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Ameen Rihani (Amīn Fāris Anṭūn ar-Rīḥānī) (Arabic: أمين الريحاني‎ / ALA-LC: Amīn ar-Rīḥānī; 1876 – 1940), was a Lebanese Arab-American writer, intellectual and political activist. He was also a major figure in the mahjar literary movement developed by Arab emigrants in North America, and an early theorist of Arab nationalism. He became an American citizen in 1901.
Born in Freike (in modern-day Lebanon) on November 24, 1876, Rihani was one of six children and the oldest son of a Lebanese Maronite raw silk manufacturer, Fares Rihani. In 1888, his father sent his brother and Ameen to New York City; he followed them a year later. Ameen, then eleven years old, was placed in a school where he learned the rudiments of the English language. His father and uncle, having established themselves as merchants in a small cellar in lower Manhattan, soon felt the need for an assistant who could read and write in English. Therefore, the boy was taken away from school to become the chief clerk, interpreter and bookkeeper of the business.
During this time, Ameen made the acquaintance of American and European writers. He eventually became familiar with the writings of Shakespeare, Hugo, Darwin, Huxley, Spencer, Whitman, Tolstoy, Voltaire, Thoreau, Emerson and Byron, to name a few. Ameen had a natural talent in eloquent speaking, and in 1895, the teenager became carried away by stage fever and joined a touring stock company headed by Henry Jewet (who later had his theatre in Boston). During th..
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