LAUNAY, Louis de. La Turquie que l’on voit, ouvrage illustré de 60 gravures tirées hors texte et de deux cartes en noir, Paris, Hachette, 1913.


Louis Auguste Alphonse de Launay (1860-1938) was a French geologist and speleologist, as well as a poet and writer. He is considered the most important geologist of his country and one of the most renowned mineralogists worldwide. Passionate about the science of geology, Launay graduated "cum laude" from the École Polytechnique and continued his studies in the École de Mines de Paris. He became a mineral engineer and a professor in the École Superieure de Mines, all the while pursuing various other activities in the field of geology, such as drawing a geological map of France and teaching mineralogy and paleontology in other institutes of higher education. Launay became a specialist in mineral deposits, especially of gold and African diamonds. In the field of the history of science, he wrote biographies of eminent specialists in these issues. He was the author also of novels and (from 1885 to 1937) poems. He was also director of the periodical "La Nature" (1904-1919), a member of the Academy of Sciences and a General Inspector of Mines. He was decorated with the "Légion d’Honneur", and remained devoutly religious throughout his life.

From 1896 to his death in 1938, he wrote more than forty books. Launay’s contribution to research, methodology and classification of the sciences that study the genesis and distribution of mineral and metal deposits has yet to be equalled. A man of science and observation, he became a well-respected speaker and author, thanks to his accessible and organized discourse. Of his many works, at least three concern the territories of modern-day Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey: "Chez les Grecs de Turquie" (1897), "La Bulgarie d’hier et de demain" (1907) and the present edition "La Turquie que l’on voit" (1913).

In his introduction, Launay stresses that “there are two Turkeys, the ‘open’ and the ‘closed’ one, and it is the first that attracts the visitors’ interest [...] the new railways will allow the two Turkeys to become united [...] My descriptions will add no new discoveries, no revelations [...] nevertheless the originality of the landscape and the costumes, and more importantly the gravity of the current political issues, will allow us to view the memories of the country’s history with renewed, particular attention...”

Launay returned to Constantinople twenty years after his first visit. He intends that readers will come to love this city, capital of two empires, which was also at the heart of the Eastern Question in his day. After a brief overview of the city’s history, mainly in antiquity and the Byzantine Age, and a description of the monuments of those periods, Launay goes on to sketch the Ottoman past and the related monuments. He visits and describes the Bosporus and the Prince’s Islands, Bursa and Iznik. His journey ends with a brief description of Troy and Smyrna. Each chapter is completed with practical advice for the visitor.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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  • LAUNAY, Louis de. La Turquie que l’on voit, ouvrage illustré de 60 gravures tirées hors texte et de deux cartes en noir, Paris, Hachette, 1913.