Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library: Literature, Grammar, Language, Catalogues and Periodicals

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Elinor Hawkes

I joined Gale in December 2014 as Digital Product Editor, working particularly on our Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library and Stuart & Cumberland Papers from the Royal Archives projects. I’m a qualified archivist and before joining Gale I worked in the Universities sector for nearly 10 years, so I’m delighted to continue working with Archives and Academics in a role that has broadened my horizons and introduced me to new challenges.

Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library: Literature, Grammar, Language, Catalogues and Periodicals, the final module of the Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library collection, launches this month on the 16th December. This module showcases works of Arabic fiction, poetry, grammatical works, catalogues, newspapers and periodicals. Here are some highlights of the collection:

Fiction

One cannot think of pre-twentieth century Arabic fiction and folklore without thinking of The Thousand and One Nights, and this collection includes 58 editions of the work, in both the original Arabic and in several translations, from English to Icelandic. There are also several publications of the individual stories within The Thousand and One Nights, as well as other works of Arabic folklore such as Bidpai’s Fables. As with the other parts of Early Arabic Printed Books from the British Library, this final part continues to demonstrate the transmission of ideas between East and West, as evidenced by Arabic translations of English fictional works such as Robinson Crusoe:

Page from ‘Qiṣṣat Rūbinṣun Kurūzī’ (Malta, 1835). 14586.a.9

Page from ‘Qiṣṣat Rūbinṣun Kurūzī’ (Malta, 1835). 14586.a.9

Poetry

Poetry is the most prevalent form of literature in Arabic culture, and therefore in this module, with over 400 poetical texts included. Many different authors and styles are represented here, including works by female poets such as ʿĀʾishah Taymūrīyah and Wardah Yāzijī:

2)ʿĀʾishah Taymūrīyah, ‘Ḥilyat al-ṭirāz’ (Egypt, 1886). A dīwān, or collection of poems. 14582.d.13(2)

2) ʿĀʾishah Taymūrīyah, ‘Ḥilyat al-ṭirāz’ (Egypt, 1886). A dīwān, or collection of poems. 14582.d.13(2)

Grammatical and lexical works

This module contains several works crucial to the study of the Arabic language, especially as it was understood in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Works that explore Arabic linguistics, Arabic calligraphy, phraseology and pedagogic works are all found here. Many of them showcase the beauty and skill of the Arabic script, such as this work from 1803:

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Plate from ‘Développemens des principes de la langue arabe moderne’ by Auguste François Julien Herbin (Paris, 1803), showcasing Arabic calligraphy. 12904.f.9

Plate from ‘Développemens des principes de la langue arabe moderne’ by Auguste François Julien Herbin (Paris, 1803), showcasing Arabic calligraphy. 12904.f.9

Newspapers and Periodicals

Included in this release are some Arabic newspapers and periodicals. Over 30 newspapers and periodicals will be added to the collection in the next few weeks, starting with ‘al-Muqtaṭaf’, a monthly magazine of science, humanities and arts, as well as novels and short stories printed in Beirut, then Cairo from 1876:

‘al-Muqtaṭaf’, 14546.d

‘al-Muqtaṭaf’, 14546.d

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