What 'Isa ibn Hisham Told Us

Or, A Period of Time

524 pages

April, 2018

ISBN: 9781479840915

$17

Paper

Add to Cart Available: 3/10/2018

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Authors

Muhammad al-Muwaylihi (1274-1348 H/1858-1930 AD) was an Egyptian writer and political journalist, a career that he shared with his prominent father, Ibrahim al-Muwaylihi, with whom he also published the reputable and incisive newspaper Misbah al-Sharq (Light of the East). Other notable works include Critique of Shawqi’s Collected Poems and Cure for the Soul.

All books by Muhammad al-Muwaylihi

Roger Allen retired in 2011 from his position as the Sascha Jane Patterson Harvie Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he served for forty-three years as Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature. He is the author and translator of numerous publications on Arabic literature, modern fiction and drama, and language pedagogy.

All books by Roger Allen

Maria Golia is a Cairo-based journalist and the author of Cairo: City of Sand and Photography and Egypt.

All books by Maria Golia

Trenchant and witty critiques of life in Cairo under British rule

What ?Isa ibn Hisham Told Us is a masterpiece of early 20th-century Arabic prose. Penned by the Egyptian journalist Mu?ammad al-Muwayli?i, this highly original work was first introduced in serialized form in his family’s pioneering newspaper Mi?ba? al-Sharq (Light of the East) and later published in book form in 1907. Widely hailed for its erudition and mordant wit, What ?Isa ibn Hisham Told Us was embraced by Egypt’s burgeoning reading public and soon became required reading for generations of school students.

Bridging classical genres and modern Arabic fiction, What ?Isa ibn Hisham Told Us is divided into two parts. Sarcastic in tone and critical in outlook, the first part of the book relates the excursions of its narrator, ?Isa ibn Hisham, and his companion, the Pasha, through a rapidly westernizing Cairo and provides vivid commentary on a society negotiating—however imperfectly—the clash between traditional norms and imported cultural values. The second half takes the narrator to Paris to visit the Exposition Universelle of 1900, where al-Muwayli?i casts a critical eye on European society, modernity, and the role of Western imperialism as it ripples across the globe.

Paving the way for the modern Arabic novel, What ?Isa ibn Hisham Told Us is invaluable both for its insight into colonial Egypt and its pioneering role in Arabic literary history.