Introduction: Journals

Sanua published the first issue of his Abou Naddara series in Cairo, on March 25, 1878, [1]  under the title Abū Naẓẓāra Zarqāʾ.[2] The two months of its publishing were also the last ones during which Sanua was able to work as a satirical journalist in his home country. The major part of Sanua’s publications were therefore issued in Paris during the thirty-two years of his active life as a writer.

Sanua produced twelve visually experimental newspaper-series in the period between 1878 and 1885. Starting from 1885, the structure, name and layout of the Abou Naddara series became more stable. There are different reasons for shifts in titles and layouts during the initial seven years.

Firstly, Sanua himself had to become acquainted with the new techniques of lithography which he was able to explore in the Parisian printing shops. In the first newspaper produced in exile, which Sanua presented as a personal travelogue –Riḥlat Abī Naẓẓāra Zarqā min Miṣr al-Qāhira ilā Bārīs al-Fakhira-, he therefore introduced simple caricatures and drawings. These illustrations became more sophisticated in the second newspaper-series of the year 1879 called Abū Naẓẓāra Zarqā. Sanua, most probably starting from that moment, hired a professional drawing artist.

The Egyptian journalist in exile also experimented in style and literary genres before his articles were shaped more and more according to the standards of  the French satirical press of the same period. At the same time as his caricatures became more elaborate, Sanua started to introduce descriptive French translations to the texts linked to the drawings. Already the collected thirty numbers of his travelogue were provided with an epilogue which included a list of the illustrations, each with a short explanation in French. However, apart from these short elucidating translations of the drawings, Sanua’s journals became plainly bilingual at the same time as the title Abou Naddara and the layout were settled in 1885. One great exception to this are the two issues of The Egyptian Patriot –written in English- which Sanua designed in 1883 in order to make the British occupiers become aware of the danger emanating from the Egyptian intellectuals’ opposition to their politics.

The second reason why Sanua did not stick to the layout and title of his journals right from the beginning is that he had to circumvent the khedivial press censorship which, especially in the year 1880, under Riyāḍ’s Prime Ministry, made it extremely difficult for him to have the magazines smuggled into the country. At the same time, Sanua recorded that his readers faced severe punishment whenever they were caught with his subversive, satirical writings. Therefore Abū Naẓẓāra (the man with the glasses) on 4th June 1880 suddenly appeared as Abū Ṣuffāra (the flute-player) and afterwards, only five weeks later, turned into Abū Zammāra (the clarinet-player). By the end of the same year Sanua self-ironically recognized his talent as a transforming-artist and newly introduced his alter-ego character –who usually provided the name for his magazines- as a charmer (al-Ḥāwī). After this phase of extreme changeability, in April 1881, Abou Naddara was given its French name which –apart from minor variations- was kept by until 1910.

Starting from 1885, Sanua usually published a collected volume by the end of each year and added two additional covers, one in French and one in Arabic. The biggest of these kinds of collections is the one which unites the newspapers published from 1901 until 1906.

In 1888, Sanua started an additional monthly journal with the name at-Tawwaddud, translated into French with Sympathisons (let’s corroborate),[3] which was clearly intended to make people in Egypt gain more insight into European politics. Already during the foundational year, the cover displayed a short summary of the Arabic content in French which became more extensive over time. Unfortunately, the originals of the four collected volumes of L’Attawadod published between 1894 and 1897 vanished. No reprints were made of these journals and the only way to access the texts are by consulting the microfilms in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. This is the reason why they cannot be found on this website.

Another newspaper was established by Sanua in 1899. It was published bilingually (Arabic and French) right from the beginning and included into the yearly collected volumes next to L’Attawadod and Abou Naddara. Its title was L’Almonsef (L’Equitable) and its proclaimed aim was to judge the enemies and the friends of the Eastern people righteously.[4] As much as the texts and drawings of L’Attawadod, the content of this new journal was not meant to be satirical.

Sanua started one last, entirely French magazine called L’Univers Musulman in 1907. This journal was printed on pink pages and photographs were added to the drawn lithographs. The opening poem solemnly proclaims the goal of the publication in a prayer-like format.[5] The journal aimed to explain Islamic culture to its French readership in order to make them lose their fear and prejudice towards this religion. Christians and Muslims were encouraged to collaborate in an understanding, peaceful and constructive way.

[1] The date printed on the first cover-page of Sanua’s abū naẓẓāra zarqā is: 21 / 3 / 1295. Blanchard Jerrold suggests 1st April 1878 as the day when Sanua’s first newspaper was launched. Jacob Landau and Irene Gendzier indicate 21st March 1877 as its date of issue. They wrongly copied it from dī Ṭarrāzī who takes up that date and enlists abū naẓẓāra zarqā as the sixth newspaper published in Cairo. (After al-waqāʾiʿ al-miṣrīya (3rd of December 1828), wādī an-nīl (1855), nuzhat al-afkār (1869), ḥadīqat al-abṣār (1875) and ḥaqīqat al-akhbār (1877).) Vid.: Jerrold, B., Egypt under Ismail Pacha, Samuel Tinsley and Co., London, 1879, p. 218; Gendzier, I. L., The Practical Visions of Yaʿqub Sanuʿ, Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University Press, Cambridge and Massachusetts, 1966, p. 60; Landau, J. M., Middle Eastern Themes, Papers in History and Politics, Clarke, Doble and Berndon Ltd, Plymouth, 1973, p. 175, Dī Ṭarrāzī, F, tārīkh aṣ-ṣiḥāfa l-ʿarabīya, al-maṭbaʿa l-adabīya, vol. 1 and 2, bayrūt, 1913, p. 163.

[2] Abū Naẓẓāra Zarqāʾ, nr.1, 25 March 1878, p.1.

[3] In the first year, the direction of the journal is attributed to a certain M. Jacques Cattaui with Sanua as the chief redactor, before the latter took over complete responsibility. Vid.:A’ttawadod, nr.1, 15 January, 1888, p.1.

[4] L’Almonsef d’Abou Naddara, nr. 1, 15 February 1899, p.1.

[5] L’Univers Musulman, nr.1, 15 February 1907, p.1.