The reshaping of the literary publishing fieldand emergence of the literary translation market between 1850 and 1900
This study reconsiders the modernization of Ottoman literature from the second half of the nineteenth century through the historical lens of literary translations. While it may seem unorthodox to think of translated works as a part of national literature, it may be necessary to re-asses the initiatory role of translation for the Ottoman literature from a new perspective. The discourse of literary history that considers translation as both the indispensable and obligatory result of the process of, and means for, “proper” modernization has been used without any criticism since the 1900s. In addition, despite their contributions, recent research in the field of translation studies, as influenced by cultural studies methodologies, continue to reproduce the same old discourse about the preliminary conditions of literary translations as they are mainly based on these literary histories. However, Ottoman modernization has been scrutinized and reformulated in the fields of history and cultural studies. Following these studies and Pierre Bourdieu’s research methodology on the field of cultural production, I deal with literary translations within the cultural, social and economic context of the era and their reshaping of the literary publishing market. This study argues that, due to the effect of the centralization movement, education textbooks gained importance and became a crucial means of profit and prestige, thus financially supporting the bloom of private printing houses. In addition, the spread and modernization of public education not only caused an increase in the number of readers but also provided a surplus of qualified manpower; in other words, it engendered a new type of translator ready to sell his/her labor for the publishing market. While it is well known that censorship on political activities and publications indirectly paved the way for literary and scientific translation and publishing activities, it also drastically limited the list of pieces to be translated. It seems that censorship together with the tough economic conditions left publisher/printers no choice but to be on good terms with the Ottoman palace so as to survive financially. Moreover, it appears that the palace supported and led the publishing activities more efficiently than what we have believed up until now. In short, this study claims that the literary translations of the last quarter of the nineteenth century were a natural outcome of a modernized printing market and power relations network, rather than a not so much adopted, obligatory phase of modernity.