Turkey “Corrects” Classics of European Literature

Turkey “Corrects” Classics

The Turkish government is trying to obtain the relics of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, one of the most revered saints in Christianity, from Italy. This story isn’t new – it has been repeatedly covered by the media.

An increasingly Islamizing Turkey is eager to capitalize on Christian history. That is, Turkey needs Christian saints to attract tourists.

At the same time, Turkey also needs Christian, or rather, world literature written by Christians. However, a simple translation of the treasures of world literature does not suit the “restrained Islamists” in power in Turkey.

Turkish writers found a way out of the situation. About this tells a pamphlet written ten years ago, the content of which is still relevant today.


Turkish students over their school years study about 100 works of classical literature. It is assumed that at the end of school, young Turks should be familiar with Dumas, Hugo, de La Fontaine, Twain, and other writers.

This is a great undertaking, especially considering the persistence with which Turkey is knocking on the doors of Europe. This way, the Turks can demonstrate not only secular costumes without fezes but also their deepest knowledge in the field of European literature.

However, the Turk would not have been a Turk if he had abandoned the temptation to slightly correct European writers. In fact, almost none of the great writers can do without an editor, so why cannot the Turks be this editor?

Especially given that the editors of the aforementioned and other writers have made flaws incompatible with the Turkish mentality. Based on the best of intentions, the Turkish Ministry of Education compiled a list of books compulsory in school education and simultaneously instructed Turkish editors to correct the “flaws” in the originals.

After reading the books, the editors were horrified. It turned out that almost all the heroes of the classics are Christians. Considering this a direct insult to the Turks, the editors zealously began to fix the mistakes.

Well, how can a cute little boy Tom Sawyer, for example, be a Christian? That’s not right. Locate and correct! And everyone’s favorite Pinocchio? Find and fix as well! And now, in the book published by the Turkish Ministry of Education, the “Turkified” Pinocchio begs Geppetto: “Give me some bread, for Allah’s sake!”

In the “Turkish” Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the hero is no longer punished for his tricks. The episode that touched us in childhood when Tom was ordered to paint a fence as a punishment but turned it into an encouragement is no longer in the book.

Now, Tom is diligently studying the Quran and Islamic prayers, and he is awarded a “special treat” to learn Arabic words. It was not possible to find out what lies behind this term, but one has the impression that if Tom avoids classes, he runs the risk of being left without dinner.

In “The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas, Aramis, one of the three musketeers, is originally pious and eventually becomes an influential clergyman. Turkish “editors” were extremely outraged by such a decision by Aramis, which is why they brought him to Islam.

And they made him severely ill. Prayers to Christ did not help the sick musketeer, but a repentant appeal to Allah became the key to his healing. After that, Aramis refused worldly fuss and wine and “surrounded himself with the faithful.”

D’Artagnan, a friend of Aramis and the protagonist of the book, apparently remained faithful to Christ solely because of his “Armenian” surname. Although the smart reader can guess that sooner or later, the truth will be revealed to him.

All the decent “outcasts” of Victor Hugo by the will of the Turkish “editors” became Muslims, but all sorts of bad people were stuck in Christianity. And little Cosette met the good dervish Jean Valjean only because she assiduously performed the prayer five times a day.

The Swiss girl Heidi born from the pen of Spyri is actively persuaded to convert to Islam. And the reader has no doubt that the truth will ultimately be revealed to this pretty orphan.

In the same way as it happened with the heroine of Eleanor Porter Pollyanna. Pollyanna now earnestly believes in the Quranic end of the world. At the same time, before “moving to Turkey”, Pollyanna had been perceived by readers as the embodiment of Christian tolerance and forgiveness.

Unfortunately, we were not able to find out where Dante’s heroes in “The Divine Comedy” who converted to Islam wandered. Apparently, in Jahannam, for there is no “other hell” according to Turkish “editors”.

Oddly enough, but some readers in Turkey noticed the falsification. And they drew attention to the fact that the secular state, which Turkey has been claimed to be since Kemal, should not allow itself such liberties.

These appeals led to the fact that officials from the Ministry of Education, groaning and cursing, sat down to read books. And to their horror, they discovered jargon, slang, and… insults to the country’s prime minister.

The Ministry of Education, through the mouth of its chief Selik, immediately threatened with legal action against those publishers who would continue to publish such books. By the way, we are talking about insults addressed to then Prime Minister Erdogan which somehow appeared in the books of the authors of past centuries. As for the heroes of famous works, the involuntary religious renegades, it appears that Turkey hasn’t considered them seditious.

It seems that this “initiative of the Turkish editors” can do good service to the state. In fact, Turkey now has its own rich original literature with which it is not a shame to scrape the doors of Europe. They have the Great Turkic-European literature with great names – Dante Aligeoglu, Mark Tyvenli, Victor Gyogoglu, Iskender Dyumurchi…

One of the aphorisms of outstanding fabulist of the 17th century Jean de La Fontaine, whose heroes as a result of the Turkish edition also “accepted Islam”, says: “Every flatterer lives at the expense of him who listens to him.”

Levon Melik-Shahnazaryan

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