The Nafs al-Amr-Name Texts as a Popular Genre of Social Criticism in Ottoman Literary Culture: Their Linguistic, Thematic, and Stylistic Features

Turan F.



The literary culture of Ottoman Turkish has a certain group of prose texts known as the Nafs al-amr-name that first appeared in the 16th century and focused on criticizing and satirizing certain behaviors of ordinary people and public officials as their main theme and tone. LamiMODIFIER LETTER LEFT HALF RINGi celebi is considered the author of the pioneering text of this humorous genre, which also contains many slang words as part of its diction. Apart from LamiMODIFIER LETTER LEFT HALF RINGi celebi, other known authors of the genre include Niksarizade Efendi and Kurbi Mehmed Said Efendi. In some of sample texts from later periods, the authors' names are not shown. The syntactic structure of these texts is based on compound-complex sentences. One important part of the criticized attitudes and behaviors concerns the habits of eating and drinking, dressing, speaking, and other social behaviors. In order to criticize and condemn those who display undesirable attitudes, the authors extensively employed insulting and derogatory slang words that mostly occur in everyday colloquial language. The comic effect is usually based on the ironic and contradictory situations in these texts. Currently, three variants of the Nafs al-amr-name by Lami`i celebi are known. The fact that authors' names are not mentioned in some copies of the later texts indicates that the genre was seen as a type of anonymous polyphonic public forum for the discourse of social opposition. The fact that texts have been copied numerous times with minor differences and are found in various bound handwritten anthologies in which dissenting social views and criticisms are also reflected indicates the function of the genre to have been as a literary public forum.