[AMERICAN FEMINISM & EUGENICS DISCUSSIONS IN TURKEY] سه وكيلى دوشمان / Sevgili düsman [i.e., Dear enemy]. Translated by Celâleddin Ekrem. Foreword by Ahmed Cevad [Emre]

  • $600.00
    Unit price per 
Tax included. Shipping calculated at checkout.

WEBSTER, JEAN (1876-1916).

Ibrahim Hilmi / Selâmet Matbaasi, Istanbul 1928.

Original pictorial full dark green cloth, blind tooled illustration on the front board by French illustrator Jean Hée. Gilt lettering, title and author’s name on the front board. Demy 8vo. (21 x 14 cm) In Ottoman script (Old Turkish with Arabic letters). v, [1], 395 p., original line drawings by the author. Age toning on pages, repaired hinges, fading on lettering at spine. Overall, very good copy.

First Ottoman Turkish edition in a striking collectible hardcover of the novel written by Jean Webster, an American novelist, a suffragist, a supporter of higher education for women and an active advocate of social reform for orphans and prisons.

This hardback edition is seemingly rarer than the paperback edition issued in the same year. We couldn’t find any information about the print runs of both editions, however, according to the auction records and market, this edition we have was published for the collectors in a smaller run. The original cover illustration by Jean Hée, also known for the illustrations of Alice au Pays des Merveilles (1930), was blind tooled on this edition’s front cover.

Both written in epistolary fashion, Webster’s Dear Enemy was a sequel to her first best-seller Daddy-Long-Legs. The presented Ottoman-Turkish edition starts with an important foreword by Ahmed Cevad Emre (1876-1961), the first full-text translator of Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad in Turkish, a productive grammar scholar, a politician. This important foreword was written on behalf of the Dil Encümeni [i.e., The Language Council].

Foreword of a novel was providing a platform to educate the reader who newly met the genre during the Early Republic. Emre’s foreword begins with an explanation of the “social novel” (içtimâî roman) genre, little-known back then. He states that Dear Enemy was chosen to be printed under the Series of Gençlik Kitabhânesi [i.e., Youth Literature] by the Language Council, precisely because of its social front. Then he summarizes both Daddy-Long-Legs and Dear Enemy by focusing on the protagonists, exemplary female figures who undertake social responsibilities in their coming-of-age stories. Especially in the Dear Enemy part, Emre underlines the protagonist’s true calling of social duty and the newly modernizing Republic’s immediate need for a social model like the orphanage depicted in the book. 

The other main but implicit reason for Dear Enemy’s being chosen to be translated is the notions that discuss and support Eugenics in the text. After the Ottoman Empire had declined, in the new nation-state, the subject of Eugenics gained popularity among the early Turkish Republican elite and medical bureaucrats: “The discourse of Turkish eugenics aimed to create a healthy and robust Turkish society with a collective national identity with policies adapted from the West to both catch up with the West and prove itself against the West in the process of modernization.” (Çelik & Karakuş). Webster’s novel was one of the good mediums for spreading these ideas to the public. Because “Webster became increasingly convinced by hereditarian reasoning and used her novels as a medium for didacticism on the subject, explicitly teaching her readers about eugenic family studies and implicitly supporting laws mandating the involuntary sterilization or segregation of the mentally disabled and some classes of criminals, legislation that began appearing at state levels in 1907.” (Keely).

Emre, the writer of the Dear Enemy’s foreword, was also the author of a book titled Bizde Kadin [i.e., Women in Our Society, 1912] that evaluates the woman question in late Ottoman society. He was also the publisher of the periodical Muhit, of which one of the main subjects is Social Darwinism in the context of Kemalist ideals of the time. “Muhit served the Kemalist ideology of creating modern women with traditional roles at home and fit and healthy children for the future of the Republic. From 1931 onwards Muhit shifted from pro-natalist discussions of Social Darwinism to a full-fledged racist social Darwinism.” (Bayraktar). Heredity and Eugenics also were hot topics in Muhit, just as in young Turkish Republic.


Jean Webster (1876-1916) was born in New York. She was a grandniece of Mark Twain, and her father was Twain’s business manager and publisher. In her early childhood she lived with powerful matriarchal figures, her great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother altogether. She embraced the activist attitude from her great-grandmother worked on temperance issues and her grandmother worked on racial equality and women's suffrage. Between 1897-1901, Webster studied English and Economics at Vassar College. Starting from her college years, she became an avid traveller worldwide. Webster supported women’s suffrage and higher education for women and also was an active advocate of some social reforms. She wrote eight novels, many plays, and several unpublished stories. In her books she created many strong, female protagonists who come of age intellectually, morally, and socially. Also, many of her works addressed the social problems of her time. Her most notable novel was Daddy-Long-Legs (1912), a bestseller first serialized in the Ladies’ Home Journal. It was adapted by Webster to a stage play (1914), and a popular Mary Pickford silent film (1919). In 1914, Webster published Dear Enemy, a sequel to Daddy-Long-Legs, also a best-seller. 

Sources: “Jean Webster ’1901” article in Vassar Encyclopedia. / “Jean Webster” article by Karen Alkalay-Gut on her website. / “II. Mesrutiyet’ten Harf Devrimi’ne Kadar Osmanlicaya Yapilan Roman Çevirilerinin Süreç Öncesi Normlar Baglaminda Irdelenmesi” by Ayse Banu Karadag-Eshabil Bozkurt. / “(Social) Darwinism for Families: The Magazine Muhit, Children and Women in Early Republican Turkey” by Ugur Bahadır Bayraktar. / “Teaching Eugenics to Children: Heredity and Reform in Jean Webster's Daddy-Long-Legs and Dear Enemy” by Karen A. Keely. / “Degeneration Anxieties and Eugenic Contemplations in Modernizing Turkey during the Interwar Period” by Faika Çelik & Necmiye Karakus.

Özege 17881.; As of May 2024, only one copy can be traced in OCLC in Bogaziçi University’s Library in Turkey. Not in any Western libraries or institutions.