Fāris al-Shidyāq

From the working library of Dr. Geoffrey Roper (Cambridge)


The books in this collection come from, or relate to Fāris al-Shidyāq the Lebanese Arab writer, journalist and intellectual, who became a leading figure in the Arab and Muslim Renaissance (Nahḍah) of the 19th century.

The collection was part of the working library of Dr. Geoffrey Roper (Cambridge) who has published on Fāris al-Shidyāq.
It consists of:
- An autograph manuscript written by Fāris al-Shidyāq in February/March 1868: Sirr al-layāl fī 'l-qalb wa-'l-ibdāl. [Nights' secret, on transposition and substitution.]
- 27 other books written and published by Fāris, (about half of which published between 1836 and 1891)
- 19 books written on the author and his work, and
- Approx. 90 related journal articles and off-prints

> Pdf-Flyer and list of titles available for download. (See below!)

Order No.: COL_170
Status: sold
Price: 17 250 € (excl. VAT)

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Fāris al-Shidyāq was born into a Maronite family in Lebanon in 1805 or -06, and was employed as a scribe there in his youth. He acquired an early taste for books, literature and calligraphy, which persisted throughout his life. Between 1826 and the mid-1850s he was employed mainly by English Protestant Missionary organisations in Malta and England to translate and edit religious and educational books for their Arabic press – except for a period in Egypt, 1828-35, where he worked on the first newspaper in the Arab world, and studied and copied classical Arabic literature with Muslim scholars in Cairo.

After his return to Malta he helped to design a new Arabic type-face. Later he was in Great Britain and in France, where he published his famous autobiographical and literary work Al-Sāq ʿalá al-sāq in 1855.

In 1857 he went to Tunis and became a Muslim, taking the name Aḥmad Fāris. After that he went to Istanbul, about 1860, to work at the press of the Ottoman Sultan and to start an Arabic newspaper which brought him considerable fame as a writer and journalist. He subsequently edited and published a long series of Arabic books, mainly classical Arabic literary texts as well as his own later philological works and literary polemics. He died in 1887.

His life and career spanned the transition from scribal copying to the printing press, with both of which he was involved at the practical level. He was also an enthusiastic philologist and lexicographer who made significant contributions to the lexical development of the Arabic language in the 19th century and since.

Dr. Geoffrey Roper is a bibliographical consultant and print historian. He was head of the Islamic Bibliography Unit at Cambridge University Library, 1982-2003, and Editor of Index Islamicus and of the World Survey of Islamic Manuscripts. He has written and lectured on the history of printing and publishing in the Muslim world, and curated an exhibition on the subject at the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz. He was an Associate Editor of the Oxford Companion to the Book (2010) and Bibliographical & Library Adviser to the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (Aga Khan University) in London.