Dreams and Lives in Ottoman Istanbul explores biography writing and dream narratives in seventeenth-century Istanbul. It focuses on the prominent biographer ‘Aṭā’ī (d. 1637) and with his help shows how learned circles narrated dreams to assess their position in the Ottoman enterprise. This book demonstrates that dreams provided biographers not only with a means to form learned communities in a politically fragile landscape but also with a medium to debate the correct career paths and social networks in late sixteenth and early seventeenth-century Istanbul.
By adopting a comparative approach, this book engages with current scholarly dialogues about life-writing, dreams, and practices of remembrance in Habsburg Spain, Safavid Iran, Mughal India and Ming China. Recent studies have shown the shared rhythms between these contemporaneous dynasties and the Ottomans, and there is now a strong interest in comparative approaches to examining cultural life. This first English-language monograph on Ottoman dreamscapes addresses this interest and introduces a world where dreams changed lives, the dead appeared in broad daylight, and biographers invited their readers to the gardens of remembrance.
Table of Contents
Note on Transliteration and Manuscripts
Chapter One: The Biographer Between This World and the Hereafter
Patrons and Adversaries
Sufi Sheikhs and the Very Special Dead
Father and Son
Chapter Two: Collection of Lives as a Well-Ordered Garden
Ottoman Biographers and Sufi Lives: An Overview
A Well-Ordered Garden: Empire, Decorum and Exclusivity
Gardener at Work: ‘Aṭā’ī and His Sources
Chapter Three: From This World to the Realm of Dreams
Dreams, Careers and Biographers
Nightmares on the Sufi Path
Hereafter in the Mirror of Dreams
Chapter Four: The Dead and Visits from the Hereafter
The Living and the Dead in Seventeenth-Century Istanbul
Apparitions and Embraces
Dreams and Tokens of Remembrance
Appendix: Sample Biographical Notice
Aslı Niyazioğlu is Assistant Professor of History at Koç University, Istanbul. After receiving her PhD from Harvard University in 2003, she taught at the University of Oxford and was a fellow at Wissenschaftskolleg Institute of Advanced Study at Berlin. She works on early modern Ottoman history with a special interest in the lives of poets, scholars, and Sufis of Istanbul.