The Story of Joseph
A Fourteenth-CenturyTurkish Morality Play
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: Syracuse University Press
Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication, About the Author
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I first explored the Old Anatolian Turkish text of Sheyyad Hamza’s “Story of Joseph,” through a poor photo reproduction of an old manuscript, as a graduate student preparing for comprehensive examinations at Harvard. Twenty years later, teaching...
Note on Dating, Spelling,and Reference Works
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Unless explicitly noted to the contrary, all dates should be considered “Common Era” (CE) years. I have anglicized the spelling of a handful of Turkish words, mostly names used repeatedly: so, for example, Sheyyad for Turkish Şeyyad. But where I cite, parenthetically, a Turkish...
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The Joseph story is one of the most frequently retold tales in world literature. Whether in its archetypal form in the Book of Genesis or its privileged position as a unique complete narrative in sura xii of the Muslim Qur’an, the story gained...
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It begins as the story of the favorite son, envied—no, detested— by his older brothers, a boy who survives their murderous plot and other obstacles, and who rises to great power and reward. If that were all, perhaps the Joseph story would never have achieved the popularity it did.1 But from the earliest time, an...
Translation of the Poem
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Let us begin by recalling the name of God so that His1 mercy will rain upon us. “In the name of God”—at the beginning and at the end, because the sweetness of speech comes through mention of Him. One of His names is the Merciful. He forgives his slaves. He is also the Pardoner. He is the Compassionate. He shows mercy toward that slave...
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Hamza’s “Story of Joseph” was composed in a language called Old Anatolian (or Old Ottoman) Turkish, from which the language of modern Turkey evolved. Turkish belongs to the Turkic language group, which includes languages like Uzbek, Kirghiz...
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Any synopsis must be arbitrary and selective, and what follows is no exception. I have singled out what seem to me notable scene markers and motifs. Many extend through more than a single verse of the poem. My identification is by the number...
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Page Count: 168
Publication Year: 2014
Series Title: Middle Eastern Literature in Translation