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Edward G. Browne's Turkish Connexion

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 December 2009

Peter Chelkowski
Affiliation:
Pembroke College, Cambridge 3 Eylul Sanah 1910

Extract

The famous British orientalist E. G. Browne, a physician by training, was interested in Turkish language and literataure long before he became Professor of Arabic at Cambridge. It was at Cambridge that he wrote most of the works in the field of Persian studies, which were to bring him recognition as an outstanding Iranologist. But Browne's sense of affinity with the Turks endured from the time of the Russian-Turkish war of 1877–78, when he was only 16, until the end of his life in 1926. In 1914 he wrote in his introduction to The press and poetry of modern Persia: ‘Curiously enough it was the Ottoman Turks, a people far less original and talented than either the Persians or the Arabs, who so far as the Near East is concerned, introduced the hitherto unknown ideas of ‘the Fatherland’ (watan), ‘the nation’ or ‘people’ (millat) and ‘liberty’ (hurriyyat) and who succeeded in giving to these old words this new and potent significance.’

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 1986

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References

1 Gibb, E. J. W, A history of Ottoman poetry II (London, 1965)Google Scholar, p. x. Browne, serving as aneditor of the volume writes: ‘they [Turkish language and literature] were my first love.’ During the Russian2013;Turkish war of 1877–78, young Browne wanted to become an officer in the Turkisharmy. The first step in that direction was to learn Turkish. In the introduction to his A yearamongst the Persians (London, 1893), 9, he said: ‘⃛ a s my enthusiasm [for the Turks] demanded some immediate object, I resolved at once to begin the study of the Turkish language.

2 Browne, E. G., The press and poetry of modern Persia (Cambridge, 1914), pp. xxvi–xxxvii. In the introduction to his A year amongst the Persians, 8, Browne said: ‘It was the Turkish war with Russia in 1877–8 that first attracted my attention to the East, about which, till that time, I had known and cared nothing⃜Ere the close of the war I would have died to save Turkey, and I mourned the fall of Plevna as though it had been a disaster inflicted on my own country. And so gradually pity turned to admiration, and admiration to enthusiasm until the Turks became in my eyes veritable heroes, and the desire to identify myself with their cause, make my dwelling amongst them, and unite with them in the defence of their land, possessed me heart andsoul.’Google Scholar

3 When in 1901 Gibb died, only one volume of his History of Ottoman poetry had appeared. The rest of the work was nearly complete. Browne took it upon himself to complete the unfinished portions and to publish the work in its entirety.

4 Taqlzada, S. H, ‘The background of the constitutional movement in Azerbaijan’, translated by Keddie, N. R, The Middle East Journal, xiv (Autumn 1960), 456–65.Google Scholar

5 Keddie, Nikki R., ‘Is there a Middle East?’, International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 4, 1973, 267.Google Scholar

6 Gibb, E. J. W., A history of Ottoman poetry I (London, 1958), 133–4.Google Scholar

7 The technological superiority of the Turks over the Persians dates back to the early sixteenth century and lasted till the 1960s when Iran acquired from the West a great quantity of modern technology and technical know-how, and trained thousands of students and technicians in Western Europe and America. For years modern machinery used to be acquired in Turkey, e.g. a typographic printing press with Arabic and Latin letters bought in Istanbul in 1290 A.H./A.D. 1873.

8 Aliev, S. M., ‘K voprosu ob obshchestvienno politicheskikh svyazyakh prosvititeley Azerbaydjana, Irana i Turtzi vo vtoroy polovinie xix. vieka’, in Iran, Sbornik Statey, Akademia Nauk SSSR (Moscow, 1976), 110–23.Google Scholar

9 Husayn, Mìrzā, Farāhaāī, Safarnāma (Tehran, 1965), 150.Google Scholar

10 Farmayan, Hafez Farman, ‘The forces of modernization in nineteenth-century Iran’, in Polk, W. R. and Chambers, R. L.[ed.½, Beginnings of modernization in the Middle East (Chicago, 1968), 130.Google Scholar

11 Taqīzāda later criticized the Persian language of Istanbul, in an article published in Kāva of December 13, 1920.

12 Ibrāhīm, ṧafā'ī, Rahbarān–i Mashròta (Tehran, 1346s).Google Scholar

13 Browne, E. G., A literary history of Persia, IV (Cambridge, 1928), 468.Google Scholar

14 Browne, E. G., The Persian revolution of 1905–1909 (repr. London, 1966), 46.Google Scholar

15 The school is still in operation in the Sultan Ahmet district of Istanbul.

16 Browne, E. G., The Persian revolution of 19051909, 13.Google Scholar

17 For a detailed biography of Danish see Irdnshahr, No. 5, 1343, 18–32.

18 Browne, E. G., A literary history of Persia IV, p.viii. Hājjī Mīrzā Yahyī of Dawlatābād, like Shaykh Ahmad Rŭhī and H. Dānish was a resident of Istanbul. The Ottoman Public Debt was established in 1881. Dānish was its employee for some 24 years.Google Scholar

19 There are 45 letters preserved. They are held by Dānish's relatives in Istanbul. The letters written by Danish to Browne are held at Cambridge, but I have not had an opportunity toexamine them.

20 Irānshahr, No.5, 1343, 33–44.

21 For Tevfik's biography see: Türk Ansiklopedisi, VII, 36–7 and Irānshahr, No. 1, 22 march, 1926, 30–34.Google Scholar

22 Gibb, E. J. W., A history of Ottoman poetry, v, p. vi.Google Scholar

23 Gibb, op. cit., VI, preface.

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