The Age of Beloveds
offers a rich introduction to early modern Ottoman culture through a study of its beautiful lyric love poetry. At the same time, it suggests provocative cross-cultural parallels in the sociology and spirituality of love in Europe—from Istanbul to London—during the long sixteenth century. Walter G. Andrews and Mehmet Kalpakli provide a generous sampling of translations of Ottoman poems, many of which have never appeared in English, along with informative and inspired close readings. The authors explain that the flourishing of Ottoman power and culture during the “Turkish Renaissance” manifested itself, to some degree, as an “age of beloveds,” in which young men became the focal points for the desire and attention of powerful officeholders and artists as well as the inspiration for a rich literature of love.
The authors show that the “age of beloveds” was not just an Ottoman, eastern European, or Islamic phenomenon. It extended into western Europe as well, pervading the cultures of Venice, Florence, Rome, and London during the same period. Andrews and Kalpakli contend that in an age dominated by absolute rulers and troubled by war, cultural change, and religious upheaval, the attachments of dependent courtiers and the longings of anxious commoners aroused an intense interest in love and the beloved. The Age of Beloveds reveals new commonalities in the cultural history of two worlds long seen as radically different.