The History of Modern France


Tarikh Faransa al-Hadith (The history of modern France) is a biography of Napoleon Bonaparte rather than, as suggested by the title, a general history of France. The author states that “France is the closest country to us in the Orient commercially and linguistically. We have chosen this topic as serviceable history, that is, the fundamental art upon which public policies, action, and planning are based.” The book is more than 1,000 pages long. Introductory chapters briefly cover geography and history to the 1770s, as well as the French Revolution, leading to the detailed biography. The length and precise detail of the narrative suggest that the work is a translation, but there is no indication of an original, nor are there any notes to help with identification. A comment on the title page mentions that “one hundred pages were compiled by Khattar al-Dahdah,” a Maronite contemporary. The author, Salīm al-Bustānī (1846−84), was the son of the famous scholar and teacher Buṭrus al-Bustānī. He is best known as his father’s alter-ego at the periodical al-Jinan (Gardens), published in Beirut from 1870. The Bustānīs, father and son, are but one example of several leading Lebanese modernist families of the 19th century. Other prominent writers and publishers were the Taqlā brothers, founders of al-Ahram (The pyramids) newspaper, and the Naqqāsh brothers, Mārūn and Niqūlā, who were essayists and playwrights. The book contains numerous engraved or woodcut illustrations derived from French paintings or other originals.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

al-Ma'arif Press, Beirut


Title in Original Language

تاريخ فرنسا الحديث


Type of Item

Physical Description

1040 pages ; 23 centimeters


  1. Philippe de Tarrazi, Tarikh al-Sihafah al-‘Arabiyah (History of the Arab Press). (Baghdad: al-Muthanna, 1967).

Last updated: May 11, 2015