This article analyzes the introduction of Ziya Pasha's Ottoman anthology Harabat (AH 1291–1292 [1874/1875–1875/1876]), which provides a comparative history of Arabic, Turkish, and Persian literatures. I argue that Harabat compiles texts from diverse geographical and temporal origins and, instead of defining them as members of distinct national traditions, projects this compilation as what I call a literary “reservoir” that constitutes the multilingual Ottoman canon. My argument draws upon Ziya Pasha's characterization of the Ottoman culture as an “ocean” that encompasses Arabic, Persian, and Turkish “streams.” This description undermines the typical scholarly view that the Ottoman culture emerged and developed under Arabic and Persian influences. I then reframe our understanding of canonization through using the conceptual repertoire that the world literature scholarship has brought into literary studies—circulations, target culture, and source culture. Building upon John Guillory's work on the process of canon formation, I propose that each source text can be “deracinated” when its context is ignored in the target culture to facilitate this text's incorporation into a new canon, or “reservoir.” This article finally calls for rewriting the history of comparative and world literature by demonstrating that Harabat is constitutive of the nineteenth-century comparative literature paradigm.
Canons as Reservoirs: The Ottoman Ocean in Ziya Pasha's Harabat and Reframing the History of Comparative Literature
c. ceyhun arslan is a postdoctoral fellow at the Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations and will become an Assistant Professor of English Language and Comparative Literature at Koç University, Istanbul, in February 2018. He received his PhD in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University in May 2017. His research interests include Arabic and Turkish literature, literary and cultural theory, and diaspora and migration studies.
C. Ceyhun Arslan; Canons as Reservoirs: The Ottoman Ocean in Ziya Pasha's Harabat and Reframing the History of Comparative Literature. Comparative Literature Studies 15 December 2017; 54 (4): 731–748. doi: https://doi.org/10.5325/complitstudies.54.4.0731
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