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İstanbul of the Mind

While traveling through, İstanbul can often prove overwhelming for tourists and locals alike, people often find different strategies to make sense of their experiences. Several foreigners have drawn on a lexicon of tropes and/or images that represent the city as strange and mysterious – the epitome of eastern promise. By doing so they invoke the kind of orientalist metaphors that date as far back as the mid-eighteenth century, when western aristocrats embarking on the Grand Tour became fascinated with the Ottoman Empire. This stance suggests a basic resistance to empathizing with other cultures: although İstanbul might prove fascinating, its charms are best kept at a distance.

İstanbul of the Mind

İstanbul Passage

By Joseph Kanon

London: Simon and Schuster, 2013, 404 pages, $11.85, ISBN 978147398345


 

İstanbul: Perfect Gems of City Writing

By İlhan Çiler

London: Oxygen Books in association with the British Council, 2013, 254 pages, £9.99, ISBN 9780955970092


 

Sailing Through Byzantium

By Maureen Freely

Edinburgh: Linen Press, 2013, 278 pages, $13.65, ISBN 9780957596818

 

While traveling through, İstanbul can often prove overwhelming for tourists and locals alike, people often find different strategies to make sense of their experiences. Several foreigners have drawn on a lexicon of tropes and/or images that represent the city as strange and mysterious – the epitome of eastern promise. By doing so they invoke the kind of orientalist metaphors that date as far back as the mid-eighteenth century, when western aristocrats embarking on the Grand Tour became fascinated with the Ottoman Empire. This stance suggests a basic resistance to empathizing with other cultures: although İstanbul might prove fascinating, its charms are best kept at a distance.

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