ISSN: 0041-4255
e-ISSN: 2791-6472

Himmet Umunç

Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Letters. Hacettepe University

Keywords: Renaissance, Turkish Landscape, English Travel Writings, Turkey, Geography

On taking leave of his love-sick bosom friend Proteus, who is staying behind in Verona and not interested in travel, Shakespeare's Valentine in The Two Gendeman of Verona, about to set out on a journey, remonstrates with him:

Were't not affection chains thy tender days
To the sweet glances of thy honour'd love,
I rather would entreat thy company
To see the wonders of the world abroad
Than, living dully sluggardiz'd at home,
Wear out thy youth with shapeless idleness.


Contrasted with Proteus's indolence, apparently fostered by his sensuous disposition, Valentine's determined involvement in active life through adventure and travel will enable him to be "tried and tutor'd in the world" (I.iii.21) in order to become "o perfect man" (I.iii.20); otherwise, as Panthino the servant points out to his master Antonio, Proteus's father, for a young man, it

would be great impeachment to his age,
In having known no travel in his youth.


Through his Proteus-Valentine representation, Shakespeare was obviously reflecting the Renaissance perception of travel as a means of exploration and, thereby, cultivation for moral and intellectual selfimprovement. In this regard, it was an activity related to what the Renaissance Platonists called vita activa (active life), which, together with vita contemplativa (contemplative life) and vita voluptuosa (pleasurable life), constituted “a complete man” with a tripartite life (Wind 81-82). As Wind has pointed out with reference to the Florentine Platonist Ficino, “to pursue any one of [these modes of life] at the expense of the odiers is [...] wr ong, or even blasphemous” (82). Accordingly, as young men, neither Proteus nor Valentine has yet become a perfect man. However, by choosing travel and, hence, an active mode of life, and also by falling in love with Silvia, daughter of the Duke of Milan (II.i.16 if.), Valentine has already embarked on a process of moral and intellectual self-improvement, which is ultimately to lead him to a contemplative mode of life in the Platonic sense. Proteus, on the other hand, has had to exert himself, with his father’s encouragement, also to pursue an active life (I.iii.65-67) so that in the end, like Valentine, he becomes capable of attaining moral and intellecmal perfection.

Indeed, both in the Renaissance and in the post-Renaissance period, exploration and cultivation were considered to be the fundamental paradigms of travel. For instance, Francis Bacon’s essay “Of Trauaile” (73- 76) opens with tire precept that

trauaile, in the younger Sort, is a Part of Education; in the Elder, a Part of Experience. He that trauaileth into a Country [...] goeth to Schoole, and not to Trauaile (73).

Admittedly, these two paradigms have continued to be the invariably recurrent, though less explicitly emphasized, objectives of travel down to our time. For instance, Freya Stark emphasized back in the late 1940s that “every good journey must have in it some measure of exploration, and, if possible, an effort of our own” (Perseus 144) and that "travel is necessary to an understanding of men" (Perseus 147). Obviously, by her perception of travel as such, in addition to the pleasures of exploration and discovery, she was also gesturing to the selfs encounter with die Other in a constructive and interactive way leading to a fruitful process of cultivation for die self itself as well as for the Other. In diis respect, Terry Caesar has also maintained that “personal development” and “ethical cultivation” are among the essenual aims of travel (111).

However, especially from the eighteenth century onwards when European imperialism and colonialism, with Britain in particular in the forefront, acquired a growing intensity of ideological and pragmatic significance as the political domination and economic exploitation of other peoples and geographies (Langford 376 and 407 ff.; Said, Orientalism 3 et passim, and Culture and Imperialism 8-11; Umunç 111-13), European travel also came to embody, and be characterized by, charaterized by, various other and often various other and often antagonistic paradigms; among these paradigms, which inform most travelogues written with a colonial and imperial awareness, and constitute a polysemic discourse in them, can be mentioned Otherness, discrimination, prejudice, racism, stereotyping, historical and ethnical antagonism, bigoted solipsism, indifference, condescension and so forth. Hence, the dichotomy between die traditional exploration-cultivation paradigm on die one hand, and these antagonistic paradigms of the colonial and imperial eras on the other is a recurrent pattern of attitude which pervades European travel accounts from the eighteenth century' onwards. Concerning such a dichotomy, one may quote Dennis Porter’s statement that

at best [...] European travel writing has been an effort to overcome cultural distance through a protracted act of understanding. At worst it has been the vehicle for the expression of Eurocentric conceit or racist intolerance (3).

