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The Arabian Nights (Norton Critical Editions) Paperback – December 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0393928082 ISBN-10: 039392808X Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Norton Critical Editions
  • Paperback: 523 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (December 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039392808X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393928082
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 8.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A fine new translation. Bawdy, colloquial and wondrously inventive.” (Michiko Kakutani - New York Times)

“Easily the clearest, most fluent and readable translation.” (A. S. Byatt - Sunday Times [London])

“Indispensable. Not a new version of an old favorite, but a work we’ve never known.” (Geoffrey O'Brien - Voice Literary Supplement)

“A distinguished new translation.” (Edward Said - The Nation)

“The resourceful Shahrazad has never been more entertaining than in this fresh and vigorous version of this immortal book.” (Doris Lessing - The Independent)

Language Notes

Text: English, Arabic (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I thoroughly enjoyed reading Haddawy's translation of "The Arabian Nights".
Chad M. Brick
While I did not read the whole book, we did read some of the first one hundred pages and the story line did catch my attention, it was a very interesting book.
Jessica Pierce
Not only do the tales read very, very well -- in good, elegant English -- but also the author does a great job at explaining why a new translation is needed.
G.LL.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

199 of 205 people found the following review helpful By Charles Pinney on May 1, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I will say that Husain Haddawy's translations of "The Arabian Nights" are the best you'll read for quite some time. I've had these books for awhile now and they're great. Haddawy has done a remarkable job and provides great introductions for both books. A map is also provided in each book showing the locales mentioned in the stories.
There are really two volumes you will need to get the complete collection. This volume has the earlier stories as told by Shahrazad, classic tales of mystery, fun, and excitement.
The second book " The Arabian Nights II" has the more popular stores most people are familiar with. Sinbad the Sailor, Ali Baba and the Fourty Thieves, Ala al-Din (Aladdin) and the Magic Lamp.
Be sure to get them both and you'll be transported to the mystical lands of Arabian Nights. Enjoy.
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116 of 120 people found the following review helpful By dltstl on April 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I really had no idea how much I would enjoy this! I came to it with some vague recollections of some of the tales as they had been adapted into children's stories, but I soon discovered I actually knew almost nothing about the Arabian Nights.
The introduction was extremely helpful in explaining the history of the Arabian Nights, why there are different versions, and why those different versions may contain different tales. This volume collects the oldest, "original" tales. More familiar stories that were added later--such as Sinbad and Aladdin--are collected in a separate volume, Arabian Nights II.
This translation is an absolute joy to read. The language is vivid and alive--thoroughly modern, yet (judging from the effect on me as a reader) certainly successful in conveying the nuances of the original text.
I glanced at the Modern Library Burton edition after reading this. It reads like a King James Bible. Why subject yourself to a translation that you to re-translate in order to read--especially with a wonderful modern translation like this available? How terribly that must choke the pace of the stories!
I felt like the King himself as I read this, knowing that I needed to put it down to go to sleep, but constantly telling myself, "Well, maybe I'll push on for just one more night..." Funny, sexy, violent, and packed with magic and adventure, it really had it all.
Except for children, for whom the original tales are too sexual and violent, I can hardly imagine an audience this WOULDN'T appeal to!
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78 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Scott Chamberlain VINE VOICE on October 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have loved the Arabian Nights since I was a kid. But its fame as a "children's book" has often been a disadvantage -- most editions are simplified, hobbled and sanitized. The unedited versions geared more for adults are a hundred years old, and often show their age. Burton, for example, is an impressive edition but the language is almost a parody of High Victorian English. This edition by Haddawy is almost as perfect as it could possibly be. First, the introduction is wonderful and definately worth reading on its own -- how many times can you say *that* about a book? It sets the stage for understanding the work, the problems in translating it, and the world the Nights came from. It is clearly, smoothly written. These strengths are carried over to the main text as well. The writing is so direct, modern, vivid, and thrilling! It effortlessly takes you into this vanished world of danger, love, magic and adventure. Many expressions are modernized, such as "demon" for "genie" or "God" for "Allah," which work well, although I wouldn't have minded the the more "romantic" terms. Haddawy explains his choice of stories... the full original text only contains about 300 nights worth of tales. Most of the famous stories were added later (Aladdin, Sindbad, etc.) in response to greater interest in the work. Readers looking for these stories should check out Haddawy's companion volume, "Arabian Nights II," which has these famous stories and shares almost all the virtues of this volume. Finally, these books are wonderfully put together: great paper, type, binding... very satisfying just as a physical form. For those who loved these stories, or anyone with a sense of adventure, buy this! Buy it now!
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Chad M. Brick on June 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Haddawy's translation of "The Arabian Nights". It has a feeling of authenticity, as if it is truely an oral story being passed down through the ages, as it once was. The whole concept of the book is mind-boggling, with stories within stories so many times over that half the fun of reading the book is trying to follow the winding path that the stories lead you down. The physical book itself is also top-notch, as the Everyman's Library editions always are. For me, investing the few extra dollars for such a beautiful edition is well worth it.
This book may not be what you expect. It is not the Disney-fied, watered-down version that most of us were introduced to as children. Several of the more famous stories that most Americans would associate with "The Arabian Nights", such as Ali Baba or Aladdin, are actually not part of the work. They were added much later, by the early European translators. Also, the book contains bawdiness and violence (particularly towards women) that may not be appropriate for young children, so be forewarned. Overall, I feel that this an authentic, lucid translation of a fantastic story, wrapped in the most beautiful of packages. Highly recommended.
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