DURR al-BUHUR (in Arabic).
Reviewed by Hisham Khatib

DURR al-BUHUR (in Arabic), by John Lewis Burckhardt (1810)
Compiled with notes by Prof. Eid Abdallah Dahiyat (2010).  ISBN 978–9953–36–378–1. 135 pp

We are well aware that Burckhardt authored five books on the Holy Land, Egypt and Arabia, all were in English. But a new Burckhardt book has surfaced recently and in Arabic. Originally it is a manuscript book written by Burckhardt under the name of Durr al-Buhur (Jewels of the Seas): the Story of Yusef Robinson – the Life of Sharief Robinson Crusoe. It is basically a story written in Arabic and based on the well know Daniel Defoe’s (1719) novel. This work was totally unknown until it was recently compiled and published by Prof. Dahiyat utilizing a photo-copy of the original manuscript which he found in the library of the University of Jordan.

A note accompanied the manuscript written by the hand of George Cecil Renouard which explains the background of this work. It says:

“This work was composed as an exercise in the Arabic language by John Lewis Burckhardt during his residence at Aleppo in 1810. Three copies of it were sent by him to his friends, under the care of Mr. Fiott of St John’s College, Cambridge (now Dr. Lee of Doctor’s Commons and Hartwell House) who had been his traveling companion in Syria. Of these copies one is now in Dr. Lee’s possession, the second was delivered to the R. [ight] H. [onourable] Sir Joseph Banks, and the third (which is this book) was brought by Mr. Fiott to Smyrna in 1812, where by J. L. Burckhardt’s direction, it was delivered to his faithful friend George Cecil Renouard, Chaplain to the British Factory at that place.

Rectory, Swanscombe
5 April 1838
G.C.R [enouard]”

It is this third manuscript copy which was acquired by Yale University in 1945, and made available for scholars.
Prof. Dahiyat researched the contrast between the two works and why Burckhardt chose Robinson Crusoe for his translator’s work, into Arabic.
(The book in Arabic can be obtained from the publishers, email: info@airpbooks.com).

Hisham Khatib