Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Ottoman Traveller: Selections from the Book of Travels of Evliya Çelebi

I've been mildly obsessed with the history of the Ottoman empire since 1994 and my first trip to Istanbul. As a part of my collection, books about the Ottoman empire are few and far between. Sure, a few Pamuk, a wonderful evolving series of novels by Jenny White, the Kamil Pasha novels, and general histories of Turkey from Roman times to the present. However, specifically Ottoman originated and focused is more difficult to find. Once I find a potential acquisition I start to debate the merits of acquiring just "a copy" versus searching for a rare, collectible and more expensive edition. Does reading a POD somehow cheapen the intellectual experience? Yeah, I have to admit that POD titles annoy me more than inspire me. Modern scholarship is coming to the rescue. Shortly to be available in the US (books are on the slow boat from the UK now) is

A Turkish Pepys
Review by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Published: The Financial Times,October 9 2010 09:21 | Last updated: October 9 2010 09:26

An Ottoman Traveller: Selections from the Book of Travels of Evliya Çelebi, Edited by Robert Dankoff and Sooyong Kim, Eland, 496 pages

"If you can imagine a writer who is a combination of Samuel Pepys, Falstaff and the 18th-century courtier Prince de Ligne writing in the Islamic world of the Ottoman empire at its height, then you will approach the fascinating talent of Evliya Çelebi. He was a contemporary of Pepys and while that irrepressible diarist was caressing his mistresses and compiling the admiralty accounts in Charles II’s London, Çelebi was travelling and writing on places, ideas, food, religion, war and even sexual mores in the greatest empire of the world...."

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Istanbul: Memories and the City