Jirji Zaydan

Zaydan, Jirji

 

Born Dec. 14, 1861, in Beirut; died Aug. 21, 1914, in Cairo. Arab writer, publicist, and scholar.

Zaydan, son of a Christian petty merchant, studied at the Medical College in Beirut (1881-82). During the 1880’s he emigrated to Egypt, where he founded the journal al-Hilal (1892).

Zaydan originated the genre of the historical novel in modern Arabic literature. He was the author of 17 historical novels, which form A Series of Stories From the History of Islam’, the action takes place during the seventh through the 13th centuries (Hassanid Woman, 1895-96, and The Sister of Harun al-Rashid, 1906; Russian translation, 1970). A number of Zaydan’s novels deal with Egypt during the 18th and 19th centuries (including The Arbitrary Cruelty of the Mamelukes, 1893) and contemporary historical events (The Ottoman Revolt, 1911).

Zaydan’s books, written in a language that is almost conversational, won popularity in the Arab East as well as in other Muslim countries. They have been translated into many Oriental and Western languages. As a scholar Zaydan is well known for A History of Muslim Civilization (1902-06), A His-tory of the Arabic Language (1904), and A History of Arabic Literature (1911-14).

REFERENCES

Krachkovskii, I. lu. Izhr. soch., vol. 3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1956.
Arasly, E. G. Dzhirdzhi Zcidcin i arabskii istoricheskii roman. Moscow, 1967.
Eléments de biobibliographic de la litterature arabe, vol. 2. Com-piled by J. Dagher. Beirut, 1956. Pages 442-48.
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These works participate in a tradition of modern Arabic autobiographical writings which has its roots in such nineteenth- and early twentieth-century writings as Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq's magnum opus (1855 [1966]) and Jirji Zaydan's autobiography (1908).