In fact, the invariably recurrent attitude displayed by European or, more broadly, Western travel writers towards aliens, or when they are themselves situated in an alien geography, has been their constant succumb to what Porter has rightly termed “cultural solipsism” (5), that is, their conviction that, unlike die native Others of their narratives, they belong to a better and higher culture and that their values are the only valid ones. Hence, the relationship between the Western traveller and the native Other can metaphorically be compared to the Crusoe-Friday or Prospero-Caliban relationship in which the solipsistic and hegemonic self maintains a distanced but domineering attitude towards die discriminated nadve Other. Although travel with its traditional paradigm of exploradon and cultivation can be defined as what Porter has called “a dialogic engagement with alien modes of life” (5), or as a conscious and concerted attempt “to fit in with an alien way of life" (Eisner 16) whereby the traveller is expected to leave his/her solipsism behind and embark upon a process of discovery and learning, this positive essence of travel is often spoiled and subverted by a series of antagonistic perceptions and attitudes which are shaped by or grounded in a colonialist and imperialist cultural background. Consequently, by observing through the perspective and fixed values of his/her own solipsism, the traveller’s self transforms, appropriates, subverts, stereotypes or re-shapes the alien Other’s identity, culture, and geography in order to make the encounter conventionalized and less traumatic for itself. The point may further be illustrated and emphasized by Porter’s aptly worded statement:

From the beginning, writers of travel have more or less uncounsciously made it their purpose to take a fix on and thereby fix the world in which they found themselves; they are engaged in a form of cultural cartography that is impelled by an anxiety to map the globe, center it on a certain point, produce explanatory narratives, and assign fixed identities to regions and the races that inhabit them. Such representations are always concerned with the question of place and of placing, of situating oneself once and for all vis-à-vis an Other or others. They are also an integral part of the ideological practice of eveiy social formation that becomes aware of the existence of more or less remote lands and neighboring peoples (20-21).

Although Porter’s statement seems to be a concise reference to the cultural, political, ideological, and social paradigms upon which travel writers, in general, rely in representing their encounter with the natives of other geographies, specifically it highlights the intrinsic nature of European travel writing. Indeed, with European travel in mind, a similar point has also been made by Steve Clark who has suggested that “to a certain extent [...] travel writing is inevitably one-way traffic, because the Europeans mapped the world rather than the world mapping them” (3); moreover, for him, European travel writings, considered in ideological and imperial terms, invariably reiterate “the strong historical connection of exploration with exploitation and occupation” (3) and encode “the productive force of imperial ideology” (9). One can further argue that, since exploitation and occupation are among the primary and immediate pragmatics of imperial ideology, the geographical environment, in which these pragmatics are to be carried ont, direcdy becomes a predominantly economic and hegemonic concern for the imperialist colonizer. Culturally and anthropologically it is also textualized and mediated through pro-imperialist travel wri tings which represent it through a variety of discourses informed by a wide range of perceptions deriving from exoticism, idealization, and romanticism, on the one hand, and from marginalization, indifference, solipsism, and antagonism, on the other. In other words, because, according to Kay Milton, “human-environment relations are mediated by culture” (40), the traveller who is historically and culturally situated in a social context of imperial ideology and colonialist politics enters an alien geography, which makes up the landscape, with his/her own prejudices, concepts, and values, and reconstructs it in the light of his/her own cultural and ideological background., Consequently, in the resulting travel narrative the new and alien landscape encountered by the traveller is represented through various and often epistemically distorted discourses. Since landscape representations in travel narratives can be regarded as subspecies of nature writing which, as Betsy S. Hilbert has claimed, “has its roots in uavel writing” (29), a critique of such representations inevitably benefits from an ecocritical literacy, which has acquired much scholarly popularity, particularly in the West, over a decade or so (Maze! 1-19; Branch and Slovic xiii-xxiii; Oppermann, 29-46). If we recall that ecocriticism “inquires into the ways in which nature is marginalized, silenced, or pushed [...] 'into a hazy backdrop against which die ratiphal human subject struts upon’” (Oppermann, 32), a discussion of the alien natural environment represented in travel writings as the Other geography, whether romanticized as an exotic, oriental setting or described as a hostile wilderness, becomes an ecocritical attempt to reconceptualize and redefine this environment as it really is.

Therefore, when we turn, by taking these preliminary remarks as a framework of reference, to English travellers’ representation of the Turkish landscape, which is the main concern of this paper, we can observe and trace various cultural paradigms, fostered by a fundamentally privileged imperial ideology and intrinsically related to a binary opposition of the British self and the alien other. In diis regard we may recall Dorothy Carrington who pointed out back in die late 1940s that

if English travel literature tells how Englishmen have looked upon the world, inevitably it tells how they have acted in it. That is die story of the empire (qtd. Clark 3).

Accordingly, one may add, the travel narratives of the Empire days invariably maintained an imperialistic discourse and served the aims of Empire. By using all kinds of literary devices and cultural paradigms, the English travellers of the imperial past narrated their journeys in alien geographies with a solipsistic and hegemonic attitude. This is particularly true of their travel narratives about Turkey. Hence, in what follows as a discussion of this point, reference will be made to the texts by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1761), Richard Chandler (1738-1810), Alexander Kinglake (18091891), Gertrude Bell (1868-1926), and Freya Stark (1893-1993), who represent different periods of English travel in Turkey, and whose accounts of tlreir journeys are informed and enabled by a sense of imperialism and solipsism. In other words, their travel narratives encode and privilege an imperialistic ideology which becomes the framework of a dichotomy encompassing an imposing self and an othered Turkish environment with its people, culture, society, institutions, and landscape. Especially, the ecocultural subtexts of their narratives provide us with a changing perspective of the Turkish landscape from the eighteenth to the midtwentieth century.

