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The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights: Volume 1 (Penguin Classics) Paperback – May 25, 2010
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-The Sunday Times (London)
"The translation . . . ought to become the standard one for the present century."
-The Times Literary Supplement
"These magnificent volumes are the most ambitious and thorough translation into English of The Arabian Nights since the age of Queen Victoria and the British Empire."
"This new translation of the world's greatest collection of folk stories restores their colour and verve."
-The Sunday Times (London)
About the Author
Ursula Lyons, formerly an Affiliated Lecturer at the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Cambridge University and, since 1976, an Emeritus Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, specialises in modern Arabic literature.
Robert Irwin is the author of For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and Their Enemies, The Middle East in the Middle Ages, The Arabian Nights: A Companion and numerous other specialised studies of Middle Eastern politics, art and mysticism. His novels include The Limits of Vision, The Arabian Nightmare, The Mysteries of Algiers and Satan Wants Me.
Top Customer Reviews
But what this 21st Century reader found interesting were the gender roles of the two sexes. In these stories the women are far more likely to be consumed with lust than men are and men are just as apt to swoon from emotion as any damsel. Several of the female characters disguise themselves as men in order to lead armies and win contests of swordsmanship. Everyone oohs and ahs over the beauty of both males and females. Several of the characters are homosexual (but they are invariably villainous). This is really provocative material.
This is only volume one and it's 960 pages that I read very quickly. The translation by Malcolm C. Lyons is a masterpiece. Both intellectually and sensually thrilling, ARABIAN NIGHTS is engrossing reading and I look forward to reading the other two volumes. Shahrazad lives. Five stars.
Well, I simply wasn't patient enough. I read the story of the first night, and I had to know how it went on.
I ended up reading the first volume of this in about two weeks (roughly 70 pages a day) during finals at college. I literally could not put it down. The 1,001 Nights gave me a child-like feeling that I have not experienced since reading Mr. Popper's Penguins in second or third grade.
The 1,001 Nights are truly magical; they are filled with demons, magic, other worlds, people unintentionally marrying 'ifrits, etc. But what truly makes them magical is that, even when the stories have no elements of the supernatural, they still seem convincingly bizarre and fantastic because of the vastly different culture in which the stories takes place. This different culture is sometimes disturbing (when a mistress is unfaithful it always happens to be with a conniving black slave, and women are thought to be treacherous, libidinous creatures) but always makes for a more interesting read.
Also included in this volume is the famous story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, which is not part of the original nights, but I'm still glad they put it in.
The book itself is heavy and beautiful, the maps and index of words are very helpful (who would know that 'A'isha was the third favorite wife of the prophet without it?) and the introduction gives an important historical backdrop, as well as addressing the irritating fact that the nights contain so many events that are unexplained.
Is it complete?Read more ›
While I'm no authority on translations, I'm guessing that Jorges Luis Borges, who analyzed extant translations of his day, would have approved of this version. The language flows and is felicitous. The sensual - food, sex, surroundings, and character descriptions - come through here.
But the real pleasure comes in the ride. I'd not read the stories before, but the first impression is how much they influenced the works of Borges. The exotic qualities of many of his stories are derived from these stories.
For the uninitiated, these may be the most imaginative stories you will ever read. Supranatural creatures about. Spells are cast transforming characters into animals, and uncast to gain revenge. Chains of unintended consequences unfold with otherworldly consequences. The feasts, the drinking, the sex is a riot of sensuality. Love has never been richer. Conflict has never been more sweeping nor more mortal.
The stories are rhizomic, sprouting from one another endlessly, spreading in unanticipated directions. These stories have a far greater hold on my imagination than fairy tales developed in the West (not that there is anything wrong with them, but these stories are so much more compelling). I keep this on my bedside table to read when I just want to surrender my mind to purest and most enchanting entertainment. It's most difficult to put these stories down.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very nice book! I loved the fact that it really does contain all the stories from the original collection, not just selections. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Chumpa Kali
Great edition, and a great read. Just have to remember the time period and place ( sexist and racist ). Read morePublished 7 months ago by ecathryn
The person who I bought this book for said it was good. But was a hard read. He didn't want the other 2 in the series.Published 9 months ago by Rossie A Reader
I have always wanted to read a complete set of the Arabian Nights tales. This is it... Enjoyable way to kill time..Published 18 months ago by Sack lunch Ninja
Light and captivating as a flying carpet this anthology consists of ten tales of vary lengths. The collection offers readers the spectrum of human behavior: themes of love, greed,... Read morePublished on January 24, 2014 by Plume45
I enjoy reading classics and traditional tales - The Odyssey is a favorite of mine - and after recently reading Tamim Ansary's Destiny Disrupted: The History of the World Through... Read morePublished on October 25, 2013 by Gary Hoggatt
This vies with John Payne as the best English translation of the Nights ever done. If you want the Arabian Nights and want them in English get this, unless you're rich. Read morePublished on October 7, 2013 by Ricky W. Shiffer, Jr.