To Main Page

To The Book List

International Folktales Collection

To Next Book

To Previous Book

Book No. 90

To first story in the book press: 3931

To last story in the book press: 3959

Told in the Coffee House

Adler Cyrus & Ramsay Allan

Adler Cyrus & Ramsay Allan, Told in the Coffee House, The Macmillan Company, London, 1898


Turkish Tales

Collected and done into English



New York

The Macmillan Company

London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd.


All rights reserved

Copyright, 1898,




In the course of a number of visits to Constantinople, I became much interested in the tales that are told in the coffee houses. These are usually little more than rooms, with walls made of small panes of glass. The furniture consists of a tripod with a contrivance for holding the kettle, and a fire to keep the coffee boiling. A carpeted bench traverses the entire length of the room. This is occupied by turbaned Turks, their legs folded under them, smoking nargilehs or chibooks or cigarettes, and sipping coffee. A few will be engaged in a game of backgammon, but the majority enter into conversation, at first only in syllables, which gradually gives rise to a general discussion. Finally, some sage of the neighborhood comes in, and the company appeals to him to settle the point at issue. This he usually does by telling a story to illustrate his opinion. Some of the stories told on these occasions are adaptations of those already known in Arabic and Persian literature, but the Turkish mind gives them a new setting and a peculiar philosophy. They are characteristic of the habits, customs, and methods of thought of the people, and for this reason seem worthy of preservation.

Two of these tales have been taken from the Armenian, and were received from Dr. K. Ohannassian of Constantinople. For one, The Merciful Khan, I am indebted to Mr. George Kennan. None of them has been translated from any book or manuscript, and all are, as nearly as practicable, in the form in which they are usually narrated. Most of the stories have been collected by Mr. Allan Ramsay, who, by a long residence in Constantinople, has had special opportunities for learning to know the modern Turk. It is due to him, however, to say that for the style and editing he is in no wise responsible, and that all sins of omission and commission must be laid at my door.


Cosmos Club, Washington,

February I, 1898.

To Next Book

To Privious Book