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The First Well

Jabra Ibrahim Jabra • Translated from the Arabic by Issa J. Boullata

Published Date: November 1, 1995

Available in


A Bethlehem Boyhood
192 Pages
5 x 8.5

About this book

The First Well is an engaging autobiographical account of Jabra’s boyhood in Bethlehem, where he was born in 1920, and later in Jerusalem, where he moved as a teenager with his parents.Through the eyes and heart of a sensitive, highly imaginative boy, Jabra describes the first sources of his artistic sensibility—the houses, fields, and orchards of his childhood and the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish cultures of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The First Well is the story of his intellectual and spiritual growth nurtured and encouraged by his family, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and his teachers. His story is both captivatingly innocent and full of wisdom. Wordsworth’s observation, “The Child is father of the Man,” is entirely apt as Jabra’s literary and artistic interests take root and blossom. Here is a chronicle of the experiences and events he drew upon as he became one of the leading authors of the Arab world.

About the author/translator

Jabra Ibrahim Jabra was a sophisticated writer whose works include novels, short stories, essays, poetry, literary and art criticism, and Arabic translations of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets as well as over thirty Western literary classics. Jabra died in Baghdad on December 12, 1994.


Issa J. Boullata is a professor of Arabic Literature and Language at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Born in Jerusalem in 1929, he is a United States citizen, educated at the University of London, receipient of numerous awards and recognitions, and author of several books in both Arabic and English.


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