Book Reviews 445 when compared to the elites of the empire. However, they were not entirely poor or powerless either. Since the Ottoman Empire went through a period of autonomous rulers and private ownership of land in provinces, the cities attracted more wealth and power. Accordingly, some commoners seized the chance to become a man of letters during this period of new opportunities. As the position of these writers improved, they wanted to memorialize their own lives in writing. Sajdi summarizes the aspiration of these authors with reference to a quote from Abd al-Ghani Nablusi, a contemporary saint and scholar: Nablusi had said that “a book in a dream means power,” and these chroniclers gained power by realizing the dream of a book. Like Ibn Budary, Vogorides and Eşref also left their memoires behind. Each one lived in a different century and inhabited in a distinct part of the empire where they had a unique experience. For a long time, Ottoman historians ignored the voices of commoners; biographical studies were dismissed as prosaic, ahistorical, and subjective. Yet the last two decades of Ottoman studies have followed the newer trends such as global microhistory and produced new monographs on individuals.
Journal of World History – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Mar 19, 2019
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