Scholars have situated Najib ‘Azuri’s famous book Le reveil de la nation arabe (1905) primarily within the context of two major historiographical debates: the origins of Arab nationalism and the beginnings of an Arab-Jewish conflict in twentieth-century Palestine. Both these interpretations have not only largely failed to take ‘Azuri’s social and political context into account but have also relied on highly selective readings of the text itself. In tracing the reception of ‘Azuri’s work, this article seeks to shed light on the trajectory of Western scholarship about the Middle East over the past fifty years. It also attempts to take a closer look at the text of Le reveil and suggest some of the ways the book could be used not as a source for the perennial foci of the Middle East’s recent political history but as a snapshot of the concerns of a mobile, Western-facing, Levantine Arab Christian intellectual elite during the final decades of Ottoman rule.

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