1873 –1874). whose cartoons were those published in the Çıngıraklı Tatar before.

60 See H. Ahmadzadeh, Nation and Novel. A Study of Persian and Kurdish Narrative Discourse, Uppsala: Uppsala Universitet, 2003, p. 157f.

61 See on this writer “Óarzī, Mahmūd” (May Schinasi) Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2013-05-14 (with further references)

62 He took up residence in Damascus, where he was employed at the Secretariat of the province (Ghulâm Muhammad Khan Óarzī, Divān, Karachi, 1892-1893, pp. 4-10).

63 See “Yek shabī, ke dar boghāz-e dilnuvāz gozarānīde am”, in Az har dahan suxanī, va az har čaman samanī, Kabul1913, p. 83.

64 Strangely enough, Istanbul is regarded as part of the “Diaspora” by certain contemporary writers. On the development of Armenian literature see K. B. Bardakjian, Reference Guide to Modern Armenian Literature 1500-1920, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2000. A wealth of material is contained in Kevork Pamukciyan´s, EKTK (cited n.8), 4 vols., Istanbul: Aras Yayıncılık, 2002&ndash2003. Also see Raymond Kévorkian, “Littérature arménienne: Constantinople et son activité littéraire au XIXe siècle”, Revue de Littérature comparéé, vol. 234, no. 2 (1985), pp. 199-209.

65 The patriarchal press set up in Istanbul, in 1756 survived for less than a year, very much like that of Cyril Lucaris before. In 1798, however, a Greek press attached to the Patriarchate was established which operated more or less permanently thereafter

66 The fifth part of his Tesut‘iwn hamařot hin ew nor ašxarhagrut‘ean (“Observations on New and Old Geography”) contains a history of Istanbul which was translated by Hrand D. Andreasyan under the title 18. Asırda İstanbul (2nd ed. Istanbul: İstanbul Fetih Cemiyeti, 1976).

67 Istanbul (“Tsarigrad”) may be called the largest Bulgarian city in thenineteenth century. Until 1878, the biggest Bulgarian towns – Ruscuk (Ruse) and Philippopoli (Plovdiv) – had a population of about 20,000 inhabitants, whereas in Istanbul resided some 40,000 Bulgarians (including Macedonians). The Feriköy cemetery may also be considered as the largest Bulgarian cemetery that exists.

68 The Tanzimat reforms had brought along with them a considerable degree of freedom. But it never allowed the same degree of it as in Western countries like France or England. It is mainly for this reason, that there has always been a sort of “parallel” literary activity of all communities (at times also including the Muslim Turks !), in Western Europe, in Russia, in neighbouring countries, even nominally Ottoman vassal states (Serbia, Romania, Egypt) which had been chosen as a residence by political emigrants. But not only revolutionary activists, perhaps understandably, were not allowed to publish their works within the boundaries of the Empire. Even Ottoman civils servants like Şemseddin Sami and his brother Naim Bey published their Albanian works abroad. The Iranian émigré Mirza Habib-e Esfahânî (1835-1893), was able to publish his translation of Molière´s Misanthrope (Mardom-geriz) and a number of works on Persian grammar in Persian in Istanbul but not his seminal translation (from the French version !) of J. Morier´s Adventures of Haji Baba of Isfahan, which set a new trend of prose writing in the Persian language. The translation was eventually published in British India, in Calcutta, in 1905 by D. C. Phillott who misattributed the translation to Sheikh Ahmad Rūhī Kermānī.

69 Interestingly enough, a second edition was printed in Ruscuk at the Printing Press of the Vilâyet of the Danube in 1873.

70 See Frances Trix, “The Stamboul Alphabet of Shemseddin Sami Bey: Precursor to Turkish Script Reform”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 31 (1999), pp. 255-272.

71 He is buried in the Karaca Ahmed Cemetery in Üsküdar.

72 See on this paper Fahri Huvaj “Çerkeslerin ilk gazetecilik deneyimi: Ğhuaze”, Nart (Ekim-Aralık 1997), pp. 8-11.

73 Cf. Richard Daniel Lehan, The City in Literature: An Intellectual and Cultural History, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

74 See Henri Tonnet, «Les premiers romans grecs à sujet turc», Revue des Etudes néo-helléniques, 1992), vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 5-19.