If one accepts Robert Kern’s ecocritical statement, privileging David Abram’s view in The Spell of the Sensuous, that “the land [...] is the 'primary visual counterpart of spoken utterance, the visible accompaniment of all spoken meaning’ [and that] it is ‘the sensible site or matrix wherein meaning occurs and proliferates’” (259), it is clearly to be noted that the English travellers’ solipsistic, imperialistic or őrien talistic discourse on Turkey acquires a further dimension through their descriptions and observations of the landscape. For them, die Turkish landscape, which serves as a metaphorical projection of their cultural discourse, becomes, on the one hand, an exotic and mystifying epitome of the romanticized East as in the case of Lady Montagu and, on die Other, as in the eyes of the other travellers we refer to in this paper, it is an inhospitable terrain, which, desolate with frequent epidemics of plague and cholera, is inhabited by an uncouth and uncivilized people and lacking many amenides of civilization such as roads, urban planning, efficient transportation, good hotels and restaurants, and various other sendees and facilities. In this respect, they see the Turkish landscape as a quite strange environment which, with its variable flora and fauna, embody many deprivations and fraught with unexpected dangers, although it possesses occasional sights of scenic beauty. So, their travel texts provide much evidence whereby their representation of the Turkish landscape as the Other geography can be read as an indirect, subtextual and implicit account of racial antagonism, hegemonic attitude, otherness, negative stereotyping, solipsistic condescension, colonizing temperament, imperialistic self-righteousness, and oriental romanticism. However, these paradigms do not receive the same degree of emphasis and transparency in the texts since it is each traveller’s individual subjectivity of attitude that privileges them in his or her descriptions of Turkey. For instance, for Lady Montagu, who was in Turkey as the wife of the British ambassador Edward Wortley Montagu from early 1717 to mid-1718 (104 and 179), it was her romanticized perception of the East and her enthusiasm for adventure that intrinsically shaped her vision of Turkey. This oriental and alien environment provided her with an exotic setting which served her as a backdrop for her fantastic and, in places, exaggerated narratives. Indeed, in a letter of 01 April 1717 (104-06), wr itten to a lady friend in England from “Adrianople" (Edirne) where she was to stay over until mid-May after her long and arduous journey via Vienna and through die Balkans (93-104 and 107), she reveals her enthusiasm at die prospect of exploring Turkey as an excitingly exodc environment when she states that

I am now got into a new world, where everything I see appears to me a change of scene (104).

She reiterates the same perception in another letter of the same date (129-30), written to a Mrs Hewet, a Nottinghamshire friend of hers (xlviii):

This country is certainly one of the finest in the world; hitherto all I see is so new to me, it is like a fresh scene of an opera every day (129).

In fact. Lady Montagu’s narratives of Tur key can be regarded as a set of emotional registers which are permeated by her personal impressions and romantic orientalism. Motivated by her fantasies of die East and guided by her unrestrained curiosity, she presents avision of Turkey, which, somewhat covertly recalling the exoticism of The Arabian Nights, blends fact and fiction in order not only to give a picturesque and captivating account of her adventures and observations in an oriental geography but also, by offering in her letters "a full and true relation of the novelties of dús place [Turkey]" (114), to cater for her correspondents' desire to learn about dús geography and its people (106,117,125 et passim). Therefore, in her descripdons and portrayals she deliberately refrains from adopting an explicidy antagonistic attitude and, instead, uses a syniPathedc and infonnatory discourse which, in style and tone, resembles colonial narratives describing colonized lands and their natives as strange and most peculiar others. Indeed, since such narratives are essendally constructed through a sense of what one may call "the exotic lure of difference" (Campbell 257), similarly Lady Montagu's representadon of Turkey is also characterized by such a sense; she is so overcome by die lure of Turkey's oriental difference that she narrates her observations as if she were in a land of extraordinary wonders newly discovered. For her, with its goddess-like graceful women (105, 111, 115, 149, 158-59, and 169), alluring harems (130-34, 149 and 153-59), magnificent palaces and kiosks (127-28, 132, 163 and 174-75), beautiful mosques (138-39 and 164-65), colourfully and richly dressed janissaries and spahis (112 and 140), and whirling dervishes (166-67), Turkey possesses all the mysteries that make up the contemporary European reveries of the East. Moreover, this oriental splendour is situated in an idealized landscape which enhances the dream-like effect of her narratives; spacious and exquisitely decorated homes, which are furnished with fine Persian carpets, velvet sofas, and embroidered satin cushions and also perfumed by jasmines and honeysuckles (127-28, 131-32, 154, 159, and 174-75), cupolaed mosques (138-39 and 163-64) gardens with marble fountains, flowers, cypresses, and fruit trees (118, 128, 140 and 156), busy and crowded bazaars (135-36, 139 and 165-66), carefree and pleasure-loving people (118-19, 133-34 and 144), pageants (112 and 137-38) and caravans of camels (125-26) all add up to this effect, and the imperial city of Istanbul with its busding populace of very many ethnicities (161-62 and 178) becomes the focal point of this romanticized oriental landscape.

