Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller

Eric Chaim Kline, Bookseller
Item #48467 Vocabulaire Francais-Arabe, Contenant les Mots Principaux et D'un Usage Plus Journalier (French-Arabic Vocabulary, Containing the Main Words and Those of More Daily Use) [FIRST PRINTED FRENCH-ARABIC DICTIONARY: Cairo during the Napoleonic campagin...1798]. Jean-Joseph Marcel.
Vocabulaire Francais-Arabe, Contenant les Mots Principaux et D'un Usage Plus Journalier (French-Arabic Vocabulary, Containing the Main Words and Those of More Daily Use) [FIRST PRINTED FRENCH-ARABIC DICTIONARY: Cairo during the Napoleonic campagin...1798]
Vocabulaire Francais-Arabe, Contenant les Mots Principaux et D'un Usage Plus Journalier (French-Arabic Vocabulary, Containing the Main Words and Those of More Daily Use) [FIRST PRINTED FRENCH-ARABIC DICTIONARY: Cairo during the Napoleonic campagin...1798]

Vocabulaire Francais-Arabe, Contenant les Mots Principaux et D'un Usage Plus Journalier (French-Arabic Vocabulary, Containing the Main Words and Those of More Daily Use) [FIRST PRINTED FRENCH-ARABIC DICTIONARY: Cairo during the Napoleonic campagin...1798]

Cairo: Imprimerie Nationale, An VII de la Republique [1798]. First edition. Softcover. Duodecimo. 80pp. Housed in a beautiful modern grey leather clamshell box with gilt tooling and lettering on the front cover and spine. In tan wrappers as issued, with title and publication information printed in black lettering on the front. Pages uncut. Published in Cairo in the "Seventh Year of the French Republic" (late 1798), during the time of the French Egyptian Campaign under Napoleon (1798-1801), this work is an extremely scarce pocket-sized French-Arabic dictionary, attributed to Jean-Joseph Marcel (1776-1854). It is likely the earliest individually published French-Arabic dictionary, and most definitely the first dictionary in any language to be printed in the Arab World. It is known to be the rarest and most historically important book printed in Egypt during the years of the French occupation.

The content of the dictionary can be divided into three sections. In the initial introductory section the author describes how to pronounce various Arabic letters and sounds. The second section contains the main dictionary and vocabulary text organized according to subject. The third and final section contains a selection of common phrases and their translations. The final leaf contains errata. There are a few interesting period annotations and additions to the dictionary in ink, from a previous owner, showing its utility at the time.

Even before his arrival in Egypt, Napoleon saw the technology of the printing press as an integral part of his conquest strategy. He established printing capability immediately upon his arrival in Alexandria, and shortly after initiated a branch of the French National printing house (the "Imprimerie Nationale") in Cairo. Not long after taking taking control of Cairo in July 1798, Napoleon called for the printing presses to be sent from Alexandria, under the direct supervision of the expedition's official printer Jean-Joseph Marcel. By October 1798 he was able to start printing, utilizing French, Arabic, and Greek type. During the conquest of Egypt Napoleon brought the technology of the printing press to Egypt for the first time; effecting the history of the traditional Arab World and bringing the tools for the modern dissemination of information and communication.

From the very moment Napoleon arrived in Egypt he utilized the press to propagandize and issue proclamations. The man initially responsible for translating these into Arabic was the French orientalist and linguist Jean-Michel de Venture de Paradis (1739 -1799). However due to Paradise's lack of experience with utilizing the language on a practical daily basis and his unfamiliarity with the local Egyptian dialect and idioms, these first printed Arabic proclamations were rife with linguistic as well as printing errors. As a consequence of these issues, not to mention the cultural and ideological barriers, many of these publications were met with reactions ranging from bafflement and amusement to outrage, and were derided for their poor use of Arabic. As head of the printing press, Jean-Joseph Marcel, who was a colleague and pupil of Venture de Paradis, was well aware of this situation, and immediately expedited the publication of this dictionary. Given the general lack of knowledge of Arabic at the time among French military personnel and "the savants" of Napoleon's scientific expedition, this work was a very useful and necessary tool to communicate with the local population.

There were two previous attempts at a French-Arabic dictionary. In 1697 French orientalist Barthélemy d'Herbelot de Molainville (1625–1695) published his magnum opus "Bibliothèque Orientale" which included a lexicon of Arabic words translated into French. Additionally, the Bibliothèque Nationale du France, houses a manuscript from 1701 includes a French-Arabic vocabulary, titled "Grammaire arabe, en Français, avec un vocabulaire". However neither of these resulted in an individually published work with the distinct purpose of common everyday usage and translation.

Age toning as well as some light chipping and tears to some of the first and last pages. Pages throughout with some sporadic foxing, as well as some damp stains to the to bottom margin of the first pages. Page 5 with a small hole resulting in minor loss of text. Page 31 with a closed tear in the lower margin. Final page chipping results in some very minor loss of text in the upper left corner. In good condition overall. Extremely scarce. Protected by modern mylar. g. Item #48467

* Much of our information on this extremely scarce work is based on the scanned manuscript copy held in the Bibliothèque Nationale du France. Multiple institutions and bibliographies since have attributed the work to Jean-Joseph Marcel (1776-1854) the printer, linguist and engineer. Although the printed edition does not list an author or compiler, the manuscript copy contains "Marcel" handwritten at the bottom of the title page. The manuscript copy also shows various annotations and corrections to the text made by the author. When compared with the manuscript, the printer version incorporates many of these corrections, as well as additional subsequent changes that were made at the time of printing. Jean-Joseph Marcel was part of the group of "savants" and experts accompanying Napoleon's Egypt campaign (1798-1801), was an acclaimed linguist, and was the expedition's official printer. He is credited as being the first person to recognize that the middle text of the Rosetta Stone was not Syriac, but was in fact Egyptian Demotic script. During this period he is known to have released a number of other works on the Arabic language. In 1803, having returned to Paris, he was appointed Director of the Imprimerie Nationale, where he served until 1815. Many years later he published the more well known French-Arabic dictionary, "Dictionnaire Français-Arabe des Dialectes Vulgaires d'Alger, d'Égypte, de Tunis Et de Maroc" (1830).

* The work is extremely scarce. We have found library holdings of complete printed copies at Cambridge, BM Lyon, Oxford (Bodleian Library) and the Qatar National Library. The Bibliothèque Nationale du France also has an incomplete copy of the work in addition to their manuscript.

Bibliographic References: Schnurrer (Bibliotheca Arabica) #141; "Arabic and the Art of Printing", Saudi Aramco World Magazine, 9/11/08; The Printing of Arabic Books in the Arab World (Gutenberg Museum Mainz, 2002); Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East. Palgrave Macmillan (Juan Cole, 2007); Napoleon in Egypt: Al-Jabarti's Chronicle of the French Occupation, 1798 (Shmuel Moreh, 1995).

Price: $27,500.00

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