Hanna Diyab

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Youhenna Diab)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Hanna Diyab
Antun Yusuf Hanna Diyab

c. 1688 (1688)
Diedafter 1763
Other namesYouhenna Diab
  • Writer
  • storyteller
  • cloth merchant
Notable work
D'Alep à Paris: Les pérégrinations d'un jeune syrien au temps de Louis XIV

Antun Yusuf Hanna Diyab (Arabic: اَنْطون يوسُف حَنّا دِياب‎, romanizedAnṭūn Yūsuf Ḥannā Diyāb; born circa 1688) was a Syrian Maronite writer and storyteller.[1][2][3] He is the origin of the famous tales of Aladdin and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves in the One Thousand and One Nights translated by Antoine Galland.

He was long known only from brief mentions in the diary of Antoine Galland, but the translation and publication of his manuscript autobiography in 2015 dramatically expanded knowledge about his life. Recent reassessments of Diyab's contribution to Les mille et une nuits, Galland's hugely influential version of the Arabic One Thousand and One Nights, have argued that his artistry is central to the literary history of such famous tales as Aladdin and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, despite Diyab never being named in Galland's publications.[2]

Ruth B. Bottigheimer[4] and Paulo Lemos Horta have argued that Diyab should be understood as the original author of some of the stories he supplied, and even that several of Diyab's stories (including Aladdin) were partly inspired by Diyab's own life, as there are parallels with his autobiography.[5][6][3]



Most of what is known about Diyab's life comes from his autobiography, which he composed in 1763, at an age of around 75. It survives as Vatican Library MS Sbath 254 (though the first few pages are missing) and its lively narrative has been described as picaresque,[1] and a valuable example of the colloquial, eighteenth-century Middle Arabic of Aleppo, influenced by Aramaic and Turkish.[7] Focusing on his travels from 1707-1710, it provides an outsider's view of Paris in 1708-1709 as well as extensive glimpses into other aspects of Diyab's world, though it may not only reflect Diyab's eye-witness experiences, but also his literary knowledge of the places and cultures he encountered, and his identity as a raconteur.[8]

Other details of Diyab's life are known from the diaries of Antoine Galland, Diyab's marriage contract of 1717, and an Aleppo census of 1740.[9]

Early life in Syria and journey to France[edit]

Diyab was born to a Maronite Christian family in Aleppo, Ottoman Syria, around 1688 and lost his father while still in his teens. Working as a young man for French merchants in Syria, Diyab learned French and Italian; according to Galland, he also had a knowledge of Provençal and Turkish; it is also possible that, as a Maronite, he knew some Syriac.

Diyab briefly joined a Maronite monastery on Mount Lebanon as a novice, but left. As he proceeded home, around the beginning of 1707, he met the Frenchman Paul Lucas, who was on an expedition in search of antiquities on behalf of Louis XIV of France. Lucas invited Diyab to return with him to France, working as a servant, assistant and interpreter, suggesting that he might find work at the Royal Library in Paris.

Leaving Aleppo in February 1707, they visited Tripoli, Sidon, Beirut, Cyprus, then to Egypt, from where they traveled to Libya, then Tunisia. From there he went to Corsica, Livorno, Genoa and Marseille, before reaching Paris early in 1708, where his stay culminated with his reception at Versailles in the apartments of Louis XIV. Diyab was received with some excitement in Paris, partly because Lucas had him wear national dress and carry a cage containing two jerboas from Tunisia. He met the King at Versailles. However, he tired of seeking preferment and returned to Aleppo in 1710.[2][1][8][10]

Telling stories to Galland[edit]

