Hüsn ü Aşk
Edited by Victoria Rowe Holbrook, Ph.D. 1985
The girl Hüsn and the boy Aşk are betrothed to each other as children. But Hüsn violates the custom of the tribe by falling in love with him, and Aşk must undergo the trials of a journey to Diyar-i-Kalp, the Land of the Heart, to prove himself worthy—a journey to realization of both his and Hüsn’s true nature.
The Turkish verse romance Hüsn ü Aşk, written in 1783 by Şeyh Galip, head of an Istanbul center of Rumi’s order of the Whirling Dervishes, is an innovative interpretation of the Islamic love tale as a story of the action of God’s qualities in the world. With its stunning imagery, fast-moving plot, and nonchalant, erudite humor, it is widely known as the greatest work of Ottoman literature.
In her introduction Victoria Rowe Holbrook discusses the heritage of Ibn Arabi and Rumi in Ottoman thought, the traditions of verse romance and allegory, Indian style imagery, and Galip’s political loyalties.
“Holbrook’s . . . introduction [to Galip’s Ottoman romance] is the finest brief treatment of Islamic mysticism in existence. Her profound knowledge of Sufism clarifies the philosophical vocabulary of the tale, and her modernized spelling of the text breaks with transliteration tradition to make the work accessible to all readers of Turkish.” —Orhan Pamuk