(European impressions of Syro-Lebanese travellers at the dawn of the 20th century)
in La rivista di Arablit, a. VI, n. 11, giugno 2016, pp. 5-19.
This article examines the travel memoirs of Nasīm Ḫallāṭ and Yūsuf Sarkīs, two Lebanese intellectuals, who visited Europe respectively in 1900 and 1903. They gathered their experiences in two books, which were met with great success at the time of publication and were reviewed by the major cultural magazines in Lebanon and Egypt. Similarly to other travel memoirs by Arab travellers published during the nineteenth century and up to the early twentieth century, Ḫallāṭ’s and Sarkīs’s provide a realistic, almost scientific, representation of the societies with which they came into contact. Their observations and descriptions of the Western world were intended to transmit to the Arabic readership the knowledge of European civilization, particularly of its economic and political order. However, Ḫallāṭ and Sarkīs also represented an exception, because unlike other Arab travellers, they possessed a strong interest in Europe’s artistic and monumental heritage, which is manifest in their accurate descriptions of the major sites of European Christianity, and primarily the Vatican.
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