Translator, editor, scholar, and occasional ArabLit contributor Raph Cormack has launched a new blog called “Old Paper” to “explain and expand on the stories of the ephemera and oddities” that he finds on paper:
The launch looks at paper that ties together Russian-French writer and traveler Lydia Pashkov and Egyptian-French writer and activist Abou Naddara (Jaqoub Sanua), “who claimed to have started the Arabic theatrical tradition in Egypt and whose satirical publications riled the Egyptian authorities.”
Cormack writes about a copy of Lydia Pashkov’s collection of “exotic short stories” Fleur de Jade, which Cormack says the previous owner probably picked up, or was given, at a feminist conference that Pashkov organised in Paris in 1896.
On another of the front pages the owner of the book has also inserted the business cards of both Sanua and Pashkov. I admit that it is not strong evidence, but it does conjure a scene of the two lovers having a conversation with this Ottoman dignitary as they milled around at Pashkov’s feminist conference. At least it shows how, with a little work, stories can be elicited from books like these that are at least entertaining enough to fill the pages of this blog.
Cormack adds, on his “about” page, “I am aware of the irony of creating an online blog to do this.”
You can follow him at onpaper.blog.