When Hanna Met Antoine: A Syrian Storyteller in 18th-Century Paris
On March 25, 1709, the first European translator of The 1,001 Nights, Antoine Galland, visited the home of Paul Lucas, a fellow orientalist who'd recently arrived in Paris from a voyage to the Middle East. Returning to France with Lucas was a young Syrian man named Hanna Diyab, who, upon Galland's request, happily supplied him with several stories to incorporate into his translation of The 1,001 Nights. Thus began the remarkable acquaintance between Galland and Diyab, which would eventually lead to the creation of many classic stories, including The Tale of Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp and The Tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. What began as a happy collaboration, however, eventually soured into estrangement and deceit, at least as far as Diyab was concerned. This talk will shed some light on the end of the affair, placing it in the context of 18th-century French academic politicking.
Elias Muhanna is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Comparative Literature and History at Brown University. His most recent publication is a translation of Hanna Diyab's memoir, The Book of Travels, for the Library of Arabic Literature.
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