Kamel Keilany (1897-1959)

Kamel Keilany was an eminent figure of modern Arabic literature whose marvellous works left a mark inthe literary history genuinely qualifying him to be "the pioneer of child literature".
Childhood and Education
Kamel Keilany was born in Al-Kala'a district, a popular quarter of Cairo, near Muqu'tam Mountain; and growing up in such ambience redolent of legends and songs, he was accustomed to an early solitude, which gave him the opportunity to read, assimilate and memorize more than 20 thousands of elite verses of Arabic poetry. Keilany also memorized the Holy Qu'ran at the Kuttab (the pre school religious classes).
Keilany later joined the primary and then secondary education to finally obtain the high school certificate. He immersed himself in studying English literature and memorizing English poetry; he likewise studied French.
Keilany then joined the old Egyptian University where he was distinguished. He planned to study Arabic, English and French literatures, and decided at the same time to join the school of Dante Alighioni to study Italian literature. He was the schoolmate of prominent Egyptian men of letters such as Drs. Zaki Mubarak, Abdel-Wahab Azzam, Hassan Ibrahim and others.
Professional Career:
He worked as teacher of English and translation in a preparatory school. Keilany then worked in the Ministry of Awqaf (Islamic endowments), to finally assume the post of "Secretary of the Higher AwqafCouncil in 1954.
Meanwhile, he worked in journalism and art. He assumed the post of "Chairman of Modern Actors' Club in 1918, then Editor-in-chief of El-Ragaa newspaper founded in 1922, later he became Secretary of the Arabic Liteature Society from 1922 to 1932.
Keilany: the man of letters:
Keilany was influenced by his uncle who fostered him while he was young. He was a rich source of tales and a good narrator. His uncle used to tell kamel, the child, an abundance of bedtime stories.
That was due to the glamour and splendour he found in foreign child stories, hence was his specific trend towards child literature. He wrote his first story of the kind, "Sindibad, the Sailor" in 1927. It wasfollowed by more than books.
By the outbreak of the Egyptian Revolution, Keilany composed new enthusiastic poetry, giving proof of his sincere patriotism.
Keilany's literary works
He made his first attempt in writing during his primary education in 1908. Later, he translated Andolusian literature and verified "Resalat El-Ghofran" or (Treatise on Forgiveness, written by the blind Arab poet Abu-al-Alaa AI-Maari). Some scholars assert that the Treatise on Forgive-ness influenced Dante in his composition of the Divine Comedy, and that many of its quatrains had a strong influence upon the poetry of Omar Khayyam. Keilany also explicated Ibn El-Roumi's poetry. Numerous books were published on different topics such as literature, religion, morals, grammar, criticism, comedy, the Prophet Mohammed (God's blessing and peace upon him) and his companions. Keilany also composed poetry, but he focused more on the pedagogics of children, he established a school for the literature of child tales.
Keilany faced all sorts of obstacles, but he could pave the way for the establishment of child literature; consequently he was honoured by the State and appreciated by writers and prominent figures of letters from Arab and Oriental countries.
Kamel Keilany died on Oct. 10, 1959, leaving behind a valuable heritage of publications on arabic literature in general and children's literature in particular.
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