Alpheios Texts
The Autobiography Of The Constantinopolitan Story-Teller, TEI XML
دع المقادير تجري في اعِنتها
ولا تباتنَّ الاَّ خال البال
ما بين رقدة عين وانت غافلها
يغيّر ربك من حالٍ الى حالِ
Let destiny run with slackened reins and be not in
Pass not thy nights, but with careless mind and in rest,
Be sure that while thou art taking in bed a little rest,
Thy Lord in heaven is changing thy lot for the best.
لاَ يَكُونُ الحَكِيمُ حَكِيماً
حَتَّى يَغْلِبَ جَمِيعَ شَهْوَاتِةِ
Le sage ne sera point sage jusqu'à ce qu'il dompte
toutes ses passions!
A man will never become a wise man until he can
rule his own passions!
This beautiful Arabic Romance, which ought to be
translated into English, may be called the Eastern
Gil Blas, or the New Sindebad el Bahri, the famous
traveller of the Arabian Nights.
The hero, born in Constantinople, receives a good
education under the careful superintendence of a
Turkish nobleman, who adopts him, and afterwards
presents him to the Sultan, by whom he is treated
with all kindness.
Upon the death of the Sultan, he loses all in-
fluence at Court, and is banished by his successor,
instigated by the intrigues and jealousy of the
Grand Wezier.
He becomes pirate, merchant, agent, slave, shepherd,
derwish, captive; in every situation giving
proof of a true nobility of mind, and a firm trust in
Thus he is sometimes raised to the summit of
prosperity, and sometimes reduced to the most abject
misery, like Gil Blas, experiencing all the vicissitudes
of human conditions, with this difference, that Le
Sage describes the domestic and social habits of the
West, whilst our author renders with the most consummate
skill the many nuances that blend to form
an accurate picture of Life in the East.
Our adventurer, like Sindebad el Bahri, is a
wanderer in many lands, visiting most parts of Asia
and Africa, the author with careful touches giving
the most vivid description of the different countries
and cities of those continents, and bringing before
the eyes of the reader the manners and customs of
the inhabitants with a rare fidelity.
Besides narrating his own adventures, our hero
relates many other strange and amusing tales incidentally,
giving proof of an imagination of unbounded
fertility, and inexhaustible powers pf invention.
The variety and interesting nature of these episodes
greatly increase the beauty of the romance, and
render the work more valuable in every respect.
The author has selected for his style the conversational
Arabic which prevails over the greater
portion of the East, so that this romance will be
recited in all the cafés in those immense countries,
in which its graphic descriptions and vivid imagery
will recommend it to a population so attached to
those qualities.
I have no doubt that this work will not only
furnish immense gratification to Arabic scholars in
Europe, but will also prove most useful from its easy
and fluent style to those who are anxious to study
the Arabic language as now used in the Arabic-speaking
countries of Asia and Africa.
As for those sentences which may seem to the
foreign reader imperfectly or ungrammatically constructed,
they have been left as they were written
by the author, perhaps on purpose to copy popular
expression, since they have their own merit, being
generally admitted in modern common conversation,
which the reader cannot find in the classical authors,
but to which even the learned must conform, to make
themselves understood. Hence the learned Arabic
scholars have the following maxim:
غلط مشهور خير من صوابٍ مهجور
“A common mistake admitted by general use is
preferable to grammatical correctness, which, become
obsolete, cannot be understood.”
This romance is therefore certain to be appreciated
by every person who is interested in the perusal of
works of imagination of the kind of the Arabian
Nights, to which this Autobiography is perhaps in
many respects superior, and more particularly in
that the Wonderful is always subordinated to the
London, June, 1877.