A Fez of the Heart: Travels around Turkey in Search of a Hat

A Fez of the Heart: Travels around Turkey in Search of a Hat

by Jeremy Seal

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Overview

Inspired by a dusty fez in his parents’ attic, Jeremy Seal set off in 1993 to trace the astonishing history of this cone-shaped hat. Soon the quintessentially Turkish headgear became the key to understanding a country beset by contradictions. “A modern travel classic” (Herald Express).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780330343626
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication date: 12/28/1995
Pages: 9999
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.76(h) x 0.71(d)

About the Author

Jeremy Seal has written for numerous English newspapers. His first book, A Fez of the Heart, was chosen as a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and short-listed for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award. His second book, The Snakebite Survivor's Club, was a New York Public Library Exceptional Book of the Year. He lives in Bath, England, with his wife and daughters.

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A Fez of the Heart: Travels around Turkey in Search of a Hat 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
richardderus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rating: 3.25* of fiveThe Book Report: Author Jeremy Seal, British of course, found an elderly fex in his parents' attic and, in true Brit fashion, became obsessed with Turkey. I mean, what else is possible when one finds a fez in the attic?I think an American would be more interested in how the fez got there, which parent had the Turkish man as a lover, what the hell the thing was...not leap straight into Turkophilia. But us colonials, we're just not as finely tuned as the Motherlanders to the nuances of life.In other words; we're sane.So off Jezza goes, in 1993 mind you, as a grown man, to indulge his peculiar obsession. He arrives in a Turkey that resembles the fez-wearing Turkey of his childhood interest very little. The story he tells us as we tag along with him on his voyage of discovery is that of Turkey's utterly fascinating reinvention of itself after the Great War swept away empire and sultan all in a day. We meet Turks old and young, and to a one they are as crotchety and odd as one could wish them to be. In the end, the hat that brought Jeremy Seal to Turkey is his personal madeleine, the key to memory and knowledge.My Review: I like stuff about Turkey because I think it's one of the most interesting places on the surface of the earth. I've liked every Turk I've met, too, and dated one Turk for a year or so. I went into reading this book, on a friend's recommendation, with all sorts of goodwill and eagerness.I came out with all the goodwill and none of the eagerness.I like the book, don't get me wrong. I quite enjoyed the capsule Turkish history, I was amused by the cultural divide the author frequently fell into, and I was kept reading by the author's evident love for his subject.I don't like Jeremy Seal. Not even a little bit. I think he comes across as a snotty little prig, a self-absorbed twit, and an obsessive-compulsive hat fetishist. If I met him in the flesh, I would not be inclined to linger, but rather to escape.And that, sad to say, is my take-away from this very nice book. It overrode the pleasures of Turkophilia, which I too have, and left me with Sealophobia. I think that's a damn shame.
teaperson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The author takes Turkey's famed hat as an organizing principle for an in-depth look at modern Turkey and it's divides. Although a decade old now, it remains up-to-date in its examination of the tensions between Muslims and secularists in Turkey. The Fez began as a reformist sultan's attempt to Westernize his country - but then was abolished by Ataturk, who wanted to be even more Western. Earnest discussion of the symbolism of headgear is balanced here by some laugh-out-loud travel experiences with Turks young and old.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CarpeDiemed More than 1 year ago
I read this before and during a recent two-week visit to Turkey. The book gave me thoughtful historic and cultural context, woven around a neat story (the author's quest to uncover the true history, role, and origin of the fez in Turkey). The book's tone of matter-of-fact persistence, exasperation, and meandering & shared digestion of information stayed with me; I drew on them deliberately as I made my way from tourist to traveler. Jeremy Seal's use of words is skilled and smooth. Quite the companion!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been living in Turkey for four months, and although I may not speak Turkish as well as Seal, and I may not have spent as much time here as Seal, I can already point out some errors in this book. I am an exchange student at Boðaziçi Universitesi but normally I study at Stanford University. Since I have been in Turkey, I have tried to do some travelling as well as read some books about Turkey. A Turkish friend recommended Star and Crescent by Steven Kinzer which is an excellent book about modern Turkey and goes beyond the Islam vs. the west theme that Seal so lovingly dwells upon. Seal essentially is looking for a hat that most modern Turks care nothing about. He deliberately travels to small, remote places in the winter, and once there, tries to seek out whatever nationalists or fundamentalists happen to be around. Although I am critical too of Islam and of Turkish culture and society, I try and rely on facts and look for details and complexities rather than viewing Turkey though a prefabricated negative and condescending lens. There is one episode from this book that particularly offended me. During Seals travels through Anatolia, he stops in Cappadocia, a region famous for its spectacular landscapes and its beautifully decorated cave churches. These churches, carved out and painstakingly painted by Byzantine monks suffered some destruction in later years. Seal blames Islam-which forbids depictions of human forms in its religous art-for this destruction, and uses his time in Cappadocia as another instance to depict the Turks as intolerant and culturally insensitive. In fact, the blame for much of the destruction of the Cappadocian churches falls on the Byzantines themselves. In the eighth century, the Iconoclastic movement became imperial policy in Byzantium. Iconoclasm called for the destruction of all pictoral depictions in Christian art. In Cappadocia, scratched out faces of Saints alongside with what are clearly later Iconoclastic decorations show that it was indeed Byzantines themselves who were responsible for destroying their own religious art. I use this instance to draw attention to the gaps in Seals historical knowledge as well as the bias which promotes his itinerary. He seems to be travelling to Turkey to suffer-both because of the bad weather and at the hands of what he views as an ignorant, intolerant society. Although some of the books episodes are informative and intriuging, just beware of Seals use of historical fact and the negative attitude he holds towards most things Turkish and Islamic.