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The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – April 10, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

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"[A] book...that captivates in childhood, and still delights in age."

Language Notes

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

  • Series: Modern Library Classics
  • Paperback: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; 1st Modern Library edition (April 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375756752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375756757
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #419,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 123 people found the following review helpful By JLind555 on June 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Richard Burton's translation of "The Arabian Nights" is one of the oldest in existence and some people have a problem with this version; it's too old, antiquated, etc.; but for this reviewer, the very fact that it's an early translation lends the tales much of their charm; it underscores the fact that "The Arabian Nights" go back for hundreds of years, all the way back to "once upon a time". Richard Burton introduces us to Sharazad, that seductive storyteller who took the bull by the horns and dared to marry the sultan Shariyar who had been driven mad by the infidelity of his former wife and tried to exorcise the demons of her adultery by marrying a new wife every morning and slaying her that same night. Sharazad knows that a good tale can tame the savage beast much in the way music can, and she keeps the Sultan enchanted night after night with the tales that still enchant us in our own time. We all know about Aladdin and his magic lamp, and Ali Baba and the forty thieves, but there are loads of other treasures in this collection; my personal favorites, aside from Ali Baba, are the story of Ali the Persian (short, succinct, and very funny), and The Lady and Her Five Suitors, a hilarious tale of a woman who lures five men into a trap and then runs off with her boyfriend. And Sharazad, smart lady that she is, took care to insure her own future; not only does she regale her sultan with a thousand and one tales in as many nights, she also presents him with three children during that time, wins the heart of the sultan, and, we suppose, lives happily ever after.

No one knows where the tales originated. Burton suggests that the earliest may date from the 8th century A.D.
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By jf on December 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a phenomenal selection of the intricate web of fantasy commonly known as the "Arabian Nights."
Captain Burton's translation remains contested amongst scholars for its subjective indulgement and commentary (among other things). Nevertheless, his was a critical and monumental 16-volume endeavor that brought to the English world the legendary tales Shahrazad told King Shahryar--who exectued his mistresses after one night so as to preserve fidelity--in order to remain alive. It proved the most comprhensive and entertaining, and stands as the definitive translation for many.
But why should you bother with Burton, when you could go with Lane or Galland? As a reader, if your desire is to fully experience these tales as closely as possible in capturing that sense of adventure, excitement, of magic and morality that has fascinated imaginations for centuries, Burton's "plain literal translation" certainly dazzles and entertains, vividly, powerfully, without disappointment. You shall be drawn into the world of the thousand nights and a night, of Islam and Jinns, through Burton's archaic though eloquent diction--a part of the veil of fantasy--and his ample knowledge of Middle Eastern culture.
The present edition offers a vital, "representative" selection of these neatly woven and intertwining tales in one volume.
* Note: This can be fun, very enjoyable reading with patience, but the lack of paragraph breaks and the language may prove challenging for some.
Also: the hardcover is definitely a better choice, as it has placed the selected footnotes on the bottom of the page they appear on rather than the back of the book - like the paperback.
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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful By bixodoido on August 29, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
We are all familiar with the stories of Ali Baba, Aladdin, and Sinbad. But where did these tales come from? The answer lies in this wonderful (condensed) volume known as the 'Arabian Nights.'
The story is of a woman, Scheherazade, who marries a king. The king's custom is to spend one night with a woman and execute her in the morning. To avoid this, Scheherazade tells him a tale, but leaves part of it unfinished, thus gaining the king's interest and insuring her survival for another day so she can finish the tale. Being clever, she never finishes it, but keeps it continuously going, until the king finally spares her life.
The stories presented here, though often somewhat crude, have great moral lessons to be learned. The serve as a sort of moral reminder as to how a good person should act.
When Richard Burton translated the Nights, he collected as many manuscripts as possible and pieced together the tales. Many had been created centuries earlier, and were often told during gatherings among friends. Burton, through his unparalelled knack for translation, managed to capture all the magic and mystery that are the Arabian Nights.
Besides the delightful stories and good lessons to be learned, the Nights serve another purpose--they provide an intimate look at the culture of the time. By examining their legends, one can gain a basic understanding of how Arabic culture functions. There is as much to be learned about the people who tell these stories as there is from the stories themselves.
I read this book for historical and cultural value, and found it to be abundant in both. Besides that, though, I encountered a mesmerizing set of tales which will be entertaining to any audience, even (after some revision and editing) children.
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The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights (Modern Library Classics)
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