Foreign Languages & Literatures ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-8-2019


Beginning its published life in a short Italian version featuring 30 letters in 1684, Letters Writ by a Turkish Spygrew into 102 letters in a French version published in 1686, and between 1687 and 1694 turned into a monumental eight volumes English Edition featuring 632 letters. The hero of the novel, a Muslim Arab spying on Louis XIV’s France for the Ottoman sultan undergoes a transformation by his contact with the Christian world, and his reflections on man, society and God seized the imagination of the public. The novel’s popularity helped its rapid spread over European nations in the first half of the 18thcentury but it fell into oblivion by the time some of the ideas it had helped spread were reprised by the consequential writers of the Enlightenment.

This study sets out to trace the evolution of the Turkish spy’s ideas, from the character’s arrival in Paris in 1637 as a naïve young man at the service of the “Grand Signor” to the cosmopolitan evangelist of Deism and proponent of the Republic of Letters he becomes over the 45 years of his stay in the French capital. This thesis argues that the Turkish Spy presented to its readers a model of internationalist and post-religious or supra-religious attitude long before such ideas became a generally acceptable mode of discourse and a plausible way to look at the world.


Religion, Deism, Muslim, Christian, cosmopolitan, epistolary

Document Type




Degree Name

French Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

First Committee Member (Chair)

Pamela Cheek

Second Committee Member

Stephen Bishop

Third Committee Member

Marina Peters-Newell

Fourth Committee Member

Carmen Nocentelli