A Journey through the Atmosphere on an Airship


Al-riḥla al-jawwīya fī al-markaba al-hawā'iya (A journey through the atmosphere on an airship) is an Arabic translation by Yusuf Ilyan Sarkis (1856−1932 or 1933) of Cinq Semaines en Ballon (Five weeks in a balloon), a novel by the French author Jules Verne originally published in 1863. Shown here is a second edition of this work, produced by the Jesuit print shop in Beirut in 1884 (the first edition having been published in 1875). The novel tells the story of an explorer, Dr. Samuel Ferguson, who, accompanied by a servant and a friend, sets out to cross the continent of Africa in a hydrogen-filled balloon. One of the objectives is to find the source of the Nile. In Sarkis's translation, the initial chapters of the work are compressed, and the entire work consists of 42 chapters, as opposed to the original 44 chapters. Born in Damascus, Sarkis was one of the foremost Arab authors and editors of his era. He lived for a time in Istanbul but spent most of his adult life in Cairo. He was active as a publisher, bookseller, and man of letters, and he did some research on antiquities generally, but particularly on numismatics. He is best known for his Muʻjam al-maṭbūʻāt al-ʻArabīya wa al-muʻarraba (Encylopaedic dictionary of Arabic bibliography), published in 1928. He died in Cairo.

Last updated: October 17, 2014