Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Mostafa el-Abbadi, Champion of Alexandria’s Resurrected Library, Dies at 88

Mostafa el-Abbadi, Champion of Alexandria’s Resurrected Library, Dies at 88....JONATHAN GUYER

CAIRO — Mostafa A. H. el-Abbadi, a Cambridge-educated historian of Greco-Roman antiquity and the soft-spoken visionary behind the revival of the Great Library of Alexandria in Egypt, died on Feb. 13 in Alexandria. He was 88.

His daughter, Dr. Mohga el-Abbadi, said the cause was heart failure.

Professor Abbadi’s dream of a new library — a modern version of the magnificent center of learning of ancient times — could be traced to 1972, when, as a scholar at the University of Alexandria, he concluded a lecture with an impassioned challenge.

“At the end, I said, ‘It is sad to see the new University of Alexandria without a library, without a proper library,’” he recalled in 2010. “‘And if we want to justify our claim to be connected spiritually with the ancient tradition, we must follow the ancient example by starting a great universal library.’”

It was President Richard M. Nixon who blew wind into the sails of Professor Abbadi’s ambitious proposal. When Nixon visited Egypt in 1974, he and President Anwar el-Sadat rode by train to Alexandria’s ancient ruins to observe their faded grandeur. When Nixon asked about the ancient library’s location and history, no one in the Egyptian entourage had an answer.

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