(Hürriyet Newspaper, 10 February 2014)
Taken to task 150 years later for script insensitivity.
A 'critical' footnote by a Turkish editor in the
June 2013 translation of Victor Hugo's 1862 novel
'Les Miserables', published by Ötüken Yayınları,
has gotten attention on social media.
Editor Erol Kılınç translated the text of an
Ottoman Turkish version of 'Les Miserables',
done originally in 1907 by Avanzade M. Süleyman,
into modern Turkish. In his controversial footnote,
Kılınç took strong exception to Hugo's characterization
of the Paris sewer system as resembling the supposed
disorder of eastern writing scripts (Ottoman, Arabic).
The Hugo passage that sparked Kılınç's ire reads as
follows: "(the sewers) are set in deep darkness and arranged
randomly as if like a bush, like the confused and shapeless
letters of the east..." This prompted Kılınç's enraged footnote:
"How rude of you! If your letters had any aesthetic arrangement
a branch of art like calligraphy would have emerged from your
When footnotes bite back.