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Portraits of N. V. Gogol: 1809–1909
This collection of portraits of Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (1809–52) was published under the auspices of the Society of Lovers of Russian Literature for the centenary of the birth of Gogolʹ, a Ukrainian-born Russian playwright, novelist, and writer of short stories. The book is divided into two parts: an annotated list of the known portraits of the writer on pages 3–15, followed by reproductions of each portrait. The portraits trace Gogol’s life in chronological order, from 1827 before he was well known, until his death in Moscow in ...
Menaion for June-August with Synaxarion
This parchment manuscript of the Menaion for June–August with synaxarion (a collection of brief biographies of the saints) can be dated to the second half of the 13th century. It is important as the earliest known manuscript to include the service of Saint Ioakim Osogovski (Joachim of Osogovo), hermit and founder of the monastery known as Sarandapor. His memory, celebrated on August 16, was popular in Bulgaria and elsewhere in the Balkans during the Middle Ages and in the period of the Bulgarian National Revival of the 18th and ...
Armenian Liturgical Calendar
Parzatumar (Armenian liturgical calendar) was the second book printed in Armenian, after the Urbathagirq (The book of Fridays). Both books were published by Hakob Meghapart (Jacob the Sinner), who in 1512 settled among the Armenian community in Venice and established the first Armenian press. In this copy, from the National Library of Armenia, the two works are bound together. Little is known about Hakob Meghapart, or why he styled himself “the Sinner” (or “the Sinful”). Armenia was at this time under the rule of the Ottoman Turks, and the Diaspora ...
The Book Known as “The Sulṭānī History”
Tārīkh-i Sulṭānī (The Sulṭānī history) is a historical study of the Afghan people and the rulers of Afghanistan from the beginnings of Islam to the mid-19th century. The work was published as a lithographic print in Bombay (present-day Mumbai) in 1881. This copy has been rebound, with “Ṣaḥāfī Sulṭān Muḥammad, Kabul" gold-stamped on the back cover. The title page and pages 3−4 are damaged and repaired with no loss of text. The last page (page 291) has been repaired and missing text added in ink in a later hand ...
Secret of Success
Samuel Smiles was a Scottish author and physician. He dropped out of school at 14 years of age but returned to finish the study of medicine at the University of Edinburgh. His most famous work, Self-Help, which Ya’qub Sarrūf here translates into Arabic, made him a best-selling author and celebrity. Sarrūf was one of the earliest graduates of the American University in Beirut. He was a significant figure in what is called the Arab renaissance of the second half of the 19th century and was awarded an honorary doctorate ...
This manuscript, created in the Byzantine Empire in the second quarter of the 11th century, contains the biographies of saints whom the church commemorates in the month of January. It was originally part of a set containing volumes for each month of the year. A companion volume, with texts for March, now survives in Moscow (State Historical Museum, MS gr. 183). Each chapter in both manuscripts opens with a miniature depicting the death of a respective saint, or less often, another significant event from his or her life. Each text ...
Biography of Zou Rong
Zou Rong (1885−1905), whose original name was Zou Shaotao, was also called Guiwen and had the style name Weidan. He was a native of Baxian, Sichuan. He changed his name to Zou Rong while studying in Japan. In 1903 he published a little book entitled Ge ming jun (The revolutionary army), calling for the Chinese people to carry out revolution, overthrow the Manchu regime, and establish the Chinese republic. Zhang Taiyan (1868−1936), a Chinese philologist, philosopher, and also a revolutionary, wrote the preface. It was published in the ...
The History of Genghizcan the Great, First Emperor of the Antient Moguls and Tartars
This early Western history of Genghis Khan, the 13th-century Mongol Emperor who established the world’s largest contiguous empire, is by François Pétis (1622-95), an interpreter of Arabic and Turkish at the French court. In a long and distinguished career, Pétis translated a history of France into Turkish, compiled a French-Turkish dictionary, and created a catalog of the Turkish and Persian manuscripts owned by the king of France. François Pétis de la Croix (1653-1713), the son of François Pétis, took over the position of interpreter from his father in 1695 ...
Sketches from the Life of Mahmud Pasa
This manuscript, completed by an anonymous scribe in 1716, is a copy of a late-15th century biography of Mahmud Pasha, who served as grand vizier to Sultan Mehmed II. Mahmud Pasha (surnamed Angelović) came from Byzantine Christian parents, and was known for his military leadership and his patronage of literature and the arts. He fell out of favor with the sultan and was executed in 1474. Mahmud Pasha was popular, and stories from his life were widely read. The author of the original 15th-century work is unknown. The manuscript is ...
An Interesting History of Robert Burns; The Ayrshire Bard
Robert Burns (1759-96) is best known for his poems and songs that reflect Scotland's cultural heritage. He was born in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland, the first of seven children belonging to William Burnes, a tenant farmer, and his wife Agnes Broun. Burns had little formal education, but he read English literature and absorbed the traditional, largely oral Scots-language folk songs and tales of his rural environment. He began to compose songs in 1774, and published his first book, Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, in 1786. The work was a ...
The Life of the Prophet
Maghāzī al-Nabī (The life of the Prophet) depicts the life of the Prophet Muhammad in poetical form. The original work was composed by a famous Arabic and Persian scholar of Kashmir, Ya‘qub Ṣarfī (1521–95). The unique poetic and biographical work, transcribed in two columns on each page of manuscript, includes some supplications and eulogies for the Prophet of Islam. Each column is bordered in lines inlaid with gold. The writing of the manuscript is clear and vivid.
