“Love In The Days of Rebellion” by Ahmet Altan

This article is also available in: Italiano

We finally present “Love In The Days of Rebellion”, the second chapter of “Ottoman Quartet”, a series by Ahmet Altan that will take us to an Istanbul more than ever on fire. The Young Turks are upon us and the sultan’s throne begins to get more and more shaky …

Love In The Days of Rebellion

The novel opens immediately after the suicide attempt of Hikmet Bey, son of the sultan’s personal doctor, as he tries to forget the woman at the origin of his sadness, his wife, the beautiful and proud Mehpare Hanım. While in a hospital in Thessaloniki Hikmet slowly regains his strength and the will to live, things change in the Ottoman capital. The sultan’s power is threatened, a revolt is brewing, the streets of Istanbul become the scene of all violence. We are on the eve of an episode of the end of the Empire: the counter-revolution of March 31, 1909.

Second part

“Love in the Days of Rebellion” takes us back to the magical atmosphere we left in “Like a Sword Wound“, combining them with an increasingly intricate and deepened political situation. If in the previous novel we were at the origins of the revolt, here she is the master, conditioning the life of all the characters who will be forced to adapt or perish. This is probably the biggest novelty of this second chapter, capable of upsetting the protagonists’ approach to their own environment. The absolute emblem of all this will be Sultan Abdul Hamid II and Hikmet Bey.

Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the last to exercise real power in the Ottoman Empire

The first, to a certain extent, is the true protagonist of the work, perfectly embodying the disease that afflicts the Empire and which, right from the start, seems destined to destroy it. From the very first moment, in fact, there will be no doubts about the fate of this revolt, as well as about that of the ruler in office. Very poetic, then, as the sultan’s lodgings will be described, now beautiful from the outside but in ruins on the inside. Hikmet Bey, on the other hand, the active character par excellence in the first novel, will undergo an incredible evolution which probably represents the movement of the entire popular uprising.

Destroy to create

If in the first chapter he was the seducer par excellence, in “Love in the Days of Rebellion”, the character will be forced to build his fame absolutely from scratch, worrying for a long time to survive rather than to live. The glories of the past are very far away, but this will give the character the opportunity to restart his life from scratch, eliminating forever what had made him suffer and laying the foundations for a future that he would never have imagined.

Enver Pasha

Another character with a similar history is Ragıp Bey, a soldier with a strong sense of justice who joined the Young Turks to restore order in the Empire. It will be through his eyes that we will observe the revolt and the consequences, managing immediately to guess what the future of the country will be. With increasing insistence, in fact, the names of Enver Bey, Talaat Pasha and Mustafa Kemal will begin to resonate, characters who will forever mark the history of Turkey, going to occupy every history book.

A quote

“Never judge anyone with your own standard of judgment, everyone must be judged with their own. It is immoral whoever betrays their beliefs, not yours.” Sheikh Yusuf Effendi

Written very well and complete, “Love in the Days of Rebellion” will reveal to you one of the hardest and most hidden periods of Ottoman history, making it interesting both from a narrative and a historiographic point of view.

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