Beşir Fuad and His Opponents: The Form of a Debate over Literature and Truth in Nineteenth-Century Istanbul

Journal of Turkish Literature 8 (1):96-106 (2011)
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One and a half months after Victor Hugo died in 1885, Beşir Fuad published a biography of him, in which Fuad defended Emile Zola’s naturalism and realism against Hugo’s romanticism. This resulted in the most important dispute in nineteenth-century Turkish literary history, the hakikiyyûn and hayâliyyûn debate, with the former represented by Beşir Fuad and the latter represented by Menemenlizâde Mehmet Tahir. This article focuses on the form of this debate rather than its content, and this focus reveals how the tension between classical and post-classical Islamic intellectual history had become deeply embedded in Ottoman Turkish literary history by the late 1800s. This particular event demonstrates two points: that dialectical disputation was viewed negatively as a return to the seemingly primitive practices of an antiquated mentality, as opposed to the relatively enlightened apodictic argumentation ; and that trajectories of Ottoman Turkish literary history can be understood within the context of general Islamic intellectual history

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Mehmet Karabela
Queen's University


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