• This working paper presents a full and annotated translation of two titles by 19th-century Ottoman author-cum-statesman Ziya Pasha: (1) a newspaper article written in exile, modern in terms of format and reformist in terms of tenor and providing an staunch and iconoclastic critique of Ottoman language and literature, and (2) the versified preface to his seminal three-language anthology of “Ottoman literature”, the Ḫarābāt, traditional in terms of format and conservative or even reactionary in terms of subject matter.
    Laudable and making sense in their own term, when juxtaposed, these two titles provide a puzzling duality and raise some difficult questions. What is Ottoman language? The deplorable bastard son of the union of Arabic and Persian, or rather a vast ocean of linguistic and literary potential unmatched by any other language? What is Ottoman literature? The blind imitation of hackneyed words and images taken from Arabic and Persian, or rather a festive banquet unprecedented? What is popular literature? The way forward to rid ourselves from blind imitation, or rather not even literature but merely the “braying of donkeys” in the street? And what exactly is Ziya Pasha? A hypocrite iki yüzlü or “Janus-faced” author, or rather a genuine reflection of his era’s ikilik ruhu or “spirit of duality”?