East Encounters West

France and the Ottoman Empire in the Eighteenth Century

by Fatma Muge Gocek

Series: Studies in Middle Eastern History

In 1720, an Ottoman ambassador was sent to the court of the Child King Louis XV to observe Western civilization and report on what he saw and how it could be applied in the Ottoman Empire. Based on the accounts of this ambassador, East Encounters West studies the impact of the West on the Ottoman empire and the impact of this Ottoman embassy on the two societies. In France, the presence of the embassy yielded only a brief fashion of Turquerie, whereas in the Ottoman empire, it yielded the first official printing press, signalling an important step toward Western style. Göçek here assesses the reasons behind these differential impacts through three factors: the Western technological advances, consequent commercial expansion, and the different reactions of various social groups in the Ottoman empire to these developments. Her analysis reveals a far-reaching and complex Westernization process that permeated Turkish society as it was approved and imported by dignitaries and eventually passed onto average households. Sketching the process of Westernization from the perspective of Easterners, this unique book throws new light on the cultural differences between these two major civilizations and on the nature of cultural transmission and diffusion.

In The Press

"Extremely insightful and useful."--American Historical Review
"A fascinating and scholarly account of important aspects of Western influence on Ottoman development. It deserves special praise for its use of sources...The book is important for students of international relations and for addressing the general question of hwo widely differing civilizations influence each other."--Middle East Journal