Prisoner of the Infidels

The Memoir of an Ottoman Muslim in Seventeenth-Century Europe

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Editor(s): 
Giancarlo Casale
Translator(s): 
Giancarlo Casale
  • Oakland, CA: 
    University of California Press
    , September
     2021.
     224 pages.
     $18.95.
     Paperback.
    ISBN
    9780520383395.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.

Description

A pioneering work of Ottoman Turkish literature, Prisoner of the Infidels brings the seventeenth-century memoir of Osman Agha of Timişoara—slave, adventurer, and diplomat—into English for the first time. The sweeping story of Osman’s life begins upon his capture and subsequent enslavement during the Ottoman–Habsburg Wars. Adrift in a landscape far from his home and traded from one master to another, Osman tells a tale of indignation and betrayal but also of wonder and resilience, punctuated with queer trysts, back-alley knife fights, and elaborate ruses to regain his freedom.

Throughout his adventures, Osman is forced to come to terms with his personhood and sense of belonging: What does it mean to be alone in a foreign realm and treated as subhuman chattel, yet surrounded by those who see him as an object of exotic desire or even genuine affection? Through his eyes, we are treated to an intimate view of seventeenth-century Europe from the singular perspective of an insider/outsider, who by the end his account can no longer reckon the boundary between Islam and Christendom, between the land of his capture and the land of his birth, or even between slavery and redemption.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Giancarlo Casale is Chair of Early Modern Mediterranean History at the European University Institute and Associate Professor of History at the University of Minnesota.

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