75 A special case is the unfinished novel Heptalophos ē Ēthē kai ethima Kōnstantinupoleōs, (« Seven Hills [another name for Constantinople/Istanbul] or Manners and customs of Constantinople ») published under the pseudonym Petros I. Ioannidēs. The first book of this work was printed in Istanbul in 1855 by the Anatoli Press and republished in Athens in 1866 with the title Apokrypha tēs Kōnstantinupoleōs.

76 Tsarigradsky Potaynosti, 3 parts., Istanbul 1869-1875.

77 See. Strauss, «Le livre français d´Istanbul » (cited n. 3), pp. 300-301. id., « Who Read What in the Ottoman Empire (19th-20th centuries)? », Arabic Middle Eastern Literatures, vol. 6, no. 1 (2003), p. 39-76 [« Osmanlı İmparatorluğu´nda Kimler, Neleri Okurdu (19-20 Yüzyıllar) ? », Kritik, 2008, vol.1, no. 2 (2008), pp. 1-49; here p. 35-36]. The Mystères de Péra also exist as a theatrical adaptation, whereas a Judaeo-Spanish version was published in Salonika as late as 1927-1928.

78 See Elena Romero, La creación literaria en lengua sefardí, Madrid: Editorial MAPFRE, 1992, p. 277.

79 The Greek original, Ho Diavolos en Tourkia ētoi Skēnai en Konstantinoupolei, appeared eleven years later (London, 1862). The title alludes to Lesage’s famous novel Le Diable boîteux (1707) where the devil, Asmodeus, takes the protagonist Don Cleophas for a night flight, and removes the roofs from the houses to show him the secrets of what passes in private lives.

80 See his article on Mahmud II and his reforms, “Sultan Mahmoud II”, published in the Revue de Paris, 1837, pp. 252- 267.

81 Strangely enough, it figures as a translation of a novel by the Hungarian writer Jókai Mór (1825&ndash1904) in the Bulgarian literature.

82 Ho Chalet Efentēs 4 vols., Athens. 1867- 1871.

83 New edition by Robert Anhegger and Vedat Günyol, Seyreyle Dünyayı (Temaşa-i Dünya ve Cefakâr u Cefakeş), 2nd ed., Istanbul: Cem Yayınevi, 1988.

84 Its original was first discovered by the Greek writer Soula Bozis. See her article “Üç İsim Bir Akrabalık”, Milliyet Sanat Dergisi, 15 June 1990, no. 242 (June 15 1990), pp. 38-39.

85 Among the pioneers were Rupen Zartarian (1874-1915) and “Tlgadintsi” (Hovhannes Harutiunian, 1860-1915) in the 1890ies.

86 Cited by James Etmekjian in The French Influence on the Western Armenian Renaissance 1843-1915, New York: Twayne Publishers, 1964, p. 249.

87 According to Slaveykoff, the poem went back to a popular tradition concerning the Akbaldır Çeşmesi, a fountain on the road between Lyubimets and Harmanli.

88 Gotvarska kniga ili postavleniya za vsyakakvi gostbi, spored kakto gi pravlyat v Tsarigrad Istanbul: Makedoniya Printing Press, 1870. This book, an interesting ethnographic source on the life in Istanbul at that time, was published again by Slaveykoff.

89 See his Avtobiografiya, dnevnitsi i spomeni, 3 vols., Sofia, 1927-1931.

90 He published, for example, « Kürdce nasayih » in the Kürd Teâvün ve Terakki Gazetesi, a bi-weekly founded in 1908 in Istanbul as the mouthpiece of the Kürd Teâvün ve Terakki Cemiyeti.

91 Rohat Alakom, Eski Istanbul Kürtleri, Istanbul: Avesta, 1998, p. 74.f

This article was originally written in English for History of Istanbul and its Turkish translation was published in 2015.

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