In the 1820s, Rifa‘a Rafi‘ al-Tahtawi, a young Muslim cleric, was a leading member of the first Egyptian educational mission to Paris, where he remained for five years, documenting his observations of European culture.
His account, Takhlis al-Ibriz fi Talkhis Bariz, is one of the earliest and most influential records of the Muslim encounter with Enlightenment-era European thought, introducing 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 humorous effect.
An irrefutable classic, this new edition of the first English translation is of seminal value. It is introduced and carefully annotated by a scholar fluent in the life, times and milieu of its narrator.
About the Author
Daniel L. Newman is Head of the Arabic Studies Department, Professor of Arabic and Course Director of the MA in Arabic–English Translation and Interpreting at the University of Durham, UK. His publications include Modern Arabic Short Stories, The Sultan's Sex Potions, A to Z of Arabic-English-Arabic Translation and An Imam in Paris, all by Saqi Books.
‘Daniel L. Newman is to be congratulated on making the first translation into English of this remarkable book, and on supporting the text with a first-class introduction and with footnotes that are as full as one could wish.’
Times Literary Supplement
‘A touchstone for thinking about the tangled relations between Islam and modernity’
‘[A] fine translation ... extensively and meticulously notated’
International History Review