From Syria to France… How was the legendary Aladdin tale formed between Aleppo and the Palace of Versailles?

The tales of “One Thousand and One Nights” such as “Aladdin”, “The Magic Lamp”, “Ali Baba”, “The Forty Thieves” and “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sea” go back to a heritage mixture of the ancient and medieval centuries, which in turn returns to a historical, tragic, comedic and legendary legacy For the Arab, Persian, Indian, Egyptian, Mesopotamian and other peoples.

The Aladdin tale takes place in the capital of one of the vast and prosperous Chinese kingdoms, but according to the translator who transmitted the story into English, the Syrian roots of Aladdin’s adventure make it a precious artifact from this war-ravaged country.

Antoine Ghalan and Hanna Diab

Writer Richard Lea says in the report Which was published by the British newspaper “The Guardian”, that the Syrian-French translator Yasmine Sell is the first woman to do a complete translation of the book “One Thousand and One Nights” from its French and Arabic sources.

The writer points out that the story of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp was first published in 1712, in the book One Thousand and One Nights by the French writer Antoine Galland, and its events revolve around the richness and beauty of the fascinating world, which for centuries made researchers wonder about whether this French orientalist actually invented This anecdote himself.

For a long time, researchers believed that the Arabic stories told by Galan came from the East, but recently information has emerged confirming that a Maronite Syrian traveler and writer named Hanna Diab, Galan mentions him as the source of the story of Aladdin and also the story of Ali Baba.

Yasmine Seal believes that this discovery means that the story of Aladdin is an Aleppo product, coming from this city, which was at the time part of the Ottoman Empire, characterized by richness and cultural, social and scientific prosperity, as it was a major trade route and a meeting center for various peoples.

For researcher Paulo Lemos-Horta, who completed a study entitled “The Wonderful Thieves”, in which he examined the convergence of civilizations that resulted in the Thousand and One Nights, “Hanna Diab’s contribution reflects not only the Syrian heritage that he carried with him, but also his great fascination with the French court. The Syrian traveler met Antoine Gallan in 1907 after he roamed the Mediterranean with a French collector.

Diab in Paris

Horta adds that “Hanna Diab told these stories to Galland at the end of his trip, which was aimed at searching for treasures and which was distinguished by his visit to the court of the French King Louis XIV.”

Diab, in one of his writings, narrates the greatness of the French king and the aura surrounding him, and was greatly influenced by the clothes of the residents of Versailles Palace, and the architectural style that characterized the palace.

Researcher Robert Irwin also confirms that the recent discoveries have dispelled all doubts about the role of Hanna Diab in formulating and telling the story of Aladdin, especially after the discovery of a similar story in Arabic written before the appearance of Galland’s author.

French orientalist and archaeologist Antoine Galland traveled to the Levant and translated “Arabian Nights” (communication sites)

“What Hanna Diab told was essentially a traditional Arab story,” says Irwin. “But it is clear that Galland or Diab, or perhaps both, Frenchized this story in every possible way by Frenchizing the dialogue, the architectural style, the rituals, the court, and so on.”

Irwin adds that “the mention of the word China symbolizes a very distant palace and a fictional tale, but this story appeared entirely in an Arab region. Galland or perhaps Thieb added to it more details related to the psychological aspect, motives and dialogues between the heroes, with more accuracy than what Arab storytellers are accustomed to.” .

Aladdin translation

However, Yasmine Seal confirms that this information and developments did not have a significant impact on its translation, given that the only text available about the story of Aladdin belongs to Antoine Galland, who she worked on. But knowing the roots of this tale makes it a document of cultural exchange, translation on several levels, and a production of Arabic and French literature.

“What really matters to me is not whether this story was invented by a French or Syrian man, but rather what these details reflect about that time period, as the French and Syrian men came from two cities that represented a beacon of convergence of civilizations,” says Yasmine.

Today, 300 years after Antoine Galland first published this story, Jasmine Seal believes that Aladdin’s adventure raises questions that remain and important to this day, revolving around the relationship between father and son, the moral side of get-rich-quick, and the duality of seduction and contentment.

But perhaps the secret of the continued success of this story lies not only in the cultural diversity that it carries within it, but also in its events that narrate the radical change in the life of Aladdin, who was an ordinary boy, then went through amazing experiences and transformations, and in fact everyone loves such transformations. .

From Aleppo to Paris

In contrast to what the French orientalist Antoine Galland mentioned in his diaries and his role in “One Thousand and One Nights,” Diab also wrote a long text in 1766 in which he narrated the details of his travels to Paris between 1708 and 1710.

d'alep a paris cover bookWhat distinguishes the text “From Aleppo to Paris” is that its owner is an ordinary traveler who did not practice the rules of travel literature prevailing in his time (communication sites)

It should be noted that this text remained unknown until the French researcher Jerome Lantin discovered his only manuscript in the Vatican Library in 1993. Due to its literary and historical value, Lantin collaborated with Paul Fahmy Thierry and Bernard Heberge for many years to transfer it to French, before this translation was issued by Dar Parisian “Act Sud” entitled “From Aleppo to Paris”.

It is not surprising that this text belongs to the travel literature that was practiced in Syria in the 17th and 18th centuries, especially by Christians, as evidenced by the text of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Makarios al-Zaim about his travels to Georgia, or the text of his son Paul about his father’s travels to Moscow, or The Iraqi priest Elias Al-Mawsili texted about his long stay in America, according to a previous report by Al-Jazeera Net.

But what distinguishes the text “From Aleppo to Paris” from these and other texts is that its author is an ordinary person who did not have any ambition in practicing this literary genre and respecting its features. Paris Gold.” Diab did not seek to enrich his text with abundant cultural references or quotes and poetic verses, nor did he seek to write in an elegant literary style, but used a language that is a mixture of classical and the language spoken in Aleppo, his birthplace.

What also distinguishes Diab from those previously mentioned is that he did not undertake his journey to perform a mission, as is the case with Tahtawi and Muhammad Effendi, or with the aim of investigating “Christian countries”, as is the case of Al-Mawsili, Al-Zaim and a large number of Eastern priests. His travel is a kind of journey for a young man. He was looking for his way, and his text is written as a reflection on the life that gave him in his youth various opportunities that he did not know or did not want to seize.

In this context, Diab begins his text by recounting the experience of a novice monk in a monastery in Mount Lebanon who will soon return to Aleppo after doubting his calling. When he fails to find work and decides to return to the monastery, he meets the French traveler Paul Luca, who is taken by an assistant on a journey that leads them to Beirut and Sidon, then to Cyprus, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, before crossing the Mediterranean and moving between Livorn, Genoa, Marseille and Paris.

As for the return trip, it will take place without Luca, during which Diab stops in Marseille, Izmir and Istanbul, where he stays for a long time, before crossing Anatolia with a convoy in the direction of Aleppo.

More culture

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.