While in Paris, Diyab first met the Orientalist Antoine Galland on Sunday, March 17, 1709. Galland's diary contains extended summaries of stories told by Diyab on March 25. Galland recorded more stories, apparently from oral telling, throughout May and into June that year. He went on to include these works as a continuation of his French translation of an incomplete Arabic manuscript of the Thousand and One Nights, and they include some of the stories that became the most popular and closely associated with the Thousand and One Nights in later world literature.[11] It seems likely that Diyab told these stories in French.[12][13] Diyab's autobiography represents Lucas as having miraculous medical capabilities, but Diyab enjoyed less acknowledgement from his French associates: he received no credit in Galland's published work, nor any mention in the writing of Lucas.[8] According to the autobiography, Galland was afraid that Diyab would gain a position at the Royal Library that he desired for himself and Galland conspired to send Diyab back to Aleppo.[14][15]

Later life[edit]

After his return to Aleppo in 1710, Diyāb became a successful cloth merchant with the help of his brother Abdallah. He married in 1717 and had extensive progeny. By 1740, he lived in one of the community's largest households, alongside his mother and two elder brothers.[1][8][9]

As well as writing his autobiography in 1763, Diyab seems to have copied (or at least owned) another manuscript, Vatican Library, Sbath 108, containing Arabic translations of the Sefaretname travelogue by Ilyas ibn Hanna al-Mawsili concerning his own travels, Ilyas's history of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, and an account by the Ottoman ambassador Yirmisekizzade Mehmed Said Pasha of his 1719 embassy to France.[16]

Stories told by Diyab[edit]

As tabulated by Ulrich Marzolph, the tales told by Diyab to Galland, most of which appeared in Galland's Les mille et une nuits, were:[17]

Date (in 1709) Title ATU tale type Number in Galland Number in Chauvin[18]
March 25 'several very beautiful Arabic tales'
May 5 Aladdin 561 Vol. 9.2 No. 19
May 6 Qamar al-dīn and Badr al-Budūr 888
May 10 The Caliph’s Night Adventures Frame tale, containing the following three Vol. 10.1 No. 209
Blind Man Bābā ʿAbdallāh 836F* Vol. 10.2 No. 725
Sīdī Nuʿmān 449 Vol. 10.3 No. 371
Alī al-Zaybaq Short mention only
May 13 The Ebony Horse 575 Vol. 11.3 No. 130
May 15 The Golden City 306
May 22 Prince Ahmed and the Fairy Perī-Bānū 653A+465 Vol. 12.1 No. 286
May 23 The Sultan of Samarkand and His Three Sons 550+301 No. 181
May 25 The Two Sisters Who Envied Their Cadette 707 Vol. 12.2 No. 375
May 27 The Ten Viziers 875D* No. 48
May 27 Ali Baba 676+954 Vol. 11.1 No. 241
May 29 Khawājā Hasan al-Habbāl 945A* Vol. 10.4 No. 202
May 29 Alī Khawājā and the Merchant of Bagdad 1617 Vol. 11.2 No. 26
May 31 The Purse, the Dervish’s Horn, the Figs, and the Horns 566
June 2 Hasan the Seller of Herbal Tea

Though usually corresponding to widespread international tale-types and both presented by Galland and often still imagined today as traditional Arabic folk-tales, it is likely that Diyab's repertoire and narrative style reflects his education and literary reading, multilingualism, and extensive travels within and beyond the Arab world.[11][12]


  • Dyâb, Hanna, D’Alep à Paris: Les pérégrinations d’un jeune syrien au temps de Louis XIV, ed. and trans. by Paule Fahmé-Thiéry, Bernard Heyberger, and Jérôme Lentin (Paris: Sindbad, 2015) [autobiography in French translation].
  • Dyâb, Hanna, Min Halab ila Baris: Rihla ila Bilat Luwis Arrabi' 'Ashir, edited by Mamede Jarouche and Safa A.-C. Jubran (Beirut/Baghdad: Al-Jamal, 2017) [critical edition in Arabic]
  • Ulrich Marzolph and Anne E. Duggan, 'Ḥannā Diyāb's Tales', Marvels & Tales 32.1 (2018), 133–154 (part I); 32.2 (2018) 435–456 (part II) [English translations of Galland's summaries of Diyab's tales].
  • Catalogue record and digitisation of Vatican Library, Sbath.108 [a manuscript of which Diyāb seems to have been the scribe].
  • Catalogue record and digitisation of Vatican Library, Sbath.254 [Diyāb's manuscript autobiography in digital facsimile].

