The alla franca dandy; modernity and the novel in the late 19th-century Ottoman Empire

Date
2020-05
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Source Title
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Print ISSN
1353-0194
Electronic ISSN
1469-3542
Publisher
Routledge
Volume
47
Issue
3
Pages
423 - 443
Language
English
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Abstract

In the late 19th-century Ottoman novel, an iconic character draws attention: the alla franca dandy; a man who admires the Western culture to the point of mindless imitation, and who stands aloof from his own society as he condemns the Ottoman/Islamic culture in aesthetical terms. He was 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 figure became the embodiment of Westernization gone astray and served the intellectuals’ objective to educate the masses by setting a bad example to be avoided. However, though the alla franca dandy figure was brought forth, in this manner, to circumscribe the proper limits of modernization, he ironically evolved, through the novels of different authors, 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.

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Published Version (Please cite this version)