AL-HAKIM, Tawfiq.

Journal d'un substitut de campagne.

Traduit de l'arabe par G. Wiet et Z. M. Hassan. Préface de S.E. Hafez Afidi Pacha, ancien ambassadeur d'Egypte à Londres.

Cairo: La Revue du Caire, 1939 Stock Code: 141117
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First edition in any western language of the second novel, widely considered as one of his best, by a key figure in the development of modern Egyptian literature. A limited edition of 450 copies, this 349, signed by the author, rare with just four locations identified world-wide: American Universities Beirut and Cairo, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, and Bibliothèque de Diderot Lyon.

First appearance in a western language of Egyptian novelist and playwright Tawfiq al-Hakim's classic 1937 Diary of a Country Prosecutor. Hakim was one of the most important Arabic literary figures of the 20th century. This novel, his second, was based on his own experiences working in rural Egyptian courts in the early 1930s. Part detective story part memoir, it "shows Hakim's descriptive power at its best: in it the author succeeded in giving a remarkably vivid picture not only of his life as a district attorney, but of the entire machinery of justice as it operates in Egyptian villages" (Badawi, A Passion for Experimentation: The Novels and Plays of Tawfiq al-Hakim, p. 954).

This French translation, which appeared in Cairo two years after the publication of the original Arabic, was a collaboration between two highly respected scholars of Islamic history. Gaston Wiet, founder of the Revue du Caire on whose presses this book was published, was director of the Museum of Arab Art in Cairo from 1926 until 1951 and a prolific scholar on a wide range of subjects related to the Islamic world. His long-term collaborator, Zaki Muhammad Hassan, was a Egyptian historian who got his doctorate in Paris and spent his life as an academic in both Egypt and Iraq. There is also an introduction by Egyptian politician and diplomat Hafez Afifi Pasha, former Egyptian foreign minister and ambassador to London.

This publication was part of an early phase in the translation of Arabic literature into European languages and, until the 1970s, it was one of only two "works of contemporary Arabic literature to have been translated into more than one major European language" (Jacquemond, Conscience of the Nation (2008), p. 312) Abba Eban, future Israeli politician and ambassador to the USA and UN, translated the novel into English in 1947 under the title Maze of Justice. This copy from the library of French sailor Pierre Omer Bernard Mittelman (1898-1969), a former captain with the Suez Canal Company who joined the Free French Naval Forces, and in 1941, under the code-name Lancelot, acted as a go-between in ill-fated negotiations between Churchill and Weygand (see Thomas, Britain and Vichy: The Dilemma of Anglo-French Relations 194042, pp. 84-5).

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Octavo (194 x 130 mm). Contemporary red half morocco-grained skiver, marbled boards, title gilt to spine, initials P. M. at the tail, sepia patterned endpapers, front panel of the original light card wrappers, printed in green and black, bound in place. Bound by the Atelier de Reliure de l'Imprimerie Tasso Printing Works, Ismailia. Text printed on thick wove paper


Lightly rubbed, a couple of small scuffs to the boards, pale toning to the text-block, overall very good.


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