Arabian Nights (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

The Arabian Nights, by Anonymous, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of ...

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The Arabian Nights (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

The Arabian Nights, by Anonymous, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Once upon a time, the name Baghdad conjured up visions of the most magical, romantic city on earth, where flying carpets carried noble thieves off on wonderful adventures, and vicious viziers and beautiful princesses mingled with wily peasants and powerful genies. This is the world of the Arabian Nights, a magnificent collection of ancient tales from Arabia, India, and Persia.

The tales—often stories within stories—are told by the sultana Scheherazade, who relates them as entertainments for her jealous and murderous husband, hoping to keep him amused and herself alive. In addition to the more fantastic tales which have appeared in countless bowdlerized editions for children and have been popularized by an entire genre of Hollywood films, this collection includes far more complex, meaningful, and erotic stories that deal with a wide range of moral, social, and political issues.

Though early Islamic critics condemned the tales’ “vulgarity” and worldliness, the West has admired their robust, bawdy humor and endless inventiveness since the first translations appeared in Europe in the eighteenth century. Today these stories stand alongside the fables of Aesop, the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, and the folklore of Hans Christian Andersen as some of the Western literary tradition’s most-quoted touchstones.

Muhsin J. Al-Musawi is Professor of Arabic Studies at Columbia University in New York City and University Professor at the American University of Sharjah. He is the editor of the Journal of Arabic Literature and the author of twenty-seven books in Arabic and English. He was the recipient in 2002 of the Owais Award in literary criticism, the most prestigious nongovernmental literary award in the Arab World.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593082819
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 2/1/2007
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Edition description: Illustrate
  • Pages: 736
  • Sales rank: 101,558
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Muhsin J. Al-Musawi is Professor of Arabic Studies at Columbia University in New York City and University Professor at the American University of Sharjah. He is the editor of the Journal of Arabic Literature and the author of twenty-seven books in Arabic and English. He was the recipient in 2002 of the Owais Award in literary criticism, the most prestigious nongovernmental literary award in the Arab World.

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Read an Excerpt

From Muhsin Al-Musawi’s Introduction to The Arabian Nights

Dress and other types of codes that signify profession are reflected in the Arabian Nights. The entertaining cycle of the barber and his brothers (part four) is informative about social manners and practices. It takes us away from the supernatural and from courtly life and involves us in the domains of professionals and functionaries. Even merchants—despite their enormous presence in the tales and the appreciation of their vocation in Islam—were not routinely accepted in upper-class or courtly society. They had to pass through a number of trials— including, at times, mutilation—to prove their merit, refinement, and readiness to suffer for love. Between the marketplace and the sovereign’s courtiers and entourage, there is usually a physical distance, as well as social, moral, and psychological distances. Only when a maid or lady decides to come to the market, upon hearing of a charming young merchant who can make a good companion or husband, is a rite of passage possible, but never without some sacrifice on the male’s part.
There are different transgressions, however, that can upset the whole order. Storytellers take their revenge upon upper-class society in various ways. Imagining the wealthy households and buildings based on the little glimpses they get from their fellow scribes who have access to these wealthy districts, storytellers write about the sumptuousness of the lives of the wealthy and the expenditures they lavish on lovers from lower stations. They also depict women from these households who cannot control their sensual appetites. Their revenge takes place whenever they depict a black slave as a companion to a queen: In the frame story this is exactly what sours the sultan’s worldview and attitude to womankind, and what brings on his melancholy and morbidity, and in “The History of the Young King of the Black Isles,” the queen prefers a crippled black slave who lives among rubbish mounds to the king and his palace. Yet the tales—composite in nature, of different origins and formations—are not of one piece in the ways they exact revenge for racism or social inequality. In many narratives, there is an underlying preference for whiteness that runs counter to Islamic preaching as religion; the Prophet’s last speech specifies that there is no merit for any in Islam other than piety. The young merchant from Baghdad speaks of the barber as follows, however: “Although he was born in a country where the complexion of the people is white, he looks like an Ethiopian; but his mind is of a dye deeper and more horrible than his visage.” In the end, the stories’ many redactors are of so many conflicting views and attitudes that there is no uniform treatment of race, religion, and gender. Villainy, cruelty, and selfishness, as well as licentiousness, can be social aspects among all races. The same is true of other behavioral patterns, as is apparent in the barber’s brothers’ narrative cycle. he same cycle shows a tendency among governors to banish unwanted citizens or travelers as if to sustain an idealistic vision of their urban life. Yet, these seeming whims and idiosyncrasies on part of governors and citizens are, after all, the whims of the storyteller who would like to move to another story and to another character of more adventures and troubles.
In a word, the Arabian Nights is meant to entertain, to be enjoyed as good reading; but for people who are interested in other issues, there are many details and views that invite discussion. Indeed, the tales’ reading history in Europe tells us much about the unique interests and concerns of each age. Perhaps it is the kind of book that operates as a mirror where people are pleased to see reflections of their own thoughts.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 382 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(107)

4 Star

(96)

3 Star

(82)

2 Star

(42)

1 Star

(55)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 384 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 4, 2011

    Edited for children

    This is a heavily-edited, heavily-censored, public domain version for "young readers" from the 1800s or something. The Barnes and Noble website falsely calls it a translation by Haddawy. Please don?t bother reading Arabian Nights in a bad translation. Stick with either Haddawy (best) or early Burton editions (note that his widow heavily censored them after his death, look for early editions). If you need a childrens version, look for a modern one that is at least readable.

