"Hickman has done his own magnificent job of storytelling. Expressed in an engaging and accessible prose, he combines an illuminating introduction with a sensitive rendering of the text, which captures both its charming simplicity and underlying spiritual power. This publication is an outstanding example of scholarly work suited to audiences from scholars to students and the general reading public."—Walter G. Andrews, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, University of Washington
"With his lively translation of Hamza’s The Story of Joseph, Hickman opens a window onto the religious imagination and moral landscape of fourteenth-century Anatolia. The ample preface and postscript render Hamza’s poem easily accessible to readers unfamiliar with the literature of medieval Turkish."—Leslie Pierce, Department of History, New York University
At the heart of this volume is the translation of a fourteenth-century Turkish version of the Joseph story, better known to Western readers from the version in Genesis, first book of the Hebrew Bible. Hickman provides us with a new lens: we see the drama of the Old Testament prophet Joseph, son of Jacob, through Muslim eyes. The poem’s author, Sheyyad Hamza, lived in Anatolia during the early days of the Ottoman Empire. Hamza’s composition is rooted in the recondite and little-studied tradition of oral performance—a unique corner of Turkish verbal arts, situated between minstrelsy and the “divan” tradition—combining the roles of preacher and storyteller. A cultural document as well as a literary text that reflects the prevailing values of the time, Hamza’s play reveals a picture of Ottoman sensibility, both aesthetic and religious, at the level of popular culture in premodern Turkey. To supplement and contextualize the story, Hickman includes an introduction, a historical-literary afterword, and notes to the
translation, all ably assisting an unfamiliar reader’s entry into this world.
Bill Hickman is former associate professor of Turkish language and literature at the University of California, Berkeley, now retired.
5.5 x 8, 168 pages