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Early, Yet Already Late

"Early, Yet Already Late: Literary Musings on Historical Questions." Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, vol. 7 no. 1, 2020, p. 55-57. Project MUSE muse.jhu.edu/article/762063.

Early modern is a fraught term, if only for the reason that it lends the so called “modern” unwarranted legitimacy. The phrase also blurs the mechanisms of periodization in the historical and literary studies of the Ottoman Empire, or rather Anatolia.

In the field, transition into the modern period is defined not by the transformation of classical or premodern forms, but rather by the appearance of “new” forms, e.g., free verse and novel. It would not be unreasonable then to assume that the “early modern” would be characterized by a foreshadowing of these new forms; new forms that in their full flowering signaled the beginning of the “modern.” This, however, is not the case. If “early modern” Ottoman Turkish literature can be characterized by a single core form, that form is the gazel, which, defying conventional attempts at periodization, maintained a central position within Ottoman literature well into the “modern” period.

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