    14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2007

    Arabian Nights-sheer beauty

    I enjoy the Barnes & Noble classics. Arabian Nights gives off a captivating look into the Arabic world of literary fantasy. As the story, progresses, one runs into thieves, djinns, and parables of wisedom. Many remember classic tales, such as Aladdin, Ali Baba & The Forty-Thieves, but it is the storyteller, whose fate lies in the hands of entertaining a sultan who wishes to execute her, that brings out the myth of Arabian Nights.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2007

    A dad and reader of classics to his son

    I own the entire series of this, and it's not a story or stories - it's a lesson and rules on how to be good. Some is too intense for children but the condensed form is suitable for anyone. This is one of the classics of all classics to be brought to worldwide attention by Sir Richard Burton (not the actor). It ranks with Shakespeare, Dante, Boccoccio, Chaucer and Milton / as well as with recent Margret and H.A.Rey (Curious George) Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne) George E. Peterson, Jr. (Wonderful Stories from Skog Forest) Peter Rabbit (Beatrix Potter) and any Dr Seuss.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2010

    Readable classic

    I bought the Haddaway translation while searching for a text to teach in a college world literature class. I taught 1,000 Nights Plus One last semester for the first time, and students loved it. Unfortunately, in our anthology we had only a few excerpts. This version is the best I've found for clarity and readability, and will offer the entire text rather than snippets.

    The tales of Shahrazad go way beyond what most students expect (Alladin, Sinbad, that's about it). The rich, wondrous, bawdy, funny, terrifying, magical stories in Arabian Nights delight readers--especially when they're told in muscular, vivid language. This translation is stellar!

    PS--this is NOT a kids' book!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 14, 2011

    Lovely Pictures, Saccharine Translation

    The Arabian Nights / 9781411431782

    This is a beautifully formatted member of the B&N classic series. The pictures are gorgeous, and the abridgment of the stories is well done and designed to gloss over the more boring tales in the large collection. But the translation has been watered down, presumably for children, and lacks the sex, violence, and overall punch of the original tales. From the get-go, the Sultan decides to marry a new girl every night and strangle her in the morning because he saw his wife "conversing" with another man. This change removes the sultan's real grief, makes him look more petty than insane, and removes the healing process of the tales. I understand why the translation was made -- for the children -- but I wish B&N had chosen an alternative translation for their classics series.

    ~ Ana Mardoll

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2009

    Wonderful stories; definitive translation

    This is the absolute best, clearest and most comprehensible translation of the Arabian Nights that you will find. While the famous Burton translation has gained lots of followers over the years, this translation is incredible as Haddawy brings the cultural understanding to the translation, which is sadly lacking in Burton's. Very definitive.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 4, 2009

    2.5 stars

    I am enjoying it to a point, but the stories are just too long to really hold my interest very long. I cannot read more than 1 story at a time without putting in down.

    3 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Recommended- For those who love a warm and fuzzy message with a side of religion

    My sisters grew up in Morocco and remembered hearing these stories from their grandma. They are in high school now and it is fun reading the stories with them, sharing a memory of their childhood. The book is a collection of short stories and all of them have a message to them, sort of like Aesops fables. They teach us to be kind and courteous to everyone despite our differences and also to have a reverence to God.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful, magical tales

    I got this book for my fifteenth birthday and I devoured it. I was finished within two weeks and I want more! These stories bring the ancient Middle East to life with their far-fetched tales that make the Brothers Grimm seem like ameteurs. Scheherazade's stories of Sinbad the Sailor, Ali-Babba, Aladdin, genies, sultans, and dozens of mythical creatures create a strange and wonderful world. The collection has good lessons and is one of the most interesting things i've read in a long time.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2014

    Blah blah blah

    BORING!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2014

    Arabian Nights

    The book is made up of many short stories told by a third person. All the stories are very interesting with many surprises. The book will hold your intrest and make a great read! A+++++

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  • Posted July 10, 2013

    I have this book in paperback. The stories are interesting but t

    I have this book in paperback. The stories are interesting but there are so many of them and they are related to each other. So I was reading and reading tof finally grt to the final story and then alas! There is NO final story!! They just relate in a few sentences what happenedin the final story but you can't understand anything because you haven't read it. So I had to google it. What is the point of reading all those stories if there is no concluding story? They just decided not to print it! Unbelievable! I've only read 3 parts but it really put me off that they just decided not to print the main story to which all others were leading to. They did it twice already and I've only finished 3 parts. 

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2012

    U

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2012

    We get it!

    The white kid becomes a man and looks out for this witch. He overcomes his mom and adopted brother. Blah vlah. The story is just SO BORING! ANYONE AGREE?!

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2012

    BAD

    Terribble

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2012

    It wad good

    Well i have read this book and to tell you the truth it had some well interesting stories in it. Some were adventure others were kinda about passion, and others were about morals these stories were really short stories told in another story. Not really my favorite but thats just me. You might like it overall i did

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2011

    Classic Stories

    As much as I thought I was aware of the stories in this classic, I was surprised about how much of it was composed of tales that I had never seen or heard were part of it. Before reading The Arabian Nights I didn't even realize the story was frame in frame. The matter of fact way some of the characters describe killing is actually kind of comical. Some of the tales within the book are just complete bores. Aladdin was actually my favorite, even though it isn't thought of as part of the canon.

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  • Posted October 9, 2011

    Long, Hard To Stay Focused On

    The stories aren't boring, but you have to read them in chunks otherwise you will get bored. I personally found it hard to stay focused throughtout most of the book if I read more than a few pages. Though the stories contain lessons and morals, they seem very repetitive.

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  • Posted July 8, 2011

    Best Read In Chunks

    These are good stories, but I couldn't read the whole thing at once. It just didn't hold my attention.

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  • Posted March 28, 2011

    the boring book

    This book is so boring!

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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