Jurji Zaidan was one of the leading thinkers of the Arab h his historical novels, his widely read journal, al-Hilal, which is stillpublished t. Tree of Pearls, Queen of Egypt by Jurji Zaydan, Translated from the Arabic by Samah Selim, BUY DIRECT from Syracuse University Press. By writing historical novels, Jurji Zaidan wanted to provide the common Arabic people with an accurate sense of their own history in an.

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Jurji Zaidan’s grandson was absorbed first in his studies, then in the family publishing business, and later in his long career at the World Bank. Jurji Zaidan’s twenty-two novels were an important part of family lore, certainly. But George Zaidan, who was born 25 years after his grandfather died, was occupied with other jirji. It wasn’t until George Zaidan was in between projects in that his wife suggested he might promote his grandfather’s creative works.

Zaidan’s grandson then set to reading the novels. As he breezed through, Zaidan must have been experienced a delight like that of thousands of other Arab readers, who have continued to devour Zaidan’s novels, much as English readers still devour those by Robert Louis Stevenson and the Zayvan those of Alexandre Dumas.

Zaidan set immediately about a scheme to bring some of the novels into English. He learned to read and write early, but was obliged to put off studying so he could help his illiterate father with bookkeeping. His mother wanted Jurji to return to his studies, but, according to an unpublished autobiography, Jurji’s father said that more education would turn his son “into some westernized dandy…who eats only with fork and knife — and perhaps it will occur to him to wear Frankish clothes.

But in his eventual pursuit of an Arab nahda, or cultural renaissance, Zaidan melded Arab and European ideas. In the words of critic Orit Bashkin, Zaidan’s novels “point to the impossibility of regarding East and West as separate entities. Although Zaidan’s education was put off for several years, he embraced it with vigor and was accepted to the American University in Beirut’s AUB medical college.

However, Zaidan was soon leading protests against the unfair dismissal of a professor. The protests led AUB administration to close the school for the year.

So, inZaidan decided to set off for Egypt, where he thought he could finish his medical training. Zaidan’s unfinished autobiography ends here. Like the chapters of many of his novels, it leaves us with a cliffhanger. Zaidan and a friend were not admitted to medical school.

Whatever the reason, Zaidan worked instead as a journalist and founded Cairo’s Dar al-Hilal magazine, in which he elaborated on his reformist ideas jrji serialized his novels. However, when academics began to shape the story of the Arabic novel, Zaidan’s works were brushed aside as unimportant. For a long time, zayda didn’t appreciate the Arabic historical novel.


Jurji Zaydan (Author of غادة كربلاء)

jurki As a result, Zaidan was “massively underappreciated” by scholars and translators, Allen said. But, after the defeat, Arab scholars began to re-examine many things.

Since then, interest in Zaidan’s work has been building. Zaidan’s books are particularly appealing, Allen said, kurji, “They’re easy reads, they’re tremendous fun to translate. It’s all terrific stuff. Although George Zaidan said he could have worked with traditional publishers, he has chosen to self-publish with all but one of the novels.

This allows him control of the project, he said. Self-publishing, for instance, left him freer “to continue Zaidan’s educational mission in the translations by including study guides in all of them as well as scholarly assessments in some.

George Zaidan, like his grandfather, insists on the historical accuracy of the novels. Allen agreed, saying that, “The more I look at the actual history, everything Zaidan put in that book is historically correct. Including the love story. The novels are occasionally too educational for a contemporary audience. Now and again, they are pedantic in their asides, which insist on a woman’s right to education and or an egalitarian relationship between the sexes.

Nonetheless, the plots are so fun that it is surprising they have not been more widely translated. Allen explained this by noting that Arabic-to-English translation was largely a “post WWII” project, and most translations to date have happened because of a personal relationship between author and translator. Moreover, “Western scholarship was more in search of social realism than in rehashing history.

Jurji Zaydan – Wikipedia

Translator Samah Selim said she worked for several years on the novel, which was one of her favorites. The Arabic novel’s story is now being re-imagined, Allen said. He quoted Oscar Wilde: Many thanks for the article!

Jurji Zaydan was also a historian, and much of what he says in his History of Islamic Civilization continues to be repeated in modern histories. Whether it is true or not whatever that would mean is another question. In the novels, certainly, he was out to tell a good story, and thereby encourage people to take an interest in “Arab” and “Islamic” history–categories he helped create.

In The Caliph’s Heirs, the novel I translated, practically all the historical claims are wrong or misleading. Zeidan and I had a productive discussion of this issue, and my point of view appears in my introduction and in the study guide.

So, with all due respect to my friend Roger Allen, there’s little historical accuracy–not in my novel, at least. And, for reasons that he and Samah Selim explain very well, the novels are worth reading anyway. Jesus, born a Jew, spent his days in the region now known as Israel. He was born in Bethlehem and lived by the Sea of Galilee. Christians believe that he was crucified at Golgotha outside Jerusalem — only to rise from the dead three days later.


Skip to main content. By writing historical novels, Jurji Zaidan wanted to provide the common Arabic people with an accurate sense of their own history in an accessible, entertaining way. His novels were unavailable in English for nearly a century. But now, in the last two years, six English translations have appeared.

An Arab Alexandre Dumas: Jurji Zaidan and his family circa In his pursuit of an Arab cultural renaissance, Zaidan melded Arab and European ideas. Zaidan’s “The Caliph’s heirs” is set in 9th century Baghdad. It describes the fall of the Abbasid Empire. Poverty is more than a lack of money, as the World Bank definition confirms. Moreover, it is harder to bear in countries where social inequality is more marked and individuals But the visit served another purpose: The fourth Qalandiya International exhibition opens with shows in the West Bank and Gaza, but also in Lebanon and Germany, crossing borders the Palestinians themselves can’t pass What triggered the Middle Eastern revolts in ?

The economics of Arabellion Syrian historian Nasser Rabbat argues that the Arab Spring resulted mainly from social imbalance and the misery of large sections of the population within the Arab world. Primary Documents” Pioneering volume or seminal work? A book of texts on modern art in the Arab world is causing a furore.

Jurji Zaydan

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In the footsteps of Jesus Jesus, born a Jew, spent his days in the region now known as Israel.

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