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The first book printed in Egypt

Marcel, [Jean Joseph]. Alphabet arabe, turk et persan, à l'usage de l'imprimerie orientale et française.

Alexandria, Imprimerie orientale et française, an VI [1798].

Small 4to. 16 pp. Modern brown half calf with red label to giltstamped spine, bound to style.

The first book ever printed in Egypt, unquestionably the rarest and most important of the early books printed in the Middle East, published in the very year when modern printing was introduced to the Arab world. Only in October 1798 did J. J. Marcel arrive in Cairo with his employees and types to organize the Imprimerie Orientale. "The expedition of Napoleon Bonaparte to Egypt from 1798 until 1801 was a prelude to modernity. It was to change permanently the traditional Arab world [...] The French brought Arabic typography to Egypt, where it was practised under the supervision [...] of Jean Joseph Marcel [...]. Only a few days after the French troops landed [...] they set up the Imprimerie Orientale et Française there. It was an extraordinarily important turning point. For, leaving aside the Hebrew printing presses in Egypt of the 16th to the 18th centuries, until this date announcements and news adressed to Arabs there, as well as in other parts of the Arab-Islamic world, had been spread only in hand-writing or orally, by criers, preachers or storytellers" (Glass/Roper).

Slightly spotty in places, but well preserved. No copy in auction records or in libraries within the Arab world.

Geiss, Imprimerie en Égypte, p. 146, no. 1. D. Glass/G. Roper, The Printing of Arabic Books in the Arab World, in: Middle Eastern Languages and the Print Revolution (Gutenberg Museum Mainz 2002), p. 177-225, at 182. Querard V, 506. Bigmore/Wyman, II, 22. Schnurrer (Bibliotheca Arabica) 140 note. OCLC 245958561. For the importance of the first modern printing press in the Arab world cf. also Albert Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age 1798-1939 (Cambridge University Press 1983).