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Individual and community, public and private: the case of a 17th-century Istanbulite dervish and his diary

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2019
Yakar, Gülşen
This thesis is an attentive reading of the earliest known diary written in the Ottoman Turkish and referred as Sohbetnâme in the secondary literature. Authored by an Istanbulite Halveti-Sünbüli dervish, Seyyid Hasan , and kept between the years 1661-1665, the diary provides an unmatched insight into the daily life of the author and lives of his close-knit social milieu of family and companions. The framework of this thesis is inspired by the existing tensions that literature on ego-documents and discussions on individuality presents by locating the pairs of individual-community and public-private in contradistinction to each other. The primary attempt of this thesis is to locate Sohbetnâme within the context of historiography on ego-documents and individuality. The main aim of the thesis is to relate the author to his community, and to provide a reading of the diary’s content on the axis of public and private life. The diary’s lack of thematic unity and its primary occupation with recording the daily life events provides the reader with a wide array of fragmentary information on many spheres of life in 17th -century Ottoman Istanbul. By providing the content of the diary under six subheadings and by evaluating the tone and fashioning of the author in each; this thesis concludes with a discussion on the probable motivations of the author for producing a written representation of his daily life and the possible value of the diary for his descendants in family and lodge circles.