Pearls, or Selections of Fond Memory and Immortal Imprint


Al-Durar wa-hiyya Muntakhabat al-Tayyib al-Zikr al-Khalid al-Athr (Pearls, or selections of fond memory and immortal imprint) is a memorial volume that collects the political and literary writing of the influential Arab nationalist Adib Ishaq (1856−85). Born in Damascus, Ishaq was a precocious youngster who received his formative education in Arabic and French at the French Lazarist school there and under the Jesuits in Beirut. His family’s strained circumstances forced him to leave school for work as a customs clerk. Excelling at languages, he supplemented his income by writing and translating and eventually dedicated himself to poetry, translation, and what today might be called advocacy journalism. He moved to Egypt in 1876, where he joined the circle of the well-known political agitator Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, whose Masonic interests he shared and to whose causes, such as criticism of Western imperialism, he devoted much of his writing. Singly or with like-minded colleagues, such as Salim Naqqash (with whom he produced Arabic plays), Ishaq established newspapers of opinion. His outspoken writings resulted in his being exiled from Egypt. He took up residency in Paris, but at the end of his life he returned to Lebanon, where he died at age 29. Ishaq’s restlessness as a traveler was matched by the variety of his literary and political interests. He collaborated with Naqqash in writing plays and wrote or translated novels. His novel Charlemagne is included in this set of readings, which was compiled by his brother, ‘Awni Ishaq. The volume contains a biography of Adib and numerous panegyrics to him by leading Muslim and Christian writers. The comprehensive selection of readings demonstrates his place in the evolution of Arabic letters and journalism from ornate poetry and rhymed prose to the modern political essay employing a wholly new format and lexicon.

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Subject Date

Publication Information

Al-Adabiyah Press, Beirut


Title in Original Language

الدرر وهي منتخبات الطيب الذكر الخالد الأثر

Type of Item

Physical Description

263 pages ; 26 centimeters


  1. Ami Ayalon, The Press in the Arab Middle East (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).
  2. Yusuf Ilyan Sarkis, Mu’jam al-Matbu’at al-‘Arabiyah wa-al-Mu’arrabah (Dictionary of Arabic Imprints) (Cairo: Sarkis, 1928).

Last updated: September 18, 2014