The ‘Sublime Porte’ of Publishing

The centre of government for the Ottoman State was for centuries called Babiali – the Sublime Porte. It became the name of the surrounding historical area covering landmarks such as Saint Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and also the modern governmental buildings of the late 19th century. The district with its old book bazaar welcomed intellectuals of the period and the first publishing houses set up here. The Ottoman State gave way to the modern Turkish Republic and government moved to Ankara, but Babiali – or Cagaloglu as its name was changed to – continued to host almost all of Istanbul’s publishing houses. Then in the last decade a critical change came as some of the major publishers started to move to Beyoglu and many new publishing houses were established around Taksim and Beyoglu. In this issue, we visited both Cagaloglu and Beyoglu, and took photographs of the reviewed books in these old and new centres of publishing.

Since it was the 800th anniversary of Rumi’s birth, UNESCO designated last year as the Year of Rumi. Many books about him were published in 2007 along with several translations of his Masnavi. Talat Sait Halman selected and translated 99 poems by Rumi and these poems were accompanied by 99 paintings from the celebrated artist Ergin Inan in a beautiful book. One of the most important experts on Rumi was undoubtedly Sefik Can. He translated the Masnavi and his Divan-i Kebir and also wrote a commentary on the Masnavi. Unfortunately he did not live to see the Year of Rumi. His successor Masnavihan Hayat Nur Artiran wrote about Rumi’s philosophy, Mevlevi music and dance for this issue of the Turkish Book Review. In this special section of our magazine, Deniz Arcak, a renowned singer deeply influenced by Rumi, describes how she met Sefik Can and how she entered the world of Masnavi.

Last year, Oguz Atay, one of the most important contemporary authors was also commemorated on his 30th anniversary of his death. For our magazine, Ersan Uldes tracked the genesis of his special literary channel with its unique sense of humour. In this article, along with Atay’s novel Dangerous Games, he reviewed Lie by Tahsin Yucel and The Time Regulation Institute by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar. This novel by Tanpinar was translated into English six years ago. In a couple of months, another popular novel by him, A Mind at Peace will be published into English. We interviewed the translator of this novel, Erdag Goknar, who also prepared the English translation of Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red. Goknar told us about translating Tanpinar and Pamuk. A German translation of Tanpinar will soon be published by Unionsverlag just ahead of the Frankfurt Book Fair, and a Chinese translation by Yongmin Xia will be published by CIRP.

Recently more works of Turkish literature have begun to find a worldwide audience. The Turkish Book Review will continue to follow the footprints of Turkish literature across the world and will hopefully illuminate new paths for it too.

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