Further reading[edit]

  • Bottigheimer, Ruth B. (2014). "East Meets West: Hannā Diyāb and The Thousand and One Nights". Marvels & Tales. Wayne State University Press. 28 (2): 302-324. doi:10.13110/marvelstales.28.2.0302. ISSN 1536-1802. S2CID 161347721.
  • Bottigheimer, Ruth B. (2019). "Reading for Fun in Eighteenth-Century Aleppo. The Hanna Dyâb Tales of Galland's Mille et Une Nuits". Book History 22. 22: 133-160. doi:10.1353/bh.2019.0004. S2CID 208620138.
  • Bottigheimer, Ruth B. (2018). "Flying Carpets in the Arabian Nights: Disney, Dyâb ... and d'Aulnoy?". Gramarye. University of Chichester (13): 18-34.
  • Bottigheimer, Ruth B. (2018). "Hanna Dyâb's Witch and the Great Witch Shift". Cultures of Witchcraft in Europe from the Middle Ages to the Present. pp. 53–77. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-63784-6_3. ISBN 978-3-319-63783-9.
  • Bottigheimer, Ruth B. (2014). "The Case of 'The Ebony Horse': Hanna Diyab's Creation of a Third Tradition". Gramarye. University of Chichester. 6: 6-16.
  • Chraibi, Aboubakr (2004). "Galland's "Ali Baba" and Other Arabic Versions". Marvels & Tales. 18 (2): 159–169. doi:10.1353/mat.2004.0027. S2CID 162396135.
  • Horta, Paulo Lemos (February 2019). Marvellous Thieves: Secret Authors of the Arabian Nights. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674986596.
  • Kallas, Elie (2015). "Aventures de Hanna Diyab avec Paul Lucas et Antoine Galland (1707–1710)". Romano-Arabica (15): 255–267.
  • Amir Lerner (2018). ""The Story of the Vizier and His Son" from The Hundred and One Nights: Parallels in Midrashic Literature and Backgrounds in Early Arabic Sources". Narrative Culture. 5 (2): 211. doi:10.13110/narrcult.5.2.0211.
  • Marzolph, Ulrich (2012). "Les Contes de Ḥannā Diyāb". In Bouffard, Élodie; Joyard, Anne-Alexandra (eds.). Les mille et une nuits. Institut du Monde Arabe. p. 87–91.
  • Marzolph, Ulrich (2018). "Ḥannā Diyāb's Unpublished Tales: The Storyteller as an Artist in His Own Right". In Bauden, Frédéric; Waller, Richard (eds.). Antoine Galland (1646–1715) et son Journal: Actes du colloque international organisé à l'Université de Liège (16–18 janvier 2015) à l'occasion du tricentenaire de sa mor (in French). Peeters. p. 75–92. ISBN 9789042940949.
  • Ulrich Marzolph (2018). "The Man Who Made the Nights Immortal: The Tales of the Syrian Maronite Storyteller Ḥannā Diyāb". Marvels & Tales. 32: 114. doi:10.13110/marvelstales.32.1.0114. S2CID 165578788.


