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«September 2019»
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Love and Violence: Literary Transmissions of the Image of the Janissaries among the non-Muslim Communities across the Ottoman Empire in the 19th c.

My project displays the intricate entanglements of literary histories among the different communities in the Ottoman context of the 19th c. It reveals the unknown history of reception of the French novel "Les Janissaires" by Alphonse Royer"(1842) in Greek, Bulgarian, Romanian, Karamanlica and Armenian language. The case study of the rapid translation wave of this piece of sentimental literature within just several decades (1840s-1860s) clarifies my main objective of research. It is that the literary interactions between the intellectual elite of the non-Muslim communities lead to transmissions of concepts, images, and perceptions of emotions, that were much more dynamic and influential than the National literary histories would have us to believe.

Firstly, the study announces the discovery of the original author of the novel - Alphonse Royer (1803-1875) whose influence on the Ottoman readership has not been researched so far, as he was better known as an opera librettist and a traveler than as a novelist. My project, however, will concentrate mainly on the novel "Les Janissaires", which participated in a larger process of reproduction of Orientalized images by means of literature. By analyzing the text and its reception I put a special emphasis on the way the image of the Janissary order has been associated with violence and transmitted to the original fictional prose, written by the intellectuals from these communities to enhance the process of building the national consciousness.

The novel was also an influential source for the introduction of new norms for social interactions, presumed as indicators of Western civilization. The historical events that lead to the end of the Janissary order provide the setting for an inter-religious love affair, which is central to the plot. "Les Janissaires" by Alphonse Royer, thus, can also be interpreted in the light of the history of emotions, especially in regard to the introduction of the sentimental love story to the Ottoman readership.

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