The Early Turkish Novel: 1872–1900

Publication Year



Robert Finn, Ph.D. 1978.

This study is an investigation of novels in Turkish of the end of the nineteenth century. After 1850, the impact of European economic and political influences in the Ottoman Empire led to the adoption of European cultural modes as well. It evokes the society of late Ottoman Istanbul from a study of the novels of the period as well as tracing the changes in the novel form in Turkish. Different literary methods were employed by different authors. Taken as a whole, the novels reveal a distinct picture of an interior world, usually bound by a single family, in which the unhappy fates of female slaves and Europeanized dandies are colorfully dl:lpicted in an atmosphere of extravagance and financial doom. Vignettes of life in Europeanized upper - class Istanbul serve as tableaus to illustrate the final collapse of the Empire. The restrictive nature of social relations, the economic forces which destroy and compel the characters, and the psychological devasta­ tion attendant upon the change in cultural focus from Istanbul to Paris serve as the parameters within which stylized figures are sketched. The portrait that emergei; is of a society devoid of the moral, intellectual and emotional fibre it would have needed to manage its own activities. The turn towards the West, and the novel form itself, are signs of the effort to seek externally what was no longer there internally. By the end of the century, authors came to intimate that the solution for the problems of the society lay in a return to the metaphysical base of Ottoman culture.

Table of Contents:


1. Introduction

2. The First Novels

            Şemsettin Sami and Ahmed Midhat

            Emin Nihat’s Tales

3. Romantic Youth

            Namık Kemal: İntibah

Sezai’s Abolitionist Work

4. Mehmet Murad’s Idealism

5. Carriages and Sin

            Recaizade Ekrem: Love and Fashion

            Nabizade Nazım: Lover’s Passion

            Characteristics of the First Novels

6. Halid Ziya Uşaklıgil: The First Master

7. Halid Ziya: The Mature Works


Appendix A: Two Descriptions of Çamlıca

Appendix B: Biographical Notes



Isis Press