First steps in writing Arabic narrative fiction: The case of Hcombining dot belowadīqat al-Akhbār

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This study tracks the significant literary activity of the Beirut newspaper Hcombining dot belowadīqat al-Akhbār (1858-1911) in its first ten years. A textual examination of the newspaper reveals that Khalīl al-Khūrī (1836-1907), a central figure of the nahda and the owner of Hcombining dot belowadīqat al-Akhbār, believed that an adoption of a new Western literary genre into the traditional Arabic literary tradition would provide the Arab culture with tools for reviving the Arabic language and create new styles of expression. The textual analysis of numerous narrative fictions that were published in the newspaper demonstrates two significant matters: first, Hcombining dot belowadīqat al-Akhbār was the first Arabic newspaper to publish translations from Western narrative fiction, especially from the French Romance stories. Secondly, it will be shown how Khalīl al-Khūrī constructed a fetal model of Arabic narrative fiction by publishing a fictional narrative of his own, Wayy, idhan lastu bi-ifranjī (Alas, I'm not a foreigner), in 1859-1861. The literary activity in Hcombining dot belowadīqat al-Akhbār, as the following study illustrates, played a substantial role in changing the aesthetic literary taste, and paved the way for the birth of an authentic Arabic narrative fiction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-195
Number of pages26
JournalDie Welt des Islams
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2008


  • Arabic narrative fiction 19 century
  • Arabic newspaper 19 century
  • Arabic novel
  • Hcombining dot belowadīqat al-Akhbār
  • Khalīl al-Khūrī
  • Translation into Arabic 19 century


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