When Richard Chandler visited Turkey nearly half a century after Lady Montagu, he neither cherished nor displayed any sentiment or perception similar to her romantic orientalism. As a classicist, who was academically affiliated with Oxford (Clay xi-xii), he was commissioned by the London Society of Dilettanti in 1764 to travel

to some parts of the East [namely, Turkey and Greece] in order to collect informations, and make observations, relative to the ancient state of those countries, and to such monuments of antiquity as are still remaining (Chandler 5).

On this mission of an archaeological survey in what is today die Aegean region of Turkey, he was accompanied by an architect and a painter for measurements and illustrations (Clay x). The team arrived in Çanakkale on 25 August 1764 aboard the English merchant ship The Anglicana (Chandler 15-16) and, after their explorations in die area (Chandler 20-41), continued their journey to Izmir (Chandler 44-54) which they had been instructed by the Society to make their "headquarters" for "excursions to the several remains of antiquity in [the] neighbourhood" (Chandler 6). Their excursions in die region, which covered a large geography of ancient sites including classical Ionian cities, parts of Caria, the Laodicea (Denizli) area, and Sardis, lasted nearly a year with die winter spent in Izmir, and on 18 August 1765 they sailed from Izmir to go to Greece for the second stage of their exploradons (Chandler 55-225).

Throughout his account of the non-archeological observations he makes of Turkey, Chandler displays, on the whole, a strongly antagonistic and hegemonic attitude which obviously stems from a sense of what Said has called "European superiority over Oriental backwardness" (Orientalism 7). Obviously, imbued with the British imperial ideology evoking in eighteenthcentury England (Unııınç 112-13) and aware of the axiomatic discourse of this ideology that European and, for that matter, British imperialism represents civilization against what Kiernan has called "the barbarism of outer darkness" (146), Chandler reveals his sense of superiority and implies his solipsistic view when he describes his very first encounter with the Turks at die port of Çanakkale:

After leaving the Anglicana, we had scarcely time to contemplate the savage figures of our boatmen, who had their necks and arms bare, and their faces yellow from the sun, before we reached the land. The current carried us below the casde, where we saw on the shore two Turkish women. But what figures! each wrapped in a white sheet, shapeless, and stalking in boots. A company of Turks, assembled on the beach to view the ship, seemed, as it were, a new species of human beings. They were in general large and tall; some with long, comely or venerable beards, of a portly mien and noble presence, to which their high turbans and loose garments, of various lively colours, greatly conn ibuted; adding, besides their majesty, to the apparent bulk of the wearers (16).

Yet, quite paradoxically, by emphasizing the majestic and impressive appearance and look of these Turkish figures, not only does he give his description an implicitly oriental contour, but he also seems to recall the traditional myth of the noble savage. In fact, this dichotomic perception is recurrent in his other representations of the Turkish identity. While, on the one hand, he uses a racist discourse and depicts the Turks as ferocious, mean, uncivilized, ill-looking, insolent and merciless (26, 43, 179-80, 193, 215, 223), on the other he commends them on account of their hospitality, friendly behaviour, generosity, piety, and unbiased respectfulness (26, 43-44, 100, 102, 104, 110, 142, 148). Therefore, it is within the framework of this dichotomic perception that Chandler’s representation of the Turkish geography is to be situated. Primarily, for Chandler, Turkey is an inhospitable land stricken by plague (17, 128 and 212-25) and inhabited by a savage people who torture and oppress the Christians (60 and 87). It is dotted by straggling and dirty towns:

in the evening we went [...] to view the town. We found the houses numerous, mostly of wood, and mean, and the streets very narrow (17).

This othering description concerning the town of Çanakkale, where Chandler's journey of archaeological explorations begins, essentially underscores a solipsistic prejudice with regard to oriental backwardness and is paralleled in tire descriptions of other Turkish towns (137,168, and 194); for instance, Izmir is referred to as a multiracial and multilingual prosperous metropolis (53 and 60-61), but

the streets [...] are so narrow and filthy, the houses so crowded, and the concourse of people in spring so great, that during the summer heats distemper could not fail to riot there, if the town were not regularly perflated by the inbat and land-breezes (222).

