The extraordinary novelist, educator, and publisher Jurji Zaidan (1861–1914) was born to a Beirut family of modest means. He learned to read and write early, but was obliged to put off studying so he could help his illiterate father with bookkeeping.
"Terrific stuff": In "The Battle of Poitiers" Frankish and Burgundian forces fought against an army of the Umayyad Caliphate led by Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, Governor-General of al-Andalus
An Arab Alexandre Dumas: Jurji Zaidan and his family circa 1908. In his pursuit of an Arab cultural renaissance, Zaidan melded Arab and European ideas His parents argued for many years: His mother wanted Jurji to return to his studies, but, according to an unpublished autobiography, Jurji's father said that more education would turn his son "into some westernized dandy…who eats only with fork and knife – and perhaps it will occur to him to wear Frankish clothes."