Qustaki al-Himsi

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Qustaki al-Himsi
Qestaki al-Homsi.jpg
Born 4 February 1858
Aleppo, Ottoman Syria
Died 9 March 1941
Aleppo, Syria
Occupation Poet, writer, critic
Nationality Syrian
Ethnicity Syrian Christian
Genres Poetry, novel, essay
Literary movement Nahda
Notable work(s) The researcher's source in the science of criticism
The mirror of souls

Qustaki al-Himsi (Arabic: قسطاكي الحمصي / ALA-LC: Qusṭākī al-Ḥimṣī; 1858 – 1941) was a Syrian writer and poet of the Nahda movement (the Arabic renaissance), a prominent figure in the Arabic literature of the 19th and 20th centuries and one of the first reformers of the traditional Arabic poetry.[1] With his book The researcher's source in the science of criticism, al-Himsi is considered to be the founder of modern literary criticism among the Arab scholars.[2][3]

Life[edit]

Qustaki al-Himsi was born on 4 February 1858 in Aleppo. The origin of his family is from the al-Mashrouqi family of the Syrian city of Homs. Al-Himsi's ancestors have migrated to Aleppo during the first half of the 16th century and embraced the al-Himsi surname. Al-Himsi lost his father when he was 15 years old. He was raised by his mother Sousan Dallal in a highly educated community. His uncle; the prominent writer Gebrail Dallal (Arabic: جبرائيل دلال‎) had a great influence on him, motivating his love towards the Arabic literature and poetry. He received his preliminary education in the Roman Catholic school of Aleppo. Later, he studied Arabic and French literature in the "Terre-Sainte College" of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in Al-Shibani Church, Aleppo.

Al-Himsi became a wealthy and successful tradesman, visiting Marseille and Paris and other French cities for several occasions. He mastered the French language during his long stays in France. He left his commercial activities in 1905. After the 1908 revolution in the Ottoman Empire, he was elected as a member of the Aleppo city council for many times and once as the assistant of the head of the council.[4]

The cultural knowledge and wealth of al-Himsi was prompted through his vast collection of Arabic and European books and publications, as well as his great love of reading the works of the elite European poets. He was known as the Voyager Poet due to his frequent visits to France, England, Italy, Egypt, Beirut and Constantinople.

In 1922, he was appointed member of the Scientific Academy in Damascus.

Despite of his great love for travel, al-Himsi lived and worked in Aleppo throughout his life until his death in 1941.

Works[edit]

  • The enchantment of ad-Dallal's poetry (Arabic: السحر الحلال في شعر الدلالAs-Sihr al-halal fi shi'r ad-Dallal), 1903, Cairo.
  • The researcher's source in the science of criticism (Arabic: منهل الورّاد في علم الانتقادManhal al-warrad fi elm al-intiqad), vol. 1 and 2, 1907, Cairo, vol. 3, 1935, Aleppo.
  • Prominent scholars of Aleppo in the nineteenth century (Arabic: أدباء حلب ذوو الأثر في القرن التاسع عشرUdabaa Halab zawu al-athar fi al-qarn at-tase' ashar), 1925, Aleppo.
  • The mirror of souls (Arabic: مرآة النفوسMiraat an-nufus), 1935, Aleppo.

Al-Himsi left valuable pieces of poetry, some of them were published in 1907 in Alexandria, under the name "Songs from the Old Testament" (Arabic: أناشيد من العهد القديمAnashid min al-Ahd al-Qadim). Another book; "Selection from the poems of Qustaki al-Himsi" (Arabic: مختارات من نظم قسطاكي الحمصيMukhtarat min nozom Qustaki al-Himsi) was published in 1939, in Aleppo.

Al-Himsi had also translated many works from the French literature to Arabic language.

Unfortunately, the full collection of his poems remain unpublished.

Honours[edit]

The statue of Qustaki al-Himsi in Aleppo

Qustaki al-Himsi was honoured in his native city of Aleppo by renaming a street at the centre of the city after him. His statue was erected in 1971 at the centre of the Liberty Square of Aziziyah district in Aleppo.[5]

The home of Qustaki al-Himsi in Aleppo was turned into a house-museum by the efforts of his grandson.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]