The Interesting History of Prince Lee Boo, Brought to England from the Pelew Islands
The Interesting History of Prince Lee Boo, Brought to England from the Pelew Islands, is an abridged version of a longer work by George Keate (1729-97), An Account of the Pelew Islands, Situated in the Western Part of the Pacific Ocean. Composed from the Journals and Communications of Captain Henry Wilson, and some of his Officers, who, in August 1783, were there Shipwrecked, in the Antelope, a Packet belonging to the Hon. East India Company, published in 1788. The book tells the story of Captain Henry Wilson’s shipwreck on ...
Biography of the Dragon-like Heavenly Sovereign and Emperor of High Virtue
The original edition of this work was described in the annotated catalog Dao zang mu lu xiang zhu (Catalog of the Daoist canon with detailed annotations) as consisting of six juan. The work is a biography of Laozi, who was traditionally regarded as the author of Dao de jing and the founder of Daoism. The earliest reference to Laozi is found in Shi ji (The records of the grand historian), by Chinese historian Sima Qian (circa 145–86 BC). Laozi was often said to be a contemporary of Confucius (551 ...
A Discourse in Commendation of the Valiant as Virtuous Minded Gentleman, Mister Frauncis Drake: With a Rejoicing of his Happy Adventures
This small book by the Elizabethan writer Nicholas Breton (circa 1545-1622) is a work of praise addressed to Francis Drake for his voyage around the world of 1577-80. The fact that it refers to Drake as “master” rather than “sir” suggests that it was published some time between September 26, 1580, when Drake returned to Plymouth, and April 14, 1581, when Queen Elizabeth I visited Drake’s ship and conferred knighthood upon him. Breton mentions the booty brought home by Drake, but is silent as to how it was acquired ...
Adventures in Swaziland: the Story of a South African Boer
The author of this work, Owen Rowe O’Neil, was a South African Boer (farmer) of Irish descent who grew up near the border between Swaziland and the Transvaal. As a child and an adult he made frequent trips to Swaziland. O’Neil’s book describes warfare, customs, political organization, and medicine in late-19th and early-20th century Swaziland, as well as recounts O’Neil’s numerous personal encounters with King Buno, his mother, Queen Labotsibeni, Crown Prince Sebuza, and other members of the royal family. Swaziland came under the control ...
This 18th-century manuscript, dated 1733 in the colophon, is called an Al-Sinkisār (Synaxarion), meaning a collection of brief biographies of the saints, mostly used in the Orthodox Church. The account of the life of a saint is read as a lesson when that saint’s day is celebrated in church. Each day of the year is marked in this synaxarion with red ink, and then follows a brief narrative for the particular saint or saints celebrated that day. The text is Garshuni (Arabic written in Syriac script). Garshuni Arabic is ...
Lives of the Saints
This Garshuni (Arabic written in Syriac letters) manuscript of Qisas al-qiddīsīn (Lives of the saints) dates from 1692–93 and was written by a scribe named Murad bin 'Abd Al-Masih. It is a collection of biographical accounts of the saints’ lives and homilies. The authors of these various biographies are, for the most part, anonymous. The text is mostly in two columns, but there are some pages with only one. A number of marginal notes in Garshuni and Arabic script accompany the text. Garshuni came into use when Arabic became ...
Life of Barsawma
This undated manuscript of Ktāba d-ḥayyāw(y) d-qaddišā mār(y) Barṣawmā (Life of Barsawma) contains a narrative of the miraculous life of Barsawma (died about 492). The manuscript is in Syriac, but this text also is known in Ge'ez, the classical language of Ethiopia. Barsawma is said to have performed about 100 miracles, detailed here, and he was involved in the Christological controversies of the fifth century. A famous monastery near Melitene in present-day Turkey is named after him. The folios of the manuscript are unnumbered, but ...
Book of Poetry and Poets
Abdullah ibn Muslim ibn Qutaibah (828–85 AD, 213–76) was an Arab literary historian and critic and an Islamic jurist and scholar. He was born in Kufa, in present-day Iraq, and spent much of his life in Baghdad, where he died. His Al-shiir wal shuaraa (Book of poetry and poets) is considered a major classic of Arabic literature and a pioneering work of literary criticism. It is a biographical encyclopedia of more than 200 leading Arab poets, spanning the pre-Islamic period to the early Abbasid era (the sixth century ...
The One of a Kind
Abdulmalik ibn Muhammad al-Thaalibi (961–1038 AD, 350–429 AH) was a leading linguist, literary figure, and poet. He was born in the trading and cultural center of Nishapur in Persia (present-day Iran). Yateemet al-dahr (The one of a kind) is the most famous of his more than 80 works. The book is a compilation of biographies of the poets of the time, divided into four main sections, each of which covers a region: the poets of al-Sham (Levant) and its environs; the Buwayhid poets (Western Persia and Iraq); the ...
The History of Muslim Philosophers in the East and the West
Muhammad Lutfi Jumaa (1886–1953) was an Egyptian-born lawyer, political activist, linguist, translator, and novelist. The History of Muslim Philosophers in the East and the West is a compilation of biographies of some of the most famous Muslim scholars. It analyzes the life history, upbringing, doctrinal leanings, and views of many leading Muslim thinkers, philosophers, and scholars. Figures covered in the work include Al-Farabi, Al-Kindi, Ibn Sina, Ibn Bajah, Ibn Tufail, Ibn Rushd, Ibn Khaldoun, Ibn Al-Haytham, Ibn Arabi, and others.