The End of Great Periods: Late Ottoman Decadent Poetry and the End of the Ottoman Empire


  • Kaitlin Staudt


This article examines late Ottoman Decadence through the 1910 Fecr-i Atı [Dawn of the Future] manifesto and the literary criticism of its most famous signatory, Ahmet Haşim (1887-1933). Through this case study, I explore what Kristin Mahoney has called the ‘political utility of decadence’ within the Ottoman-Turkish sphere. Haşim’s writing across the Ottoman Empire-Turkish Republic divide illustrates the ways in which the aesthetic practices and linguistic register of Ottoman poetry were increasingly understood in the final decades of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as displaying the markers of literary greatness from a previous social order, ones which impeded the development of a uniquely Turkish national literature. In other words, for certain literary critics, deploying the aesthetic practices of Ottoman poetry became linked to a specifically Ottoman imperial decline and, consequently, also became shorthand for implying the connection between certain aesthetic practices and Turkey’s political progress in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.