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The Arabian Nights: The Marvels and Wonders…
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The Arabian Nights: The Marvels and Wonders of the Thousand and One Nights…

by Jack Zipes (Editor), Richard Francis Burton (Translator)

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Showing 5 of 5
During my childhood I had already read parts of the 1001-nights stories. I never came across the official version, untill I got this book.

So... I have finished reading it today. Read it in parts, everybtime I picked up the book I read as much as I wanted. It isn't a book (at least for me it wasn't) to read without pauses.

I liked it and I loved to finally learn what fate had in store for Scheherazade and her sister. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Jul 15, 2017 |
Recently I have read many books that have been familiar already due to adaptations, The Arabian Nights is like this. No ready comes to this book without some prior exposure to one or more of the tales. This collection brings together Aladdin and his magic lamp, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and Sinbad, to name but three. What is different is that what we have here are fuller, more exotic, more complicated tales, intertwined, stories within stories like a literary Russian doll.

The stories are bound together by their narrator, Scheherazade, a clever woman who fights for her life, and consequently that of others, through her story telling. Her husband, King Shahryar, cuckolded and humiliated by his first wife, takes out his wrath on his following wives. He marries them, spends the wedding night with them, then has them executed the next morning, thus ensuring never to be cheated on again. Scheherazade has a plan, she weaves a tale, then breaks off at dawn, whetting the king's appetite for more of the story, and so making him grant her a stay of execution.

Despite the fantastical nature of the stories- Jinns, magic and strange beasts -, the reader can glean a lot of cultural and social information. Scheherazade chooses her stories well, with themes of betrayal, revenge, love, marriage and the sexes, she slowly educates her husband so he will see fit to remove the executioner's shadow from her life for good.

If you enjoy a good story and would like to read the unsanitised version of classic tales, then this is your book. I would advise you, however, to read it in chunks as some stories are similar in theme. As for my favourite story, I enjoyed reading the tale of the hunch-back, the stories which come together, especially that of the verbose “silent” barber. This edition comes with a good note on the text and afterword, providing background information on Richard Burton and the stories. ( )
  soffitta1 | Apr 11, 2011 |
I'm sure I read some of Scheherazade's tales as a child, but any memory of them is hazy at best. Of course, whatever I read as a child would have been sanitized for my protection. Not so this version, which was full of sex and violence.

When King Shahryar and his brother King Shah Zaman discover their wives have been cheating on them, they kill their wives and go off to find someone more unfortunate than themselves, to make them feel better. They find a jinnee who has captured a virgin and is keeping her for himself, but unbeknownst to him, to get back at him for holding her captive she is having sex with other men whenever he falls asleep. Of course, instead of feeling sorry for the captive woman, they see this as more evidence that no woman can be trusted, so King Shahryar decides to marry a virgin every night, sleep with her, and then have her killed in the morning. He does this every day for three years, by which time his kingdom is pretty much emptied of virgins. His grand vizier, whose task it is to procure the virgin every day and then kill her the next morning, laments to his daughter Scheherazade that he can't find anyone for the king. The lovely and educated Scheherazade volunteers to marry the king in order to stop the madness. That night, she asks the king if her sister can spend the night in the room with them so she can say goodbye. By prearrangement, her sister asks Scheherazade to tell her a story.

And thus begins the thousand and one nights, with Scheherazade telling tales, and tales within tales, and tales within tales within tales, stopping every night as dawn comes (at a very exciting point!) and tantalizing the king so that he keeps her alive for one more night so he can hear more.

The tales are exciting and fantastical, and the structure is beautiful, with each tale opening the way to a new one. This particular volume (as far as I can tell, there is no one definitive volume) has some familiar stories (like Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, Aladdin and the Magic Lamp, and the Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Seaman) and unfamiliar ones (like The Ebony Horse and The Hunchback's Tale), with kings and slaves, jinnees and demons, giant birds and dragons. There is a running theme of storytelling to save one's life, which of course eventually works its way up to Scheherazade herself.

