The Novel from Commodity to Technology: Producing and Consuming Prose Fiction in the Late Ottoman Empire

Réalisation : 10 novembre 2016 Mise en ligne : 10 novembre 2016
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When we discuss the development of a culture of the novel in the late Ottoman Empire, it appears crucial to emphasize that the emergence of this particular genre in the largest urban centers of the Empire in the second half of the nineteenth century was determined by two crucial parameters. First, the development of the Ottoman novel constituted a truly trans-communal phenomenon and was the product of a space marked by an uncommonly dense traffic in languages and scripts, where literature was written, published, consumed, performed, and translated in multiple languages and where cultural practices therefore often cut across communal boundaries. Second, the emergence of the genre in this complex cultural landscape was, in parallel, the product of trans-national literary exchanges and, to a large extent, the result of the wide diffusion on the Ottoman literary market of works imported primarily from Western Europe and adapted to local needs.

Through an analysis of select examples of late Ottoman novel writing in Ottoman-Turkish, Greek, Armenian and Ladino, this talk explores the ways in which, by approaching the late Ottoman novel not exclusively as a textual corpus, but also as a commodity within a structure of economic and symbolic exchanges and as a technology demanding the acquisition of a particular skill set, we can emphasize the creative reception of the Western European novel in the multilayered cultural context of the late Ottoman Empire and the agency of its Turkish, Greek, Armenian, or Sepharadic practitioners in the nineteenth century.



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