[Ahmad FARIS Shidyaq ] [Arabic] Bakura al-shahiyah 1836

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[Ahmad FARIS Shidyaq (aka Fares Chidiac, Faris Al Chidiac)]. [Arabic script, transliteration:] B?k?rah al-shah?yah f? na?w al-lughah al-Inkil?z?yah. [Pleasant beginnings?]

Offered for sale by Adam Langlands of 'Shadowrock Rare Books' - for more information please contact him via email at adamlanglands@gmail.com 

One of three known copies?: in Arabic explaining English grammar, printed in Malta. 

[Ahmad FARIS Shidyaq (1804/5 – 1887, known also as Fares Chidiac, Faris Al Chidiac]. Arabic script, transliteration:] B?k?rah al-shah?yah f? na?w al-lughah al-Inkil?z?yah. [Pleasant beginnings…] [Malta: 1836]. Octavo  (9 x 5 3/4in; 229 x 146mm). Pp. [1-104] but page ‘1’ at ‘rear’ and ‘104’ at ‘front’ in accordance with normal practice. Title in Arabic with decorative surround composed from typographic ornaments. Text in Arabic [i.e the Egyptian dialect] and English. Original blue cloth-backed paper-covered boards (extremities damaged, light soiling). Provenance: Berkeley family, Spetchley Park, Worcestershire, England (bought at auction, incorrectly described). 

Excellent unsophisticated copy of a very rare work, an English grammar written in Arabic, from a writer who is today considered to be “one of the founding fathers of modern Arabic literature”. OCLC 122741340 (1 copy at Yale), but the British Library also have a copy, from which the Gale online version is taken.

See ‘Arabic under Shidyaq in Malta 1833-1838’ by Dionisius A. Agius. (https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/bitstream/123456789/29018/1/ARABIC%20UNDER%20SHIDYAQ%20IN%20MALTA%201833-1848.pdf)

“Since 2001, scholars around the world seem to have rediscovered Ahmad Faris Shidyaq. Several books have been published about his life, thought and unpublished works. Shidyaq's major works were dedicated to the modernization of the Arabic language, the promotion of the Arab culture in opposition to the turkization movement of the 19th century Ottoman Empire, and the modernization of the Arab societies.” Wikipedia.

Ahmad Faris Shidyaq was born into a Maronite Christian family “in 1804 in Ashquot, a mountain village of the Keserwan District in the modern Mount Lebanon Governate. … His family was very well educated, and its members worked as secretaries for the governors of Mount Lebanon. In 1805, the family was forced to leave Ashqout following a conflict with a local governor; Butrus al-Shidyaq…

The family settled in Hadath, in the suburbs of Beirut, [working in the ]… service of a Shihabi prince. Faris joined his brothers, Tannous … and Assaad …, and his maternal cousin Boulos Massaad …, in Ayn Warqa school, one of the most prestigious Maronite schools of the 19th century. Again, a family conflict, in which the Shidyaq were at odds with the Prince… obliged their father Youssef Ash-Shidyaq to take refuge in Damascus, where he died in 1820.

Faris left school and continued his studies under his older brothers Assaad and Tannous. He joined his brother Tannous as a copyist at the service of the Prince Haydar Shihab; their brother Assaad worked as the secretary of … Sheikh Ali Al-Emad in Kfarnabrakh… Assaad's life had a major influence on the life and career of Faris. Around 1820, Assaad Shidyaq encountered Jonas King, [an American] Protestant missionary … eventually Assaad became Protestant. He was excommunicated under the … edict issued by the Maronite Patriarch Youssef Hobaish (1823–1845), who sought to prevent all dealings with the Protestant missionaries. Assaad was later detained for years in the Monastery of Qannoubine in the Qadisha valley, where he died in 1830. By 1825, Faris … left Lebanon for Egypt, as he was tormented by his brother's ordeals. Assaad's death permanently affected the younger man's choices and his career. He never forgave his brother Tannous [or]… his cousin … for … their role in the events that led to the death of Assaad.

In 1826, Faris married Marie As-Souly, daughter of a wealthy Christian family, who were originally from Syria. They had two sons: …. From 1825 to 1848, Faris divided his time [between]… Cairo and … the island of Malta. … In Malta, he was the director of the printing press of [the]American missionaries. He also studied Figh in Al-Azhar University in Cairo … Faris is believed to have converted to Protestantism during this period in Egypt, an extended time of relative solitude and study.

In 1848 he was invited to Cambridge, England by the Orientalist Samuel Lee (1783–1852) to participate in the Arabic translation of the Bible [published in 1857] …. Faris stayed in England with his family for almost 7 years…. [Towards the end of this period] … he moved to Oxford, … became [a] naturalized… British citizen, [and]… tried in vain to secure a teaching post. Disappointed by England … he moved to Paris, France around 1855 [where he] …stayed … till 1857. … In Paris he wrote and published his major works. It is also in Paris … where he became a Socialist. …

His wife died in 1857. Faris later married an English woman, Safia, who had embraced Islam. They had one daughter together, Rosalinde Faris. The couple moved to Tunisia, at the invitation [of] the Bey of Tunis. He was appointed as editor-in-chief of the newspaper Al Ra'ed, and supervisor of the Education Directorate. While in Tunisia, Faris converted to Islam … in 1860 and took the name Ahmad. He soon afterwards left Tunis for Istanbul, Turkey, …

Ahmad Faris spent the last part of his life in Istanbul where, in addition to [working]… as an official translator, he founded in 1861 an Arabic newspaper Al Jawa'eb… It was modeled on the modern Western newspapers and continued publication until 1884.

Ahmad Faris strongly defended [the] use of the Arabic language and its heritage, and Arabic culture against the Turkization attempts of the Turkish reformers of the 19th century. Ahmad Faris Ash-Shidyaq is considered one of the founding fathers of modern Arabic literature and journalism.” (Wikipedia)

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