Excellence in the Rhetorical Arts


Al-Khawāṭir al-ḥisān fī al-ma‘ānī wa-al-bayān (Excellence in the rhetorical arts) is an introduction for students to the elements of Arabic composition. The work emphasizes the correct choice of words and the importance of the sentence as the basic building block of written composition and formal speech. The author, Jabr Dumit (1858−1930), was a teacher at the Syrian Evangelical College in Beirut. In this primer of grammar and usage he introduces students to the various kinds of sentences (declarative, interrogative, and so forth), giving examples of grammatical construction and pointing out pitfalls, such as confusion over use of pronouns and their antecedents. He moves from simple prescription to the handling of more complex conditional sentences and embellishments. The work no doubt was intended for use at the mission schools in the Levant. This printing at Al-Hilal Press in Egypt indicates that it was adopted more widely in the region. Dumit was born in Safita (in present-day Syria, near the border with Lebanon). He was educated at American missionary schools and spent much of his teaching life at the schools in Beirut. In 1882 he travelled to Egypt, where he was employed first at the newspaper Al-Mahrusah (The protected one [i.e. Cairo]) and later as a translator with the British armed force sent to the Sudan in 1884−85. He returned to Lebanon, where he died in 1930. Dumit dedicated the book to the memory of American missionary Mrs. Samuel Jessop, whose home he frequented as a child.

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Al-Hilal Press, Cairo


Title in Original Language

الخواطر الحسان فى المعانى والبيان

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1276 pages ; 24 centimeters

Last updated: January 16, 2015