Author Archives: Sharon Wood

Another wanderer in Istanbul makes me wonder how Evliya and James Baldwin would have gotten along

from the Washington Post, February 27, 2017 Middle East Fleeing anger in America, James Baldwin found solace in 1960s Turkey By Kareem Fahim February 27 at 5:00 AM American writer James Baldwin in Istanbul. (Sedat Pakay) ISTANBUL — There is no trace of James Baldwin in the four-story building where he lived for a time, […]
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Another Evliya fan: Edward White

Thanks to Caroline Finkel for forwarding this. Edward White captures Evliya’s spirit, while also in the tradition of Evliya, gets some facts wrong for the sake of storytelling. It’s a fun read. Boon Companion
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Evliya in Medina

I’ve been condensing my Evliya Çelebi treatment to reach the required 10 pages for an upcoming grant deadline. Since Evliya’s own manuscript is approximately 14,000 pages long, he’s not a good influence – though his individual stories can be remarkably concise. On Monday, July 4th, I’d finished trimming Evliya’s affectionate tribute to the Prophet Muhammad’s […]
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Baby steps

While Evliya Çelebi expressed sincere and often heartfelt feelings about people, animals and events, he generally maintained an ironic view of life. I guess that makes it particularly appropriate that I came from California to Turkey planning to visit many of the places Evliya described, and find myself stuck in a room, unable to travel […]
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Still life with velcro boot

A week ago, I went out in the afternoon because the weather was so beautiful, looking for a café named after Evliya Çelebi that I’d heard about. I took my eyes off the road for a minute and twisted my ankle on uneven pavement, which is everywhere here. The doctor took x-rays and said it […]
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Sunday rambles, circumscribed

The present keeps intruding on my efforts to dive into the past. Of course, the past’s impact on the present, whether unacknowledged or selectively burnished, is everywhere. Fortunately, much of what I need to do during this trip is read and write. It’s a warm, bright Sunday. Warned again to avoid tourist spots, I went […]
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Happy 415th, Evliya Çelebi!

Ottoman historian Caroline Finkel (Osman’s Dream) has a great idea for celebrating Evliya Çelebi’s birthday: name a new bridge being built after the traveler who not only passed through the region four centuries ago but described in his Book of Travels. Here is Dr. Finkel’s article from the Hurriyet Daily News: Let’s call Turkey’s new […]
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Translation dependence syndrome

The photograph above shows the view from my Turkish language classroom at 9am when class starts, and (below) at 11am, with 2 more hours of class to go. Inside, Americans are the linguistic lightweights (no surprise there.) It’s an intensive course so Turkish is spoken almost exclusively. Occasionally the teacher or a student says something […]
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The Condor flies in Istanbul

I heard El Condor Pasa today. In 1970, Paul Simon included the song, originally an Andean folk melody, then adapted by Peruvian composer and ethnomusicologist Daniel Alomia Robles, in Bridge Over Troubled Waters. That may partly explain how these Latin American musicians ended up performing the song in Istanbul. It doesn’t begin to explain what […]
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Off to a good start

On Friday I accompanied a class field trip from my host institution, Koç University, on a circuitous route from a metro stop to the Süleymaniye Mosque. We approached the mosque complex from a small residential street that currently boasts more cars than residences. The mosque itself of course is stunning, and  I want to go […]
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