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DE AMICIS, Edmondo. Constantinople ouvrage traduit de l’Italien avec l’autorisation de l’Auteur par Mme J. Colomb et illustré de 183 dessins pris sur nature par C. Biseo, Paris, Hachette, 1883.

Εdmondo De Amicis (1846-1908) was an Italian journalist and prolific writer. He initially embarked on a military career. After the great success of his “Bozzeti di vita militare” (1868), which depicted the army in idealized fashion, as an institution with an educational mission, he dedicated himself exclusively to writing. He travelled frequently and published his impressions on Spain (1873), London (1874), the Netherlands (1874), Morocco (1876), Paris (1879) and Istanbul (1878).

De Amicis also wrote school books and books for children. He achieved international renown with his novel “Cuore” (Heart) of 1886, the diary of a ten-year old school boy. Along with Carlo Colodi's “Pinocchio”, “Heart” became on of the most widely read children's books, and has been translated into two hundred languages. From 1890 onwards De Amicis supported socialism, and wrote a series of articles and studies on social and political matters. He also wrote treatises on friendship, the Italian language, and works inspired by his travels to North America (1884) and Sicily (1908). The sad events that occurred in his family hastened his demise.

This work was first published in Italian in 1877. It was republished fifteen times, translated into French (1878) and along with other works of his, translated into Greek in 1896 by Dimitrios Vernardakis. The Greek translation succeeded in retaining De Amicis’ particular style, which, alongside with the wealth of observations and descriptions, attracts and moves his readers.

Istanbul at the end of 19th century unfolds in an enchanting as well as realistic fashion (Galata bridge with its multifarious multicultural crowd, the bazaar, the monuments, the palaces, the walls and Bosporus. At the same time, images from everyday life come alive in the rich illustrations by C. Biseo, which run through the text, and are more successful than photographs in rendering the ambience of this perpetually fascinating eastern and cosmopolitan city.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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