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Sanūʿ, Yaʿqub or James


SANŪ ʿ, YA ʿQUB OR JAMES (known as Abu Nazzara ; 1839–1912), Egyptian playwright; one of the first authors of plays in spoken Arabic, and one of the creators of satiric journalism in modern *Egypt. He was born in Egypt and studied in Leghorn. He then returned to Egypt and earned his livelihood by giving private lessons. He began to write as a result of his interest in politics, a rare phenomenon among Egyptian Jews of that time. Sanūʿ joined the ranks of a small group which was to be the nucleus of the Egyptian nationalist movement, and from 1858 began to write articles and, later, mordant plays against the government. For several years he presented plays in spoken Arabic, until this was prohibited in 1872. Thereafter he concentrated his literary and political efforts on publishing newspapers, of which he was printing editor and (from 1876) owner. In these, he mocked the khedive Ismāʿīl and incited his readers against his rule. In 1878 he was compelled to leave Egypt. He continued his journalistic activities in Paris and his periodicals were smuggled into Egypt, each time under a different title. After 1882 he directed his attacks against the British, who had occupied Egypt, and tried to enlist support against them in *France and *Turkey. His failure in this project was the cause of his retirement from political activity a few years before his death.


Landau, in: jjs, 3 (1952), 30–44; 5 (1954), 179–80; I.L. Gendzier, in: mej, 15 (1961), 16–28; idem, Practical Visions of Yaʿqub Sanuʿ (1966); J.M. Landau, Jews in Nineteenth-Century Egypt (1969). add bibliography: J.M. Landau, Studies in the Arab Theater and Cinema (1958), 65–67; Sh. Moreh, "Yaʿqūb Ṣanū…" in: Sh. Shamir (ed.), The Jews of Egypt: A Mediterranean Society… (1987), 111–29.

[Jacob M. Landau]

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