Dreams and Lives in Ottoman Istanbul: A Seventeenth-Century Biographer's Perspective, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Dreams and Lives in Ottoman Istanbul

A Seventeenth-Century Biographer's Perspective, 1st Edition

By Asli Niyazioglu


148 pages

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pub: 2016-11-11
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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



About the Author

Asli Niyazioglu 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.

About the Series

Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Studies

Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Studies is devoted to the history, culture and archaeology of the Byzantine and Ottoman worlds of the East Mediterranean region from the fifth to the twentieth century. It provides a forum for the publication of research completed by scholars from the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK, and those with similar research interests from around the world.

For further information about the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General