Ahlan Arabic lovers! Today, I am going to tell you about a famous Egyptian figure. Kamel Keilani كــامــِــل كــيــلانــِــي was an eminent figure of modern Arabic literature الأدَب whose marvelous works left a mark in the literary history and qualified him to be “the pioneer of child literature رائــِــد أدب الــطــِّــفــْــل“.
Kamel Keilani Via http://gomhuriaonline.com/
Kamel Keilani was born on the 20th of October, 1897 in Al-Qal’ah الــقــلــعــة , a popular quarter of Cairo, near Muqat’tum Mountain جــَــبــَــل الــمــُــقــَــطــَّــم . He grew up in an era that was famous for legendary أُســْــطــُــوري stories and songs. He was used to spend most of his time alone and that early solitude عــُــزلــَـــة gave him the opportunity to read, assimilate and memorize more than 20 thousand verses of Arabic poetry. Keilani also memorized the Holy Qur’an at the Kut’tab الــكــُــتـــَّـــابْ (pre-school religious classes).
Shahrzad Bint Al-Wazeer
Later on, Keilani joined the primary and then secondary education to finally obtain the high school certificate شــِــهــَـــادَة . He immersed himself in studying English literature and memorizing English poetry. He studied French as well. Then, he joined the old Egyptian University where he distinguished himself as an excellent student. He planned to study Arabic, English and French literatures and decided at the same time to join the school of Dante Alighieri to study Italian literature. He was the schoolmate of prominent Egyptian men of letters such as Zaki Mubarak زكــِــي مــُــبــَــارَك , Abdel-Wahab Azzam عــبــد الــوهــَــاب عــَــزَّام , Hassan Ibrahim حــَــســَــنْ إبــْــراهــِــيــم and others.
Um Sind and Um Hind
Keilani worked as teacher of English and translation at a preparatory school. Then, he worked at the Ministry of Awqaf وزارة الأوْقــَـــاف (Islamic endowments) to finally assume the post of “Secretary of the Higher Awqaf Council in 1954. Meanwhile, he worked in journalism الــصــَّــحــَــافــَـــة and art الــفــَــن . He assumed the post of Chairman of Modern Actors’ Club in 1918, then Editor-in-chief of El-Ragaa الــرَّجــَـــاء newspaper that was founded in 1922. He became Secretary of the Arabic Literature Society ســِــكــِــرتــيــر مــَــجــْــمــَــع الأدب الــعــَــربــِــي from 1922 to 1932.
Gulliver in the Land of Giants
Keilani was influenced by his uncle who fostered him while he was young and was a rich source مــَــصــْــدَر of tales الــقــِــصــَــصْ and a good narrator. Keilani wrote his first story of the kind; “Sindbad, the Sailor ســِــنــْــدبــَــاد الــبــَــحــَّـــار” in 1927. It was followed by more books. With the outbreak of the Egyptian Revolution in 1952, Keilani composed new enthusiastic poetry, giving proof of his sincere patriotism وَطــَــنــِــيــَّـــة .
In 1929, Keilani gave much of his time and effort to child literature أدب الــطــِــفــْــل and started to establish what he dreamt for for children; The Child Library مــَــكــْــتــَــبــَـــة الــطــِّــفــْـــل . He wrote so many child stories and most of which were originated from classical legends, international and national literature. Thanks to his great efforts, many stories by famous Arab writers were published and widely known. He used Modern Standard Arabic (Fus’ha) for all his child stories and was much keen on the ethical side الــجــَــانــِــب الأخــْــلاقــِــي . He wrote more than 250 child stories like: “Shahr’zad شــَـــهــْــرزاد“, “Ju’ha جــُــحــَــا“, “One Thousand Nights ألــْــف لــَــيــْــلــَـــة” and “The carpenter King الــمــَــلــِــك الــنــَّــجــَّـــار“. His stories were translated into Chinese, Russian, Spanish, English and French. Keilani also was the first to talk to children across the radio.
Keilani faced all sorts of obstacles عــَــقــَــبــَـــات , but he paved the way for the establishment تــَـــأســِــيــس of child literature. He was honored by the State and appreciated by writers and prominent figures of letters from Arab and Oriental countries. Kamel Keilani died on October, 10th 1959 leaving behind a valuable heritage تــُـــراث of publications on Arabic literature in general and children’s literature in particular.
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Peace ســَـــلام /Salam/