In the 1820s, Rifa'a al-Tahtawi, a young Muslim cleric, was a leading member of the first Egyptian educational mission to Paris, where he remained for five years, compiling his observations of European culture for the benefit of his countrymen. His account, Takhlis al-Ibriz fi Talkhis Bariz, is one of the earliest records of the Muslim encounter with Enlightenment-era European ideas. Al-Tahtawi's book helped introduce ideas of modernity to his native land. In addition to its historical and literary value, al-Tahtawi's work offers invaluable insight into early conceptions of Europe and the Other. Its observations are as vibrant and palpable today as they were over 150 years ago, informative and often acute, to very humorous effect. This annotated translation is the first in English of this classic book, and was originally published by SAQI in 2004. It features a ninety page introduction and is extensively annotated by a scholar fluent in the life, times and milieu of its narrator.
Daniel L. Newman is Professor of Arabic and Course Director of the MA in Arabic-English Translation and Interpreting at the University of Durham. His other works include Modern Arabic Short Stories: A Bilingual Reader (with Ronak Husni, Saqi Books, 2008).
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