Cambridge History of Islam (3) - Turkish Literature

Again, listing in the order authors appear in the article from Cambridge History of Islam, Volume 2B (1970) Chapter 8


1. Mahmud Kashghari (d. 1074) - Divan lughat al-Turk; contains examples of literary tradition of pre-Islamic period


[Eastern Turkish - literary language from the 11th till end of 19th c.]

[first stage]

2. Yusuf of Balasaghun - Kutadgu bilig (1069-70) in Hakaniye / Middle Turkish; "important allergorical-didactic poem"

3. Adib Ahmed of Yuknek - 'Aybat al-haqa'iq; "little book in verse;" "interesting from linguistic viewpoint, rather than as literature"


4. Rabghuzi - Qisas al-anbiya (1310); lives of prophets

5. Mahmud of Kerder - Nahj al-Faradis (1360); Forty Hadiths

(popular religious works; both widely read and loved till the end of 19th c.)

6. Qutb of Khwarazm - Khusru u-Shirin (1341); parallel to Nizami's mathnawi

7. Khwarazmi - Mahabbet-name (1353); inspired by Gurgani

[third-stage - Chaghtay period]

8. Sakari - poet in Samaqand; 2H-15th c.

9. Kutfi of Herat (d. 1462-3) - poet

10. 'Ali Shir Nava'i (1441-1501) - "one of the greatest poets of Eastern Turkish literature and one of the most able in Turkish literature as a whole"; "his service to Chaghatay literature has resulted in this dialect often being called Nava'i."; inspired by Persian poets Nizami, Amir Khusraw of Delhi, and Jami; "one of the four great poets of classical Turkish literature; but his is the most fertile of them all"; wrote ghazals, mesnevis; Majalis al-nafa'is (1491); Mirzan al-awzan (1493); Nasa'im al-mahabba min shama'im al-futuwwa (enlargement of  Jami's Nafahat al-uns); Muhakamat al-lughatayn (1499)

11. Husayn Baykara (d. 1506) - sultan of Herat, himself a poet

12. Zahir al-Din Muhammad Babur - memoirs Babur-name: represent prose of Eastern Turkish; poems, equal to Navai's

13. Abu'l-Ghazi Bahadur Khan - Shejere-i Terakime (1659); Shajarat al-Atrak (completed by his son in 1665); examples of Chaghatay prose close to the popular language


[Western Turksh]


14. Fuzuli (d. 1556) - "surpassed others before and after him, except Navai's, (on the theme of Layla and Majnun), and in Turkish literature this theme has become inseparable from Fuzuli's name; also divan poet; "one of the four great poets of classica Turkish literature"

15. Sheykhi (beginning of 15th c.) - most beautifle example of the theme of Husrev u-Shirin

16. Ahmedi (d. 1413) - Iskender-name; chronicle of earlier Ottoman history

17. Suleyman Chelebi of Bursa - Mevlit (1409) - religious mesnevis, read by great numbers of people up to the present day

18. Yazijioghlu Mehmed bijan - Muhammediye (1449) - religious mesnevis, read by great numbers of people up to the present day

19. Nesimi (d. 1418) - divan poet

20. Nejati (d. 1509) - divan poet

21. Baqi (d. 1600) - divan poet

22. Nef'i (d. 1635) - divan poet; greatest representative of 17th c.

23. Nabi (d. 1712) - divan poet

24. Nedim (d. 1730) - divan poet - "one of the four great poets of classica Turkish literature"

25. Ghalib Dede (d. 1799) - last greate master of divan poetry

26. Na'ili (d. 1666)

27. Yunus Emre (d. 1320) - "one of the four great poets of classica Turkish literature"; "according to some the greatest of all"; "united these three tendencies [note: divan, popular mystical poetry; folk poetry]"; "No poet of a calibre to continue his work has followed him"

28. Kaygusuz Abdal  (15th c.) - tekke poetry

29. Pir Sultan Abdal (15th c.) - tekke poetry

30. Karajaoghlan (16th c.) - greatest poet of folk poetry

31. Dadaloghlu (d. 1868?) - last great name of folk poetry


[pure prose]

32. Seayyidi 'Ali Re'is - Mir'at al-mamalik

33. Evliya Chelebi (17th c.) - Seyahat-name

34. Katib Chelebi - Fezleke; Ottoman history

35. Pechevi (1649) - histories

36. Silahdar Mehmed (1723) histories

37. Giritli 'Ali 'Aziz (d. 1798) - short stories

[ornamented prose]

38. Kemal Pasha-zade (1531) - Tavarikh-i Al-i 'Osman

39. Sa'd al-Di (end of 16th c.) - Tajal-Tavarikh

40. Veysi (d. 1628) - artificial prose carried to an extreme; biography of the Prophet

41. Nergisi (d. 1635) - prose khamsa

42. Sinan Pasha (15th c.) - between pure and ornamented prose

[middle prose]

43. Selaniki (d. 1600) - history

44. Gelibolulu 'Ali (d. 1600) history

45. Na'ima (d. 1716) - history; "masterful compilation and one of the most vivid in Ottoman prose, an importance source for the 17th c."

46. Yirmisekiz Mehmed Chelebi (d. 1732) - Sefaret-name


[Post-Tanzimat literature]

47. Ibrahim Shinasi (1821-1871)

48. Namiq Kemal (1840-88)

49. Ziya Pasha (1825-80)

50. 'Abd ul-Haqq Hamid (1852-1937)

51. Tevfiq Fikret (1867-1915)

52. Jenab Shihab al-Din (1870-1934)

53. Khalid Ziya Usakligil (1866-1945)

54. Ahmed idhat (1844-1912)

55. Ahmed Rasim (1864-1932)

56. Huseyin Rahmi (1864-1944)

57. Mehmed Emin (1869-1944)

58. Riza Tavfiq (1869-1949)


One interesting thing about this list is that the proportion the author allocated to Eastern vs. Western Turkish author are roughly 1:3 - in the top 4 names he propose, Nava'i in Eastern Turkish and Fuzuli, Yunus Emre and Nedim is in Western Turkish; total from Eastern Turkish is 12 works while from Western Turkish before Tanzimat is 33 works.


In terms of influence, it is harder to say Babur is any less influential (being the founder of Mughal dynasty, and inaugurated a series of Persian language royal (auto-)biographies, and artistically almost equal to Nava'i. If we use the 1:3 ratio, 3 other names for Western Turkish given in the article could be Karajaoghlan (folk poetry) and Na'ima (middle prose). The 3rd name is harder.


But, now if we bring in what I just read in Cambridge History of Turkey vol. 3, it is not clear which of Nef'i, Nabi or Nedim is more important in that period. The current article favored Nedim, and that's probably just because he focused on Istanbul dialect which clearly is important to Turkish nationalism. Furthermore, the way it was phrased there is that 16th c. is typically considered pinnacle of Turkish literature - if accurate, that would give primacy to names like Fuzuli and Baqi - when I did the CWANA list, for Turkish I was mostly struggling how to place Na'ima vs. Mustafa Ali vs. Babur (as historians), and for poetry it was a struggle between Fuzuli and Baqi based on very limited information. Also spent lots of time to try to understand what works the Evliya Chelebi and Katib Chelebi wrote.


With this article, I would say that my view of canonicity is still confused. More readings needed.

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