Ahmet Midhat’s <i>Hulâsa-i Hümâyunnâme</i>
The Kelile and Dimne stories originally written in Sanskrit have been translated into various languages through the centuries. This book on ethics and politics, penned with the purpose of providing guidance to rulers by means of animal stories has been reshaped in each translation, sometimes bearing different titles, depending on the cultural context of the target languages while its essence and teachings remained the same. Ahmet Midhat Efendi’s Hulâsa-i Hümâyunnâme, commissioned by Sultan Abdülhamit II, printed in 1888, but banned from publication, is an interesting case in point. It was based on the illustrious 16th-century translation, the Hümâyunnâme, by Ali bin Salih Çelebi, which he presented to Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. This essay draws on a comparative study of both translated texts, focusing on Ahmet Midhat’s work as a “renewed” version of the source text, written in the plainer style of 19th-century Ottoman Turkish prose. It also probes into the question of why this work was banned.