Building on recent scholarship on postcolonial theory and the history of the modern Middle East, this article analyzes the viewpoints of late nineteenth-century Ottoman novelists on the modernization projects of the Tanzimat and post-Tanzimat periods. It argues that the Ottoman novelists Ahmet Midhat, Fatma Aliye, and Recaizade Mahmut Ekrem developed a counter-discourse against rapid modernization projects in Istanbul. Through a depiction of everyday life experiences related to the latest inventions of modern technology, Ottoman novelists thematize individual anxieties on a range of topics, which included a criticism of productivity, changing gender roles for men and women, and the new order of time and space. Keeping in mind that drastic changes in technology introduced distinctive modes of experiencing time and space in the nineteenth century, this article suggests that criticism by Ottoman intellectuals can be better understood within the context of the reaction to shifting time-space schemes and the proliferation of new technologies across the globe.

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