This sense of repellence with regard to the physical layout of Turkish towns is also reflected in some of Chandler's descriptions of the countryside. For him, although the plains are very fertile and produce various fruits and crops in abundance (62, 67, 127-28, 138, 140, 175 et passim) and also the mountains, "enlivened by flocks of sheep and goats" (67), are wooded, abounding in all kinds of fragrant flowers and shrubs (72, 96, 101, 105, 116 et passim), this idyllic pastorali ty is only local since the land is largely a wilderness infested by mosquitoes, flies, fleas and scorpions (62-63 and 111), made more treacherous by dangerous and impassable roads (79, 96, 104, 108, 116, 120, 141-42, 154-55, 191 et passim) and accommodating uninhabitable tillages scattered here and there (101, 116, 193, 121, 127, 203 et passim).

However, Chandler's geographical antagonism as such is contradicted by his archaeological and historical vision of Turkey as classical Asia Minor in which, as he demonstrates through his surveys and accounts, were situated many great cities of antiquity, and which abounded in the excellent works of classical Greek and Roman civilizations. It is this classical geography which he admires and meticulously depicts in opposition to the inhospitable Turkish geography of his time. Every classical site he visits, every construction he studies, every piece of a broken column he comes across, every inscribed stone he sees, and every mythological reference he recalls about a site allure him into a reverie of the classical past, and, overcome by such a reverie, he finds tire Turkish geography with its people and culture repellent. In other words, allured by the classical past, his self is displaced and subverted by the reality of the Turkish geographical and cultural present.

It is in the early nineteenth-century English traveller Alexander Kinglake that one observes a blend of oriental romanticism and othering hegemonic disposition such as were privileged by Montagu and Chandler respectively. "Recreating himself in the character of the Victorian Englishman Abroad," to put it in Jonadran Raban's words (vi), Kinglake travelled in the Ottoman Empire in the 1830s on an itinerary which, after his arrival from Austria, began in the Ottoman border city of Belgrade (1 -9) and continued through Istanbul (21-28), Troy (29-34), and İzmir (35-44) on to Cyprus (53-58), Syria (59-80), Palestine (81-128), Egypt (129-93), and back to Palestine (194-208) and Syria (209-19) from where he crossed by ship to Antalya (220-26). Although he continued his journey from Antalya to Izmir on horseback (226), this part was not included in his narrative, which he entitled Eothen in Greek, explaining in a footnote that it meant '"from the early dawn,' - from die East, " (xn).

Kinglake's narrative is not wholly based on his observations of this oriental geography; in fact, it extensively contains fantasy and speculation related to the exoticism of the East. As he points out in his "Preface," he wrote Eothen in "[an] almost boisterous tone" (x). which obviously accounts for his excessive use of exaggeration and improvisation. However, his oriental romanticism is not one of sympathy and curiosity but of an odrering hegemonic attitude and negative stereotyping. As Raban has rightly noted, he displays "an automatic condescension to all 'orientals,' and is utterly unmoved when diey suffer [...] pain and death" (vii). This is clearly revealed through his comments on a plague epidemic in Istanbul, which he regards as a phenomenon inalienably associated with the East and enhancing die oriental lure of Istanbul:

All the while diát I staid at Constantinople, the Plague was prevailing, but not with any degree of violence; its presence, however, lent a mysterious, and exciting, though not very pleasant interest to my first knowledge of a great Oriental city; it gave tone and colour to all I saw, and all I felt-a tone and a colour sombre enough, but true, and well befitting the dreary monuments of past power and splendour. With all that is most truly oriental in its character, the Plague is associated (21-22).

For Kinglake, the oriental lure of Istanbul is further increased by the mystery that envelopes die physical appearance of Muslim women in public. He points out, possibly with a harem fantasy in mind, that, although publicly they disguise their femininity and beauty under a veil, privately diey feel free to display their voluptuousness:

And perhaps as you make your difficult way through a steep, and narrow alley, shut in between blank walls, and little frequented by passers, you meet one of those coffin-shaped bundles of white linen that implies an Ottoman lady. [,..] Of her very self you see nothing, except the dark, luminous eyes that stare against your face, and the tips of the painted fingers [...]. She turns, and turns again, and carefully glances around her on all sides, to see that she is safe from the eyes of Mussulmans, and dien suddenly withdrawing the yashmak, she shines upon your heart and soul with the pomp, and might of her beauty. And this, it is not the light, changful [sic] grace, diat leaves you to doubt whether you have fallen in love with a body, or only a soul; it is die beauty diat dwells secure in die perfectness of hard, downright oudines, and in the glow of generous colour. There is fire, though, too-high courage, and fire enough in the untamed mind, or spirit, or whatever it is, which drives the breadi of pride dirough those scarcely parted lips. You smile [,..]-you turn pale before the beauty that is great enough to have dominion over you. She sees, and exults in your giddiness; she sees and smiles; then presently, with a sudden movement, she lays her blushing fingers upon your arm, and cries out Yumourdjak!' (24).

