Pierre Loti|French edition

About the book

"I was alone with this woman, as still and motionless as a white ghost. The spa passed by, I began to pull backwards. She stretched out her arms at a moment when she decided we had come far enough. It was a sign that I was waiting to sit next to her. I touched her. The first contact had a positive weakness. Lame slipped into her slippers, her slippers up to her ankles. Her arms full of amber, she smelled of rose. Those pearls, those pinched red lips and a ripe cherry. He could sell his soul to eat gums that resembled the flesh of. (...) I looked at his mistress with admiration. The loud rumble of music and the fragrant shisha smoke caused slow drunkenness. Light drunkenness spread eastwards, which meant erasing the past and forgetting the bad moments in life. "

Aziyadé (1879; also known as Constantinople) is a novel by the French author Pierre Loti. Originally published anonymously, it quickly brought him fame and his anonymous character did not last long. It is based on excerpts from the notes and letters of a lieutenant in the English Navy who entered Turkish service on 10 May 1876 and died in the battle of Kars on 27 October 1877.

Note to Istanbul visitors: Café Pierre Loti became famous through the French writer who wrote his novel "Aziyadé" here in 1879. From the café you have a magnificent view of the lower reaches of the Golden Horn. 

For those who could not or did not want to travel at that time, the globetrotter Pierre Loti created an exotic ambience and served the wanderlust of his readers. Those who pass through Ville de Rochefort should check, when the Maison Pierre Loti reopens. Behind its simple façade, south of Place Colbert with its prestigious town houses, there is a museum with the authentic living quarters of the romanticist inspired by faraway lands: Oriental salons, parts of a Damascus mosque with turquoise mosaics, the original tombstone of his Turkish mistress, which he stole from Topkapi cemetery in Istanbul, and a minaret.

Pierre Loti was a Turcophile French naval officer who was in the Ottoman Empire between 1876 and 1877. Aziyadé (1879), a novel of letters, tells the autofictional love story of a naval officer (he has the same name as the author) against the background of the declining Ottoman Empire. In Constantinople (today's Istanbul), the novel character Loti disguises himself as a Turk and adopts the national language in order to pass for a native. At the same time, however, he officer travels inward, to the exotic land of his unconscious. With him, the Ottoman Empire also regresses in the novel.

Although Loti tries to hide his homosexual desire, this desire seems to be omnipresent. André Gide and Jean Cocteau are certain that the forbidden love for the young harem lady Aziyadé, who gave the novel its title, is a codified same-sex love, as it were. Barthes elaborates on this gay subtext in his preface to the Italian edition of Loti's novel. Barthes reads a life-threatening situation for Loti as a successful cruising scene.



in the Literature Atlas

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