In The Book of Travels by Evliya Çelebi, what are some examples of the groups/places/things he sees? What do we learn about these through his descriptions, and how is his attitude revealed through them?

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In his book, the seventeenth-century traveler Evliya Çelebi recounts his journeys through the Ottoman Empire as he set out from his home in Istanbul (then Constantinople) and reached such disparate locales as Vienna and Cairo. His narratives fill ten volumes, collectively called the Seyahâtnâme, which gained fame in the original...

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In his book, the seventeenth-century traveler Evliya Çelebi recounts his journeys through the Ottoman Empire as he set out from his home in Istanbul (then Constantinople) and reached such disparate locales as Vienna and Cairo. His narratives fill ten volumes, collectively called the Seyahâtnâme, which gained fame in the original Turkish and became more widely known in later German and English editions.

One notable feature is that Çelebi, whose name was actually Derviş Mehmed Zillî, is strongly influenced by his Muslim faith and origins in the heart of the Ottoman Empire; his education had included Koran recitation. As he had found favor with Sultan Murad IV, he sometimes served as an official representative. He often takes a critical stance on the customs of other peoples, and he also does not hesitate to embroider on his observations in anticipation of the effect the tales will have on the reader.

In Evliya’s description of Vienna, for example, may be seen the influence of his Ottoman perspective. Commenting on its many churches, he was struck by the “idolatry” in the religious statues, but he is also impressed by the skill of painters in depicting the appeal of heaven.

In his 2004 book, An Ottoman Mentality, Robert Dankoff notes that Çelebi’s two primary goals were “to provide a complete description of the Ottoman Empire and its hinterlands” and “to provide a complete record of his travels” (2004: 17–18). His close attention to detail in regard to the first objective yields a rich spatial, topographical survey of hundreds of towns and natural and human-made landscape features. The history and culture of each place is also emphasized, with analyses of language, markets, customs, and biographies of notable people, both living and dead. Dankoff calls that mode "imperial." The second aim is personal, developed in more autobiographical fashion: the narratives “tend to be quirky and anecdotal, sometimes sliding into satire or fantasy” (2004: 18).

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