Contrasted with Kinglake's oriental reveries as such is his indifference to the landscape that consdtutes the setting of his fantasies. Neidier in Istanbul nor during his journey overland from Troy to Izmir, which he simply summarizes in one sentence as "after a journey of some few days by the route of Adramiti and Pergamo [modern Edremit and Bergama respectively], we reached Smyrna" (34), does he exhibit any genuine interest in the geography of the land. As regards Istanbul and its environs, he only mentions in passing "the fathomless Bosphorus" (21), "the bright, blue pathway of the Golden Horn" (21), "the noisiest mart" which is die Grand Bazaar (21), and "Scutari [...] half veiled in her mournful cypresses" (28). While at Troy, he is carried away by his Homeric illusions (29-33) and n avels in time back to die Trojan war:

Conceive how deeply that eternal coast-line-that fixed horizon-those island rocks must have graven their images upon the minds of die Grecian warriors by the time that they had reached the ninth year of the siege! conceive the strength, and the fanciful beauty, of die speeches with which a whole army of imagining men must have told dieir weariness , and how the sauntering chiefs must have whelmed that daily, daily scene with their deep Ionian curses! (33).

Similarly, when he is in Izmir, he makes no reference to the layout of the city and its surroundings, but only to "the narrow streets" (43). Mosdy he focuses on the commercial and multiethnical features of the city (35 and 3942), ending his prejudiced and racist speculations with another sensuous reverie of oriental feminine mysteriousness (43-44). As for Antalya, he describes nothing of it except a passing reference to its "fragrant land" (220) and "sweet shore" (221). In fact, he justifies his indifference by stating that where the countries which one visits have been thoroughly, and ably described, and even artistically illustrated by others, one is fully at liberty to say as little (though not quite so much) as one chooses (xi). However, in view of his antagonistic and hegemonic attitude which is recurrent throughout his narrative, it is natural for hint to take litde or no interest in the culture, society, and landscape of Turkey which he simply marginalizes as the other geography. So, in his juxtaposition of oriental fantasy and the reality of this marginalized other geography, he privileges a binary vision, which is thoroughly permeated by a sense of tempting exoticism and repulsive primitivism; in other words, he projects into this geography his oriental illusions and cultural self-centredness, but his fantasies are subverted by the harsh reality of the East he was faced with.

If one recalls De Quincey's conviction that "the very outposts of civilisation are held by Englishmen" and that the English "have the colonial instinct in the strongest degree" (qtd. Barfoot 4), Kinglake’s solipsizm and cultural arrogance can be regarded as polarization of this Victorian conviction which itself, of course, stemmed from the ideological n ádidon of British imperialism. It was within the context of this same tradidon that die assertion and pragmadzadon of this convicdon received far more explicit emphasis in Gertrude Bell's travel writings of Turkey and the Ottoman Middle Eastern lands in the early twentieth century. Actually, she was not only a traveller purely interested in explorations of the Turkish and Middle Eastern geographies but was also actively involved in the realization of the British political and colonial aims concerning the Ottoman Middle East (Winstone 147 and 154 ff; Morris viii-ix). Therefore, her travels in Turkey and the Ottoman Middle East also became a kind of disguised espionage. Consequently, the expertise she came to acquire of the region was of strategic importance for the British authorities of the time (Winstone 152). Indeed, when she died on 12 July 1926 in Baghdad as a member of the British High Commission as well as the Director of Antiquities, her services for the British policies in the Middle East were acknowledged by her superior. Sir Henry Dobbs, the High Commissioner, in his official statement:

Miss Bell [...] had for the last ten years of her life consecrated all the indomitable fervour of her spirit all the astounding gifts of her mind to the service of the Arab cause and especially of Iraq (qtd. Winstone 261).

As a traveller, Bell's initial interest in Turkey and the region can be traced back to die 1890s and the following decades (Winstone 32-36, 53-65, 75-78 and 94 ff.) and was of an archaeological and architectural nature (Winstone 95, and 98 ff.). Her association with die leading archaeologists and art historians of the time such as Sir William Ramsay (Winstone 98 and 100-104), David Hogarth (Winstone 66, 107, and 110-11) and others, who were actually carrying out not only field studies and excavations but also camouflaged espionage in the region (Winstone 110-11), enhanced this interest and paved the way for her to become ultimately a Middle Eastern specialist.

Bell’s account of her Turkish travels is largely embodied in the letters that she wrote to her family, friends, colleagues and associates. In fact, many of these letters read radier like a personal diary with extensive descriptions of her observations and impressions on her journeys, which were made several times over a period of nearly ten years between 1902 and 1911, and included the western, central, southern, and south eastern parts of Turkey (Bell 114, 176-87, 191-210, and 249-52). Displaying a condescending and hegemonic attitude like previous English travellers to Turkey, she often behaves like a colonial master who neats the natives as if they were his slaves. For instance, the Turkish muleteers and servants that she has hired for her journeys are often whipped by her for negligence and other faults as she openly states in her letter of 22 April 1905:

At the hands of Turkish muleteers I suffer tortures. They get into camp and when they have unloaded the mules they sit down on one of the packs and light a cigarette with an air of impartial and wholly unconcerned benevolence. I've gone to the length of dislodging them with the lash of my crop, freely applied (182).