The tales of the Arabian Nights were written long, long ago, and I should have expected them to be offensive. I guess I did expect them to be offensive, but somehow I was still shocked and offended over and over again by the sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, and all the other -isms. I think I would have been less offended if some of this had been acknowledged by the editor of this book, which was after all published in the 1990s. But instead, the back-cover copy (and the editor's afterword) refers to "Prince Behram and the Princess Al-Datma" as "a delightful early version of The Taming of the Shrew." This particular story is delightful in the same way as General Hospital charmed us all by having Luke rape Laura late at night in the disco, sparking off their long-running love affair. The Princess Al-Datma has rejected countless suitors and defeated others in one-on-one combat. After losing a jousting match with the princess, Prince Behram disguises himself as an old gardener, charms the princess by pretending to by a harmless crackpot who gives beautiful jewels to her ladies-in-waiting in exchange for kisses, and when she decides to give him a kiss for the jewels, grabs her, throws her to the ground and rapes her. Delightful, right?

On the other hand, I was heartened to discover that the real hero of "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves" isn't Ali Baba himself, but his slave girl Morgiana, who cleverly discovers the thieves and defeats them, saving Ali Baba numerous times in the process. And I was completely absorbed in Sinbad's seven voyages (although I kept imagining his friends and family begging him not to get on a boat again, since he was clearly cursed!) and the story of The Ebony Horse. Like King Shahryar, I was often entranced, and rather than put the book down, I would push on to hear just one more of Scheherazade's stories. ( )
3 vote cabegley | Jan 26, 2008 |
These are classic tales for a reason. Clearly this culture values craftiness! Many plot twists are to be found here. The stories did get a little repetitive towards the end, though. I think this anthology would be a book best sampled now and again rather than read straight through.
  caffron | Jul 13, 2007 |
I find the legend enwrapping the Arabian nights almost more interesting than the stories themselves. Do you know it, about Shahrazad? Many collections leave it out--this one doesn't make sure one that you pick up doesn't either. Jack Zipes is a great folklorist (i love myths, folklore, and religion if you haven't noticed--they all go together in my mind) ( )
  rampaginglibrarian | Jul 3, 2006 |
Showing 5 of 5
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zipes, JackEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burton, Richard FrancisTranslatormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Cerf, BennettEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Savage, SteeleIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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[A Note on the Text and the Translator] This adaptation is based on Richard F. Burton's The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, A Plain and Literal Translation of the Arabian Nights Entertainment, 10 vols. (Benares: Kamashastra Society, 1885-86).
A long time ago there was a mighty king of the Banu Sasan in the lands of India and China, and when he died, he left only two sons, one in the prime of manhood and the other still a youth, both brave cavaliers.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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STOP! This is volume 1 of an abridged adaptation by Jack Zipes of the Burton translation. Please DO NOT combine abridgments unless they have the same ISBN or you have confirmed they are exactly the same work with the same translator/editor. Please DO NOT combine abridgments with complete works. If you see abridgments and complete sets/editions combined together, please help by separating them. If in doubt, please DO NOT combine. Especially not when combining large numbers of copies. It takes a lot of time and effort to separate and recombine works.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451525426, Mass Market Paperback)

Full of mischief and valor, ribaldry and romance, The Arabian Nights is a work that has enthralled readers for centuries. The text presented here is that of the 1932 Modern Library edition for which Bennett A. Cerf chose the "most famous and representative" of the stories from the multivolume translation of Richard F. Burton.
The origins of The Arabian Nights are obscure. About a thousand years ago a vast number of stories in Arabic from various countries began to be brought together; only much later was the collection called The Arabian Nights or the Thousand and One Nights. All the stories are told by Shahrazad (Scheherazade), who entertains her husband, King Shahryar, whose custom it was to execute his wives after a single night. Shahrazad begins a story each night but withholds the ending until the following night, thus postponing her execution.
This selection includes many of the stories that are universally known though seldom read in this authentic form:
"Alaeddin; or, the Wonderful Lamp, " "Sindbad the Seaman and Sindbad the Landsman, " and "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves." These, and the tales that accompany them, make delightful reading, demonstrating, as the Modern Library noted in 1932, that Shahrazad's spell remains unbroken.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:30 -0400)

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