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ثروت فنون [Servet-i Fünun / Wealth of Knowledge]



A rare complete last series of the legendary Ottoman intellectual magazine Servet-I Fünun, which introduced the popular Western culture to the East


11 issues in 11 volumes (10 volumes with each 20 issues, 1 volume with 11 issues), all small folio, each issue with 16 pp. with black and with illustrations and illustrated cover, sporadic issues with colour cover, each issue with ca 8 pp. advertisements on tan paper, all issues missing the rear cover, bound in original three quarter black calf with gilt lettering on the spine and black cloth boards (binding with small loss of material, inside in a clean crisp condition with sporadic tiny folds and tears, with partly uncut margins).


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Servet-i Fünun (ثروت فنون) or the Wealth of Knowledge was a famous Ottoman magazine, published between 1891 and 1944. Starting as an illustrated with scientific articles and reports, accompanied with humour and literature, it soon turned into a leading literary magazine, publishing modern Ottoman poetry and literature. The group of authors, which gathered around the magazine between 1896 and 1901, passed into the history of literature under titles “New Literature” or the “Servet-i Fünun Lietrarure”.

This is a complete set of the last 211 issues in Ottoman language starting with no. 1 after the reformation of the newspaper in 1924 and ending with the transformation of the script to Latin in 1928. Although the magazine was continued being published after this date for another 16 years, it lost much of its charm.

The choice of motifs of the articles shows the newspaper’s fascination of the West. The articles especially promote the women’s liberation, in the sense of exposing female bodies in roles of dancers, movie actresses and flappers, but also as emancipated women, female pilots, horse riders and women wearing men’s clothing.

Although following the politics of newly founded Republic of Turkey and countries of the former Ottoman Empire, such as Saudi Arabia, Servet-i Fünun published most of the articles on the foreign subjects. The journalists were especially fascinated by the modern world in Germany, France and in the United States, including the rights of the African Americans, the contemporary Japanese politics, explorations, technology etc.

The editor of the magazine from the first number in 1888 until his death in 1942 was Ahmed İhsan Tokgöz (1868 – 1942), a fascinating influential figure of the late Ottoman Empire, a publisher, whiter and translator, who connected the influences from the West with Ottoman tradition.

Growing up in Shkodra, Albania, and Damascus, Syria, Ahmed İhsan finished a law degree. A keen translator and a big fan of the Jules Verne novels, he made first translations of Verne’s text to Ottoman, starting a new genre of the adventure novels in the Ottoman world. İhsan also authored the first modern travelogue through Europe, mentioning the Orient Express.

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