The alla franca dandies: modern individuality in the late 19th century Ottoman novels
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The thesis studies the Hamidian regime (1876-1909) of the Ottoman Empire with regard to the relations between Ottoman modernization, Westernization and the proto-individualism that was then taking roots without the concomitant development of capitalism and in the absence of bourgeoisie. To investigate these relations, the thesis concentrates upon the alla franca dandy literary figure; a francophile who adores European culture and feels aversion towards the Ottoman/Islamic culture. The alla franca dandy owes his existence to Ahmet Mithat’s Felatun Bey and Rakım Efendi (1876) published as a critique of “false Westernization” and an attempt at circumscribing the limits of proper modernization, balancing the Ottoman/Islamic culture and Western material progress. He was thus born out of the Ottoman intellectuals’ ideas of and anxiety over Westernization, who sought to modernize the society without subverting the traditional foundations. As the Ottoman/Islamic and Western cultures collided, the alla franca dandy became the embodiment of “false Westernization” and served the intellectuals’ objective to educate the masses by setting a bad example. However, though the alla franca dandy was born to circumscribe the proper limits of modernization, he ironically evolved, through the novels of authors like Ekrem and Gürpınar), to express individualistic attitudes and put forth a modernist critique of the Ottoman/Islamic tradition as the intellectuals’ epistemological assumptions eroded and the society’s present is questioned and problematized as in need of intervention. Through an analysis of the alla franca dandy’s development, the thesis tries to bring forth Ottoman modernity’s unique nature and individualism’s role in it.
KeywordsAlla Franca Dandy