Again, when she is advised in Burdur by die authorities apparently including the local military not to continue her journey to İsparta "because of the snow and the mountains" (194), she becomes very upset but is determined to proceed, and her feelings are obviously mediated through her servant Fettah's remarks which she quotes in her letter of 28 April 1907:

Said Fattuh: 'What sort of soldiers are these? They fear the cold and they fear the mountains and they fear the rivers- perhaps they fear the rabbits and the foxes.' And he went on shaking his head mournfully over the degeneracy of the Turkish army and muttering in Turkish Nasi askar! nasi askar! what sort, what sort of soldiers!"' (194).

As in the case of Chandler and Kinglake, so in her narratives Bell frequently reveals her racial antagonism and marginalizing prejudice against the Turkish people and its culture. In her letter of 01 May 1907, she sees die barrenness of central Turkey as the epitome of Turkish backwardness and racial primitivism:

with every step into the interior you feel Asia, the real heart of Asia. Monotonous, colourless, lifeless, unsubdued by a people whose thoughts travel no further than to the next furrow, who live and die and leave no mark upon die great plains and the barren hills-such is central Asia, of which this country is a true part (198).

However, this antagonisdc vision of the Turkish people with its social and cultural identity marginalized is juxtaposed by a fantasized perception of Turkey as the land accommodating vestiges of many civilizations from the Hittites down to the Byzantines (Bell 179-81, 184-86, and 187) and possessing a geography which is varied and typical (Bell 198). Indeed, she is so mystified by this perception that she sees in the history of die land a pattern of the rise and fell of human civilizations:

What a country this is! I fear I shall spend the rest of my life travelling in it. Race after race, one on top of the other, the whole land strewn with the mighty relics of them. We in Europe are accustomed to think that civilization is an advancing flood that has gone steadily forward since the beginning of time. I believe we are wrong. It is a tide that ebbs and flows, reaches a high water mark and turns back again. Do yon think that from age to age it rises higher than before? (176-77).

It is under the impact of this mystification that she projects the Turkish landscape into a historical perspective and that the pre-Turkish past from the Hittites and classical antiquity to the Byzantine times is retrieved vividly in the present. For instance, the Belen Pass ("the Pass of Bailan") between Antioch (modern Hatay) and Alexandretta (Iskenderun) revives in her mind Alexander’s march with his army back to "die Plain of Issus" to fight Darius (Bell 177). Similarly, while crossing the Amanos Mountains on horseback, she gets into a reverie of history:

It was very interesting historically for we were going through the Anianian Gates, through which many armies had passed in and out of Cilicia (178).

Although she often acknowledges her fascination with the striking scenic prospects of the Turkish landscape (Bell, 179, 181, 186, 194,196 et passim), her reveries of history as such further enable her not only to marginalize and silence this landscape as the other geography but also to translate it into a geography of the pre-Turkish past. Indeed, in a letter she wrote on 12 April 1907 from Miletus to her stepmother Florence Bel), she made the following point:

I said to myself: I will go and see the Greece of Asia. [...] And I have found it. The seas and the hills are all full of legend and the valleys are scattered over with the ruins of the great rich Greek cities. Here is a page of history that one sees with the eye and that enters into the mind as no book can relate (192).

It was with a higher degree of Hellenic sentimentality as such and historical fantasizing that also Freya Stark envisaged the Turkish geography. Her travels in Turkey were made in the early 1950s, and she began with extensive explorations of the Aegean and south western parts of the country. A detailed account of these explorations was published as Ionia: A Qtiesf and The Lycian Shore: Along the Coast of Turkey by Yatch. These travels were followed by her ambitious travel adventure to trace Alexander’s route, in the opposite direction, from Issus in the east to the Lycian city of Xanthus in the west, and she published in 1958, under the tide Alexander’s Path: A Travel Memoir, a full and discursive account of this adventure.

Stark had made her début as a traveller in the late 1920s in the Middle East where, until the early 1940s, she travelled extensively and, by virtue of her expertise of the Middle Eastern geography, peoples and cultures, was involved in various political schemes such as espionage, propaganda, and the establishment of pro-British local secret agencies like the Brotherhood of Freedom in Egypt anti Iraq (Izzard 133-98). In fact, as Molly Izzard has rightly suggested, Gertrude Bell was the example Stark adopted for her activities in the Middle East (67, 76, and 150), although she refused to be regarded as a Bell acolyte (Izzard 116, 150 and 177).

