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The Arabian Nights by Muhsin Mahdi
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The Arabian Nights

by Muhsin Mahdi

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
The Haddawy translation of the Nights is by far my favorite. It doesn't have every possible story (although many more are covered in the second volume) and it's not a huge 19 volume set or anything but the translation is so readable and enjoyable. The poetry is translated well and in most cases actually is still quite poetic even in translation (and many times those kinds of things don't translate well). There are brief footnotes to explain things the translator doesn't think the reader will automatically know which is helpful in understanding the context of the story. This translation is also fairly concise and doesn't add any extra's to draw out the stories length. Overall it's a great introduction to Alf Layla we Layla for new readers of this fantastic set of stories within stories (probably why this and the 2nd volume tend to be so popular for college literature classes) and it's also a nice read for those already familiar with the Arabian Nights as translated by Lang, Lane, Burton, or any other translator. It does contain some scenes of sexual intercourse and such so it's still not a children's version but it's also not overly excessive graphic content either. If your only going to read one version of the Arabian Nights make it this one. ( )
  CassandraStrand | Jan 2, 2014 |
The ultimate "story within a story" - think How I Met Your Mother, only a few hundred years earlier, and a lot more gruesome. The episodic setup makes it easy to read this book in short bursts, and each little story is interesting in its own way. ( )
  deathbykleenex | Jan 9, 2013 |
While I can't comment on the quality of the translation, The Arabian Nights is a dizzying array of stories within stories within stories, playing with the idea that our narrative impulse is the connective tissue that makes civilization possible. The stories are at their best when they fully indulge in fantasy, recounting tales of demons, transformative magic, and epic romance.

As much as I liked the book, however, I had a few complaints, principally the lack of development in the frame story of Shahrazad and its disappointingly abrupt ending. While her story does exist primarily as a means of telling other stories, I really regretted that after her first night with the king, she becomes nothing more than a chapter break. If The Arabian Nights exists as a tribute to her bravery, skill, wit, and inventiveness as a storyteller, I would have appreciated the chance to see her put to use in other ways. The constant interpolations to remind us that she is narrating for her very survival only serve as a reminder that we're learning nothing else about her.

As with any compendium of stories, some are less interesting than others, and I enjoyed the earlier stories a great deal more than those which ended the book. The introduction made mention of the fact that the book was probably the result of a number of different writers, and reading the stories makes that more than plain. The interlocking stories and cliffhanger endings that I found so interesting disappear entirely as the book goes on, to its detriment.

In addition to the sheer pleasure of the book as an exploration of storytelling, I found it a work of great cultural interest as well. Many of the stories have a decidedly foreign flavor, not just in terms of locale but in what the narrator chooses to emphasize. I found myself thinking on many occasions that I wished the Qur'an had been more like this book, as it seems to provide a much greater insight into a culture about which I know depressingly little. ( )
  jawalter | Nov 18, 2012 |
Stories help make us who we are - it is that simple.

This is a very accessible translation, and a beautiful paperback, which delivers the stories in contemporary language. Not only does the work bring Shadrazad back to life for us but it gives us a glimpse into societies quite remote from our own. The stories show the triumph of humans over adversity, on occasion the succumbing of them to it, and generally the love of the tall tale that helps make us social beings.

Long live Shadrazad and all the storytellers... ( )
  TomMcGreevy | May 5, 2011 |
This is supposed to be an accurate translation of the Arabian Nights, but having read no other version, I can't be the judge of that. I can say that these are very entertaining stories, though it would probably be better not to read them all at once. When you do, a certain sort of tedium sets in. Prepare to put yourself in a different mindset to enjoy these. ( )
  datrappert | Nov 15, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (23 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mahdi, Muhsinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andrew LangEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haddawy, HusainTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Bless thee, Bottom! Bless thee! Thou art translated.
--A Midsummer Night's Dream
Dedication
For Mike, for Myriam, Peter
Christopher, and Mark, and for
Diana and Shahrazad
First words
Introduction
The World of The Arabian Nights
It has been some years now since as a little boy in Baghdad I used to listen to tales from The Thousand and One Nights.
Prologue:
[The Story of King Shahrayar and Shahrazad, His Vizier's Daughter]
It is related -- but God knows and sees best what lies hidden in the old accounts of bygone peoples and times -- that long ago, during the time of the Sasanid dynasty, in the peninsulas of India and Indochina, there lived two kings who were brothers.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679413383, Hardcover)

(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

These stories (and stories within stories, and stories within stories within stories), told by the Princess Shahrazad under the threat of death if she ceases to amuse, first reached the West around 1700. They fired in the European imagination an appetite for the mysterious and exotic which has never left it. Collected over centuries from India, Persia, and Arabia, and ranging from vivacious erotica, animal fables, and adventure fantasies to pointed Sufi tales, the stories of The Arabian Nights provided the daily entertainment of the medieval Islamic world at the height of its glory.

The present new translation by Husain Haddawy is of the Mahdi edition, the definitive Arabic edition of a fourteenth-century Syrian manuscript in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, which is the oldest surviving version of the tales and is considered to be the most authentic. This early version is without the embellishments and additions that appear in later Indian and Egyptian manuscripts, on which all previous English translations were based.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:36:23 -0400)

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Based on the text of the fourteenth-century Syrian manuscript.

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Audible.com

An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

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W.W. Norton

Two editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393313670, 0393331660

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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