“Like a Sword Wound” by Ahmet Altan

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Ahmet Altan‘s novel brings us back to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, between pasha and rioters as a background to an increasingly ruinous fall.

Like a Sword Wound

The novel tells the story of Mehpare Hanim, a mysterious and charming woman, capable of seducing even Sheikh Yusuf Effendi, an illustrious master of a school of dervishes. Realizing the soul of his bride, the Sheikh will however be forced to part with it, even without ceasing to think about it. Mehpare Hanim will soon find new love in Hüseyin Hikmet Bey, son of the sultan’s official doctor and fresh from his return from France, where he trained according to Western customs. The union of these 2 souls will however be made irreconcilable by the soul of Mehpare and by the imminent transformation of the Great Sick, the Ottoman Empire which is experiencing its last moments of life. Will it be up to the Organization for the Union and Progress to transform it or will it be its executioner?

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A great historical novel

Ahmet Altan has the ability to drag us with words to look at the world from his point of view, very often from the most magical points of his Istanbul. The descriptions of the city are one of the things that perhaps strikes the most, even the smallest details are studied with meticulous care, to bring the mind back to the last moments of a centuries-long glory. The decline of society and the sense of expectation can be felt throughout the book, perfectly showing the historical moment of that time with all the doubts of the case. The novel, however, goes fully into the lives of the protagonists, managing to get closer to the characters and their battles and thus also showing us the more human side under this great Revolution. If you want to know the end of the Sublime Gate and love Istanbul, you cannot miss “Like the wound of a sword” by Ahmet Altan.

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