  1. ^ a b c d Alastair Hamilton, review of Hanna Dyâb, D’Alep à Paris: Les pérégrinations d’un jeune syrien au temps de Louis XIV, ed. and trans. by Paule Fahmé-Thiéry, Bernard Heyberger, and Jérôme Lentin (Sindbad, 2015), Erudition and the Republic of Letters, 1.4 (2016), 497–98, doi:10.1163/24055069-00104006.
  2. ^ a b c Arafat A. Razzaque, 'Who “wrote” Aladdin? The Forgotten Syrian Storyteller', Ajam Media Collective (14 September 2017).
  3. ^ a b Waxman, Olivia B. (May 23, 2019). "Was Aladdin Based on a Real Person? Here's Why Scholars Are Starting to Think So". Time. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  4. ^ Bottigheimer, Ruth B. “East Meets West” (2014).
  5. ^ Horta, Paulo Lemos (2018). Aladdin: A New Translation. Liveright Publishing. pp. 8–10. ISBN 9781631495175. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  6. ^ Paulo Lemos Horta, Marvellous Thieves: Secret Authors of the Arabian Nights (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017), pp. 24-95.
  7. ^ Elie Kallas, 'The Aleppo Dialect According to the Travel Accounts of Ibn Raʕd (1656) Ms. Sbath 89 and Ḥanna Dyāb (1764) Ms. Sbath 254', in De los manuscritos medievales a internet: la presencia del árabe vernáculo en las fuentes escritas, ed. by M. Meouak, P. Sánchez, and Á. Vicente (Zaragoza: Universidad de Zaragoza, 2012), pp. 221–52.
  8. ^ a b c d John-Paul Ghobrial, review of Hanna Dyâb, D’Alep à Paris: Les pérégrinations d’un jeune syrien au temps de Louis XIV, ed. and trans. by Paule Fahmé-Thiéry, Bernard Heyberger, and Jérôme Lentin (Sindbad, 2015), The English Historical Review, volume 132, issue 554 (February 2017), 147–49, doi:10.1093/ehr/cew417.
  9. ^ a b Paulo Lemos Horta, Marvellous Thieves: Secret Authors of the Arabian Nights (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017), pp. 25–27.
  10. ^ Ruth B. Bottigheimer, 'East Meets West: Hannā Diyāb and The Thousand and One Nights', Marvels & Tales, 28.2 (2014), 302–24 (pp. 313–14).
  11. ^ a b Ulrich Marzolph, 'The Man Who Made the Nights Immortal: The Tales of the Syrian Maronite Storyteller Ḥannā Diyāb', Marvels & Tales, 32.1 (2018), 114–25, doi:10.13110/marvelstales.32.1.0114.
  12. ^ a b Ruth B. Bottigheimer, 'East Meets West: Hannā Diyāb and The Thousand and One Nights', Marvels & Tales, 28.2 (2014), 302–24 (pp. 304–6).
  13. ^ Ruth B. Bottigheimer, Hannâ Diyâb, Antoine Galland, and Hannâ Diyâb’s Tales: I. On-the-Spot Recordings, Later Summaries, and One Translation; II. Western Sources in Eastern Texts.” In Mémoires de l’Association pour la Promotion de l’Histoire et de l’Archéologie Orientales. Liège: Peeters,2020. 51-72.
  14. ^ John-Paul Ghobrial, 'The Archive of Orientalism and its Keepers: Re-Imagining the Histories of Arabic Manuscripts in Early Modern Europe', Past & Present, Volume 230, Issue suppl_11 (November 2016), 90–111 (p. 102), doi:10.1093/pastj/gtw023.
  15. ^ Elie Kallas, 'Aventures de Hanna Diyab avec Paul Lucas et Antoine Galland (1707–1710)', Romano-Arabica, 15 (2015), 255–67.
  16. ^ John-Paul A. Ghobrial, 'Stories Never Told: The First Arabic History of the New World', Osmanlı Araştırmaları / The Journal of Ottoman Studies, 40 (2012), 259–82 (pp. 5–6).
  17. ^ Ulrich Marzolph, 'The Man Who Made the Nights Immortal: The Tales of the Syrian Maronite Storyteller Ḥannā Diyāb', Marvels & Tales, 32.1 (2018), 114–25 (pp. 118–19), doi:10.13110/marvelstales.32.1.0114.
  18. ^ Victor Chauvin, Bibliographie des ouvrages arabes [...], vols. 4–7 (Vaillant-Carmanne and Harrassowitz, 1900–1903).

Further reading[edit]

  • Larzul, Sylvette. "Further Considerations on Galland's "Mille Et Une Nuits": A Study of the Tales Told by Hanna." In: Marvels & Tales 18, no. 2 (2004): pp. 258–71. www.jstor.org/stable/41388712.