Saturday, September 6, 2008
I have long been interested in the Ottomans, not only for themselves, but for the influence the Ottoman Empire has had on the literature of the Balkans. Rebecca West, in her incredible book 'Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey through Yugoslavia', describes regions and peoples so filled with melancholy, what Orhan Pamuk, in his memoir 'Istanbul' calls "huzun". This Balkan melancholy pervades these novels like the fogs of Istanbul: read Ismail Kadare, Vladimir Bartol, Ivo Andric, or Milorad Pavic, to name a few.
And then, just this week, the Ottomans arrive at my door from two very distinct sources: a new exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum called Oasis: Western Dreams of the Ottoman Empire and the new issue of the London Review of Books:
Kemalism by Perry Anderson.