The Age of Beloveds

Love and the Beloved in Early-Modern Ottoman and European Culture and Society

The Age of Beloveds

Book Pages: 440 Illustrations: 14 illus. Published: January 2005

History > European History, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism, Pre-Modern Studies > Medieval and Early Modern Studies

The Age of Beloveds offers a rich introduction to early modern Ottoman culture through a study of its beautiful lyric love poetry. At the same time, it suggests provocative cross-cultural parallels in the sociology and spirituality of love in Europe—from Istanbul to London—during the long sixteenth century. Walter G. Andrews and Mehmet Kalpakli provide a generous sampling of translations of Ottoman poems, many of which have never appeared in English, along with informative and inspired close readings. The authors explain that the flourishing of Ottoman power and culture during the “Turkish Renaissance” manifested itself, to some degree, as an “age of beloveds,” in which young men became the focal points for the desire and attention of powerful officeholders and artists as well as the inspiration for a rich literature of love.

The authors show that the “age of beloveds” was not just an Ottoman, eastern European, or Islamic phenomenon. It extended into western Europe as well, pervading the cultures of Venice, Florence, Rome, and London during the same period. Andrews and Kalpakli contend that in an age dominated by absolute rulers and troubled by war, cultural change, and religious upheaval, the attachments of dependent courtiers and the longings of anxious commoners aroused an intense interest in love and the beloved. The Age of Beloveds reveals new commonalities in the cultural history of two worlds long seen as radically different.


The Age of Beloveds by Walter Andrews and Mehmet Kalpakli is perhaps one of the first works systematically analyzing sex, gender, and pleasure in ottoman society as they are represented in literature—including poetry and prose such as biographies, histories, and memoirs—produced during the early Ottoman era, beginning with the start of Ottoman rule in Constantinople and continuing to the early seventeenth century. . . . [I]t contributes immensely to the scholarship on Ottoman Turkish literature, culture, and intellectual history. . . . The Age of Beloveds offers compelling interpretations on various fronts of Ottoman cultural and literary history analyzed within a context of and in comparison to European societies of the same period. . . . The Age of Beloveds is a stimulating work of scholarship on Ottoman history as European cultural history.” — Fikret Turan, Journal of the History of Sexuality

“[The Age of the Beloveds] contributes significantly to the now growing recognition of the multiculturalism of the Mediterranean. . . . The analysis . . . has a refreshing tartness to it.” — L.R.N. Ashley , Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance

“The argument is cogent and welcome for its investigation of a rarely-treated topic in a broad context using nontraditional sources.” — Ali Anooshahr , Comitatus

“This book … challenges European historians to broaden their view and include the Ottoman Empire (and beyond?) in their understanding of such quintessentially European things as ‘the Renaissance’ and ‘mannerism.’… Their argument is multifaceted, disarming, well written, and full of novel connections and cogent examples.” — Robert Dankoff , Speculum

“This book by Walter G. Andrews and Mehmet Kalpakli is a provocative, engaging, and beautifully written study. . . .The authors deftly analyze poems while providing stories and fascinating details about the men and women who authored them. The book, however, is much more than a work of literary scholarship. The poems are thoughtfully contextualized amid the social, cultural, and political history of both the Ottoman Empire and Western Europe.” — Nancy Bisaha , American Historical Review

"The Age of Beloveds ventures compelling parallels between western Europe and the Ottoman Empire. . . . Even without the wide-ranging insights intelligently argues in this book, its presentation of . . . other narratives by Nev'izade Atayi, as well as writings by such poets as Ishak Celebi, Mirek'I Tabib, Hayali Bey, and Azizi Misri, will surely insure its influence in the field." — Mary Ellen Lamb, Studies in English Literature 1500-1900

"[A] fascinating and challenging interpretation of Ottoman poetry as a window into sexual-social relations in the East and West. . . . [B]y providing English translations of significant Ottoman poetry for the first time, [Andrews and Kalpakli] have done a major service for literary critics of the early modern period. Their explication of the texts is masterful and convincing." — Jonathan Grant , History: Reviews of New Books

"[T]ruly a unique and remarkable achievement. Its subject . . . is . . . of great cultural and scientific importance. . . . Each of the book's eleven chapters is a marvel of conciseness and good writing. . . . Readers will have their horizons broadened in a way they would have thought impossible. . . . It is should be read by all interested in social history and its ramifications." — Alan D. Corré, Digest of Middle East Studies

"Curious readers will have been enticed by the illustrations and already noticed how the central chapters offer contextualized readings of Ottoman court poetry and illustrate key themes and their links to Renaissance culture in Italy, France, and England. . . . [T]he authors offer brilliant close readings of gazels by Baki and Hayali that show us how to read such works and appreciate the heteroglossic interplay which makes Ottoman court poetry so fascinating and beyond summary here." — Gerald Maclean , TLS

The Age of Beloveds is a treasure and a masterpiece. With breathtakingly extensive original research, it is beautifully written, in a style both inviting and impressive. It is the fruit of a lifetime’s project to add Ottoman literature to the canons of world literature.” — Victoria Holbrook, author of The Unreadable Shores of Love: Turkish Modernity and Mystic Romance

The Age of Beloveds is a unique and powerful book. There is nothing remotely like this out there and yet as one reads it one is struck by the dire need for the sort of basic information and insights it provides about the other half of the Mediterranean during the early modern period.” — María Rosa Menocal, author of Shards of Love: Exile and the Origins of the Lyric

“A wonderful and brave book that is so fun to read. . . . An astonishing account of love and the beloved where they intersect with sex, spirituality, politics and power. . . . Amazing!” — Orhan Pamuk, author My Name Is Red


Availability: In stock
Price: $30.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Walter G. Andrews is Research Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization at the University of Washington. He is the author of Poetry’s Voice, Society’s Song: Ottoman Lyric Poetry and An Introduction to Ottoman Poetry.

Mehmet Kalpakli is Chair and Assistant Professor of History and Director of the Center for Ottoman Studies at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. They are coauthors of Ottoman Lyric Poetry: An Anthology.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface ix

A Guide to Ottoman Turkish Transcription, Pronunciation, Names, and Titles xi

1. Introduction 1

2. Beloved Boys (and Girls) 32

3. Love Scripts I, Male Bonding 59

4. Love Scripts II, Poems about Poetry about Love 85

5. Love, Sex, and Poetry 113

6. Women and the Art of Love 163

7. Seduction and Reversal 217

8. To Die For...: Love and Violence in the Age of the Beloveds 251

9. Love, Law and Religion 270

10. The End of an Age 304

11. Renaissance, Renaissances, and the Age of the Beloveds 329

Appendix: Ottoman Sultans during the Age of the Beloveds 355

Notes 357

Glossary of Ottoman Terms 389

Bibliography 393

Index 411
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3424-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3450-7
Publicity material