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The original Memoiren einer arabischen Prinzessin by Sayyida Salme/Emily Ruete came out in German in 1886. The book immediately garnered great interest, was re-issued four times that year, then quickly translated into English, with appearances in the United Kingdom and United States in 1888 to more popular acclaim. Another translation appeared in the United States in 1907.


Today, the original English translations of the Memoirs are so widely available that most people have no idea those are not her actual words. Even worse, most people do not realize that some of the translated texts distort her original work. Readers who are interested in authentic accounts and scholars who seek primary sources need to look further than simple reprints of an old book.


Against this backdrop, the author's great-great-granddaughter was inspired to create a new translation of the Memoirs. This new edition does three things at once. First, it corrects the record with a highly accurate translation. Second, it brings in subsequent, historically available edits that never made it to publication. And third, it upgrades the text from an old-fashioned 19th century to a very readable 21st century narrative.

Available here!

Long before the technologies that now enable our extensive, pervasive, worldwide sharing, Sayyida Salme/ Emily Ruete sought to promote multicultural understanding. In her Memoirs lies a quest against disinformation, as she pushes back against caricatures and lockstep common wisdom. She promised readers upfront that she would speak authentically, knowing they might not approve of all she had to say, but committing to accurate descriptions and frank observations, as best she could. As she wrote in the Afterword of her London edition from 1888, this was to be a “faithful recollection” and “unvarnished reflection,” which she saw as a way to contribute her share. All the more reason that her work should be accurately translated, as in this new edition.

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