The moral picturesque is associated, in Dimitrie Ralet's Travel Souvenirs and Impressions from Romania, Bulgaria, Constantinople, 1858, with the ethnographic and lexical picturesque ("He was a scrawny Turk, dressed in shalwar, jelek [vest] and kebe [cloak], with a raggedy tarabolus [scarf] at his waist; on his head he was wearing a fez bordered by one or two discolored headlocks.") On Pera street may be seen a Turkish effendi, a pale softa, an ulema "with purple boots," the santon, "who tells the truth to viziers but is taken for a fool," the vedevi dervish, "gloomier as his sway is declining"; then a Circassian, a Persian, a wan Jew, the English soldier, the skinny, big-boned Arab woman, the Sardinian bersagliere, the Arab, the unbraided woman from Smyrna, the chic Frenchwoman, the melancholy Englishwoman… That is Constantinople, "the city whose pictorialness comes out of confusion," cumulating "memories from all centuries and nations…" Excerpted from: The Auspices of Hermes. Travel Memoirs (before 1900) between the Real and the Imaginary, Minerva, 1993

by Florin Faifer