Of course, it is hard to specidate to what extent Stark’s travels in Turkey served aims other than mere pleasure and satisfaction. In view of her strong fascination with, and indefatigable explorations of, the Turkish geography, one can categorically assert that she regarded her journeys in Turkey as what she called "travelling down the ages” ( The Lycian Shore 122) and, indeed, as a kind of romantic quest in search of the distant classical past. On this quest, she did not display any sense of an idealized and fantasized orientalism, but was motivated and guided by her reveries of the Hellenic civilization of classical antiquity. However, her reveries were often spoiled by the reality of die present:

I left next day for Adana and Mersin, with four Turks and a Turkish colonel’s wife in a car. [...] On this, the second of my Turkish journeys, I still spoke very little of the language. I sat, usually in the 4th century B.C., but otherwise alone, while the tides of life rippled around me, and was roused from such torpor by the bulk of die colonel’s wife pressing me into the middle of the front seat for which I had paid double to enjoy it myself (Alexander’s Path 8; my italics).

In fact, the Turkish landscape of the 1950s, which she extensively depicted in her narratives, and in which she was situated, embodied an ambivalence for her, in which the past and the present became antithetical. In odier words, her historical fantasizings of the past clashed with the physical and social realities of modern Turkey. While, on die one hand, she often imagined that the natives of the country were, in fact, the living replicas of the Hellenic inhabitants and mythological figures of antiquity (Ionia 36, 96-97 et passim-, The Lycian Shore 72-73,95, 105-06, 148, 149-50 et passim), on the other, in a quite racial manner, she regarded some of them as “round-headed” and non-Hellenic Asians “with a flat face” (Ionia xvi and 56). This racial dichotomy was also projected into her descriptions of tire landscape itself. Through her reveries of history, she saw it as a land of prosperous and civilized classical cities (Ionia 9-227; The Lycian Shore 59-60, 62-74, 110-13 et passim), fertility and happiness. For instance, when she visited the ancient Ionian city ofTeos (modern Sigacik near Seferihisar), she fantasized about tire life and people as follows:

there were [...] summer evenings [...] by quiet shores, delightful songs, processions to the temple under the hill. The memory of the art of living breathes even now in a landscape full of kindness, a memory of pleasure pouring as from a natural cornucopia out of the gentlest climate in tire world. Perhaps the simplicity of the pleasures wove tire charm (Ionia 30-31).

Similarly, while travelling from Izmir to the north to see the Aeolian cities of antiquity and very much impressed by the fertility of the region, she was again carried away by her reverie:

as one drives northward towards Pergannun, the fruitfulness appears in an exuberance of slopes and fanning valleys where the olive-grown hillsides under their naked summits shimmer and toss, like azure-eyed Argive ships’ round a headland (Ionia 58).

However, despite her idyllic and idealized reveries of tire landscape with its past history as such, she also saw it in its present state as an environment “charred and scarred" (Ionia 34), “half-ruined” (Ionia 34), and with “empty mountains” (Ionia 11). She again pointed out

that the landscape [was] all repetitive variations, outline beyond outline, like the tones of a voice beyond the words (Ionia 11).

Moreover, situated in a landscape as such, modern Turkish towns seemed to her as dull, poorly built, and lacking amenities of a civilized way of life, like good and clean hotels and restaurants; accordingly, “Mersin, as a resort, has little to recommend it" (Alexander’s Path 13), and İzmir "sinks away in the vastness of its landscape” (Ionia 11) and “has still not recrystallized into a harmonious whole” (Ionia 12).

Obviously, İn Stark’s narratives of her travels in Turkey, one recognizes a reiteration of traditional antagonism, racial prejudice, and historical sentimental reveries of the classical Hellenic past, such as we have already tried to demonstrate with reference to Chandler, Kinglake, and Gertrude Bell. This marginalizing and culturally subversive attitude is also polarized through her partly negative perception of the Turkish geography. Yet, contrary to this perception, she also adopts, like her travelling predecessors, a privileging attitude towards the same geography, which intrinsically stems from her fantasizings about classical antiquity.

To conclude this paper, the antagonistic perceptions of Turkey, which permeate the English travellers’ narratives, are obviously rooted in a long European and, for that matter, English tradition of anti-Turkish prejudices and negative stereotyping. This tradition is what Norman Daniels has aptly called “the inherited burden” (307) which has constituted a framework of reference for a marginalized, racially discriminative, and culturally subversive vision of Turkey. However, in certain cases, this antithetical vision is relatively dichotomized by die romanticism of an oriental perception, and this gives rise to what one may call a double standard of invitation and repellence. Hence, the travellers we have focused on in tit is paper reveal the same vision, though through different paradigms. It is within the context of this vision that their representation of the Turkish geography, which embodies a binary opposition of fantasy and reality, becomes dichomatic and, hence, ambivalent.


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* An expanded version of the paper presented at the 4th International Conference of Literatures in English: The Endangered Planet in Literature. Doğuş University, Istanbul. 16-18 November 2005.