The Turkish Embassy Letters, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


The critical and biographical introduction tells of Lady Wortley Montagu's travels through Europe to Turkey in 1716, where her husband had been appointed Ambassador.

Her lively letters offer insights into the paradoxical freedoms conferred on Muslim women by the veil, the value of experimental work by Turkish doctors on inoculation, and the beauty of Arab poetry and culture. The ability to study another culture according to its own values and to see herself through the eyes of others makes Lady Mary one of the most fascinating of early travel writers and commentators


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Biography: general
  • ISBN: 9781853816796

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Adventurous minx that she was, Lady Mary took off from England and spent a year in the Sultan's court with her husband, the new ambassador--or more accurately, she gallivanted around the whole Ottoman Empire while he was doing ambassador stuff. Lots to like here: her generous attitude toward the oriental Other, extending even to "they might actually be doing things a lot better than us in many ways" (inoculations; freedom of womanity--this has obviously changed, but it is certainly worth pointing out to the people who think there is something intrinsically anti-woman about Islam). Also her efforts with the language and poetry, the way she always gets in a dig at the Catholics, and her fulsome descriptions of the ladies she visits,their banquets and joie de vivre. I like all the classical tidbits as well. There is too much talk about clothes and childbearing and not enough about food and politics, but I can't expect everyone to be interested in exactly the things I am.

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