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Arabian Nights and Days: A Novel Paperback – September 15, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0385469012 ISBN-10: 0385469012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (September 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385469012
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385469012
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.5 x 5.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,619 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nobel laureate Mahfouz's collection of tales inspired by A Thousand and One Nights was originally published in Arabic in 1979.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Anyone with suspicions about the fairy tale tag "They lived happily ever after" will have them confirmed here. The latest translation of Mahfouz (winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize for Literature) is a clever, witty concoction that begins on the day following the Thousand and One Nights, when the vizier Dandan learns that his daughter, Shahrzad, has succeeded in saving her life by enthralling the sultan with wondrous tales. But Shahrzad is miserable and distrusts her husband, who, she suspects, is still capable of bloody doings. All is not well outside the palace either, where a medieval Islamic city teems with anxious souls. Many of them, like the devout Skeikh Abdullah al-Balkhi, strive to attain a high spiritual station, but few succeed, especially when genies and angels intervene, as they do often in this series of linked intrigues and adventures. Mahfouz succeeds splendidly with this fantasy, which should appeal to a wide readership. [Mahfouz is recovering from an October 14th Knife attack by alleged Islamic militants.-Ed.]-Starr E. Smith, Marymount Univ. Lib., Arlington, Va.
--Starr E. Smith, Marymount Univ. Lib., Arlington, Va.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Unique, fresh, and inspiring.
A. Yuen
So instead, I carry this book in my purse, just reading it in the marketplace, the street cafe, and on along the bus-ride.
O. Marie
Having read it twice from library copies, I finally bought a copy for my own and am reading it again.
Scott Berridge

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Matthew M. Yau on June 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
Naguib Mahfouz's Arabian Nights and Days is a bitterly entertaining and compelling read. In medieval age, in some unknown Islamic town, genies pulled a series of escapades that created havoc. The clash between the genies and the townspeople was evocative of inveterate, age-old struggles of virtue, corruption, despotism, injustice, and other practices purged by conscience.
Seized by a pang of guilt that pricked his heart, Sultan Shahriyar repented of his atrocious massacre of virgins and other pious, god-fearing people. Shahrzad, daughter of vizier Dandan, sacrificed her happiness and remained with the sultan in order to stem the torrent of blood.
Merchant Sanaan al-Gamali had a nightmare in which a genie would otherwise punish him if he refused to kill the governor, who had brought about the genie through black magic and made the genie accomplish purposes not approved by conscience. In a state of delirium and crazed fantasies, Sanaan raped and murdered a girl. When Gamali finally summoned his courage, unsheathed the dagger, aimed at the governor's heart and stabbed with a strength drawn from determination and despair, the genie abandoned Gamali to his own fate.
Gamasa al-Bulti, the chief of police, was another man whom the genie chose to be the saving of the quarter from corruption. Gamasa was despondent at the ruin of Gamali's family, which now lived in ignominy. But the chief remained aloof to Gamali's widow for fear of ruining his own position and his standing with the sultan, who regarded the blow directed against his official as being aimed against him personally. The genie confronted Gamasa as one despicable person feeding off ignominy for he protected the elite (who was just as corrupted) by prosecuting the respectable people.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 1997
Format: Paperback
You know the stories, but you don't. You think you're on the path, but you are not on THE PATH. It's magical, but it feels real. And then you just give in to it, and you float away. This is why I read. Arabian Nights and Days will remain on my shelf for my children's children and then some, for it crosses generational, cultural and religious lines with the same ease and comfort of our best loved fables
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Billy J. Hobbs VINE VOICE on July 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
It's "Scheherazade Redux" in Naguib Mahfouz's "Arabian Nights and Days." The
1988 Nobel Prize for literature winner takes the times and ages-old story and gives us a
re-telling, carving his initials on some of those characters (and stories) of a thousand
and one nights: Sinbad, Aladdin, Scheherazade, etc.
It is a tale told by a learned Egyptian who's display of the original themes take on a
more modern glimmer. Granted, Mahfouz keeps the setting in the middle ages, but he
takes those themes and re-iterates their timeliness.
Once again, here are the genies and humans facing (sometimes defying) love, hatred,
greed, lust, and certainly the social injustices of any corrupt system. Throughout the
narrative, good is constantly squaring off against evil. That there's nothing new under
the sun doesn't phase Mahfouz, however, as he takes some seventeen tales and
skillfully weaves them into his own magical spell.
Mahfouz is compared to Proust, Camus, Salinger, and an introspective Hemingway,
and justifiably so. Hailed as the "widest-read Arab writer currently published in the
U.S.," Mahfouz has certainly wielded his own influence among international readers
since the Prize; alas, it seems it took the impact of this award for his books to achieve
their circulation, but that doesn't diminish his themes, his philosophies, his impact on
both socially significant issues and modern literature. That said, however, the author
(already some 30 novels to his credit), strikes adamantly at issues that transcend into
modern, more socially-significant items of today and thus "Arabian Nights and Days"
is more than just a fairy tale. It's a good read. (...)
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Rashed Chowdhury on July 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
A fascinating journey into the lives of the inhabitants of a city that faces the age-old struggles between virtue and corruption, freedom and despotism, justice and injustice. The novel is a loosely-woven collection of tales bound together by a strong sense of place that centres on the Café of the Emirs, where rich and poor alike gather daily to discuss the events of the day. Mahfouz's characters seek to escape the dreariness and injustice of everyday life, some through love, some by the sword, and some through dreams of flying or administering justice. Some succeed, some are put to death, but there is always a lesson to be learned by the city. A sense of timelessness pervades the book, the issues raised by Mahfouz as important today as they were in the days of the Arabian Nights. Some of the tales are more successful than others, but the overall work is enthralling.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A. Yuen on March 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
Unique, fresh, and inspiring. At times amusing, at times disturbing, but always thought-provoking, never allowing good and evil to really be defined. The reader never knows what to expect. Go read it! It's quality literature that should not be missed.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Michael Akard on April 17, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is very readable and not too long, and the translation is excellent. Starting where the traditional Arabian Nights' Entertainment leaves off, Mahfouz cleverly describes surprising events in a world in which "jinn" (genies) are actively involved in the affairs of mankind. The tale is very enjoyable.

But on another level, Mahfouz indirectly poses a more philosophical query: to what extent am I responsible for my actions, and if I err, to what extent can I blame circumstances, outside interference, and my inherent weakness as a human being? And if a very wicked person repents of his evil deeds, how much forgiveness is he entitled to in this world?

I recommend the book.
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