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[Othello.] Othllo.

Availability: In stock

Published: Istanbul Kirk Anbar Matbaasi 1293 [1876]

Stock Code: 131742

OR On display in 43 Dover Street


First edition of this rare first publication of Shakespeare in Ottoman Turkish, done by Hasan Bedreddin and Mehmet Rifat from the French translation of Jean-Francois Ducis, and performed 1867-1877 in Gedikpasa theatre in Istanbul, the first theatre in Turkey where plays were performed by Turkish actors rather than travelling troupes. Shakespeare was becoming popular among the Ottomans at this time, after the Armenians brought a production of Shakespeare to Turkey in 1862. Güllü Agop's Turkish version of Romeo and Juliet is thought to have been the first translation into Turkish, which was performed to great acclaim though never published. Bedreddin and Rifat's Othello was the next to be translated, and would have been of special interest to the Ottomans for its Moorish hero. Jonathan Bate observes the "consonance between the names of... 'Othello' and that of the general enemy 'Ottoman'. This would have been especially apparent if, as is likely, the original pronunciation... was Otello" ("Othello and the Other: Turning Turk", Times Literary Supplement, 19 October 2001). Othello remains today "probably the most popular play with Turkish audiences. It has been adapted under various names - including 'The Revenge of the Negro' - and most famous Turkish actors have played it... Othello treats various themes that have special resonance for Turkish audiences: the theme of the 'other', alienation, loneliness, the life of a soldier even the problem of Cyprus." ("Turkey and Shakespeare", Gönül Bakay, https://www.opendemocracy.net/arts-multiculturalism/article2273.jsp). This rare Ottoman Othello is thus a significant publication, substantiating Bakay's observation that "Orientalism is now a familiar concept, but throughout history, cultures that represent "the other" have also absorbed and selected from the west."
Kirk Anbar Matbaasi published a sequence of literary works by Bedreddin and Rifat from 1875, predominantly theatrical translations from French, each with running pagination and making up a serial publication entitled Temasa ("Theatre"). OCLC records only four institutional holdings (not necessarily complete) for Temasa worldwide (Koç University Istanbul, SOAS London, and two in Germany). This example constitutes a standalone offprint, certainly never bound being only loose quires uncut and untrimmed, and presumably intended for circulation prior to completion of the series. We have traced six copies thus in institutions worldwide (Istanbul, NYU Abu Dhabi, Columbia, Princeton, Wilmington, and the Library of Congress), each sharing the same running pagination.

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Octavo, four loose gatherings, uncut and untrimmed. Paginated 123-174. Housed in a black flat-back cloth box by the Chelsea Bindery.


Strip of tape to spine, extremities lightly chipped and torn but generally a remarkable survival in very good condition.


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