The Reflection of Islam in Chapbooks and Couplets of the Second Half of the 19th Century and the Early 20th Century
|Keywords||broadside ballads – couplets – Slavic idea – Islam – Ottoman Empire|
|Type of Article||Peer-reviewed|
|Citation||KLACEK, Michal. The Reflection of Islam in Chapbooks and Couplets of the Second Half of the 19th Century and the Early 20th Century. Acta Musei Nationalis Pragae – Historia litterarum. Prague: National Museum, 2021, 66(3-4), 5–42. DOI: https://doi.org/10.37520/amnpsc.2021.015. ISSN 2570-6861 (Print), 2570-687X (Online). Also available from: https://publikace.nm.cz/en/periodicals/acta-musei-nationalis-pragae-historia-litterarum/66-3-4/the-reflection-of-islam-in-chapbooks-and-couplets-of-the-second-half-of-the-19th-century-and-the-early-20th-century|
Semi-folk compositions, traditionally referred to as ‘broadside ballads’, can be seen as a distinct work of art but also as a specific type of historical source. The authors of the ballads reacted, among other things, to events in the Ottoman Empire in the second half of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century. For a long time, they maintained entrenched stereotypes based on the opposition between Christianity and Islam. ‘Turks’ (a synonym for Muslims) were traditionally regarded as pagans and tyrants, oppressors of subjugated Christians. During the Great Eastern Crisis and the Russo-Turkish War (1875–1878), this stereotype was, in some songs, first enriched with the motif of a Slavic hero. The same theme was later developed by the authors of satirical songs, called ‘couplets’. Broadside ballads and couplets with a Turkish subject reflect their authors’ views, more or less influenced by the media of the time. Thanks to journalists and publicists, and to some extent also the authors of the songs, the struggle of the Slavs for freedom was perceived positively in the Czech environment. In the spirit of the Slavophile idea, members of the Balkan peoples were long regarded as ‘Slavic brothers’ and the Russian tsar was hailed as their liberator.