About Jurji Zaidan

Introductory Summary

The Conquest of Andalusia | The Battle of Poitiers | The Caliph's Sister

The Caliph's Heirs | Saladin and the Assassins

About the Novel | The Historical Context | The Translator | Afterword | Study Guide

About the Translator

Professor Michael Cooperson translated this novel. He is Professor of Arabic language and literature, Near Eastern Languages and Culture at the University of California, Los Angeles and a noted scholar and specialist of the cultural history of the early ‘Abbasid period. Professor Cooperson is a graduate of Harvard University and of the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) at the American University in Cairo. His publications include Classical Arabic Biography (2000)and Al Ma’mun (2005).  He has translated Abdelfattah Kilito’s L’Auteur et ses Doubles (The Author and His Doubles, 2001) and Khairy Shalaby’s Rihalat al-Turshagi al-Halwagi (The Time Travels of the Man Who Sold Pickles and Sweets, 2010). He is co-author, with the RRAALL group, of Interpreting the Self: Autobiography in the Arabic literary tradition (2001); and co-editor, with Shawkat Toorawa, of The Dictionary of Literary Biography: Arabic Literary Culture, 500-915 (2005).

In his Afterword, Professor Cooperson, a specialist of the ‘Abbasid period comments on the treatment of history in Zaidan’s novels in the light of new knowledge and interpretations of that period as viewed by modern historians. He also wrote a Study Guide for students.



Opera on the Life of Jurji Zaidan
(in Arabic) attended by the
President of Egypt

Prelude with Speeches of Literary Figures


Jurji Zaidan and his Family

Centennial Celebrations
of Dar-al-Hilal