The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights

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Overview

Full of mischief, valor, ribaldry, and romance, The Arabian Nights has enthralled readers for centuries. These are the tales that saved the life of Shahrazad, whose husband, the king, executed each of his wives after a single night of marriage. Beginning an enchanting story each evening, Shahrazad always withheld the ending: A thousand and one nights later, her life was spared forever.

This volume reproduces the 1932 Modern Library edition, for which Bennett A. Cerf chose the ...

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The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights

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Overview

Full of mischief, valor, ribaldry, and romance, The Arabian Nights has enthralled readers for centuries. These are the tales that saved the life of Shahrazad, whose husband, the king, executed each of his wives after a single night of marriage. Beginning an enchanting story each evening, Shahrazad always withheld the ending: A thousand and one nights later, her life was spared forever.

This volume reproduces the 1932 Modern Library edition, for which Bennett A. Cerf chose the most famous and representative stories from Sir Richard F. Burton's multivolume translation, and includes Burton's extensive and acclaimed explanatory notes. These tales, including Alaeddin; or, the Wonderful Lamp, Sinbad the Seaman and Sinbad the Landsman, and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, have entered into the popular imagination, demonstrating that Shahrazad's spell remains unbroken.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[A] book...that captivates in childhood, and still delights in age."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812972146
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/1/2004
  • Series: Modern Library Mass Market Paperbacks Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 1104
  • Sales rank: 278,908
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.87 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

A. S. Byatt is the author of The Biographer's Tale, Elementals, and the Booker Prize winning novel Possession, among other books. She lives in London.

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Read an Excerpt

alf laylah wa laylah.

In the Name of Allah, the Compassionating, the Compassionate!

praise be to Allah, the beneficient king, the creator of the universe, lord of the three worlds, who set up the firmament without pillars in its stead, and who stretched out the earth even as a bed, and grace, and prayer, blessing be upon our Lord Mohammed, lord of apostolic men, and upon his family and companion-train, prayer and blessings enduring and grace which unto the day of doom shall remain, amen! 'o thou of the three worlds sovereign!

And afterwards. Verily the works and words of those gone before us have become instances and examples to men of our modern day, that folk may view what admonishing chances befel other folk and may therefrom take warning; and that they may peruse the annals of antique peoples and all that hath betided them, and be thereby ruled and restrained: Praise, therefore, be to Him who hath made the histories of the Past an admonition unto the Present!

Now of such instances are the tales called "A Thousand Nights and a Night," together with their far-famed legends and wonders. Therein it is related (but Allah is All-knowing of His hidden things and All-ruling and All-honoured and All-giving and All-gracious and All-merciful!)

1. that, in tide of yore and in time long gone before, there was a King of the Kings of the Banu Sasan in the Islands of India and China, a Lord of armies and guards and servants and dependents.

2. He left only two sons, one in the prime of manhood and the other yet a youth, while both were Knights and Braves, albeit the elder was a doughtier horseman than the younger. So he succeeded to the empire; when he ruled the land and lorded it over his lieges with justice so exemplary that he was beloved by all the peoples of his capital and of his kingdom. His name was King Shahryar,

3. and he made his younger brother, Shah Zaman hight, King of Samarcand in Barbarian-land. These two ceased not to abide in their several realms and the law was ever carried out in their dominions; and each ruled his own kingdom, with equity and fair-dealing to his subjects, in extreme solace and enjoyment; and this condition continually endured for a score of years. But at the end of the twentieth twelve month the elder King yearned for a sight of his younger brother and felt that he must look upon him once more. So he took counsel with his Wazir

4. about visiting him, but the Minister, finding the project unadvisable, recommended that a letter be written and a present be sent under his charge to the younger brother with an invitation to visit the elder. Having accepted this advice the King forthwith bade prepare handsome gifts, such as horses with saddles of gem-encrusted gold; Mamelukes, or white slaves; beautiful handmaids, high-breasted virgins, and splendid stuffs and costly. He then wrote a letter to Shah Zaman expressing his warm love and great wish to see him, ending with these words, "We therefore hope of the favour and affection of the beloved brother that he will condescend to bestir himself and turn his face us-wards."

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Table of Contents

Story of King Shahryar and his Brother 3
1 The Fisherman and the Jinni 31
2 The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad 58
3 The Tale of the Three Apples 152
4 Tale of Nur Al-Din Ali and his Son Badr Al-Din Hasan 162
5 Tale of Ghanim Bin Ayyub, the Distraught, the Thrall O'Love 220
6 The Tale of the Birds and Beasts and the Carpenter 254
7 The Hermits 266
8 The Tale of Kamar Al-Zaman 270
9 Hatim of the Tribe of Tayy 350
10 Tale of Ma'an Son of Zaidah and the Badawi 352
11 The City of Many-Columned Iram and Abdullah Son of Abi Kalibah 354
12 The Sweep and the Noble Lady 360
13 Ali the Persian 365
14 The Man Who Stole the Dish of Gold Wherein the Dog Ate 370
15 The Ruined Man Who Became Rich Again through a Dream 374
16 The Ebony Horse 376
17 How Abu Hasan Brake Wind 409
18 The Angel of Death with the Proud King and the Devout Man 412
19 Sindbad the Seaman and Sindbad the Landsman 414
20 The City of Brass 491
21 The Lady and Her Five Suitors 529
22 Judar and His Brethren 538
23 Julnar the Sea-Born and Her Son King Badr Basim of Persia 584
24 Khalifah the Fisherman of Baghdad 631
25 Abu Kir the Dyer and Abu Sir the Barber 668
26 The Sleeper and the Waker 700
27 Alaeddin; or, the Wonderful Lamp 731
28 Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves 838
29 Ma'Aruf the Cobbler and his Wife Fatimah 869
Conclusion 922
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Reading Group Guide

1. To the minds of a Western audience, The Arabian Nights is the most important work we have from medieval Arabic. Its influence can be seen throughout Western culture, from references in Jane Eyre to the plots of cartoons. What are some examples of the direct influence The Arabian Nights has had on Western literature or culture? Why did readers, then and now, enjoy it?

2. Burton has been quoted as having said, "The main difficulty, however, is to erase the popular impression that the 'Nights' is a book for babies, a 'classic for children'; whereas its lofty morality, its fine character-painting, its artful development of the story, and its original snatches of rare poetry, fit it for the reading of men and women, and these, too, of no puerile or vulgar wit. In fact, its prime default is that it flies too high." How does one account for the fact that, historically, The Arabian Nights has been seen as a children's book? Is it more appropriate for adults than for children given its content and depth? What are the main attributes that make it suitable for either audience?

3. The structure of The Arabian Nights is an entire study in itself. Debate has raged over the tales' relation to one another and to the overall structure of the work. Is the narrative structure effective? Are the tales related to one another or are they simply a mixture of unrelated stories bound by a narrative created solely for that purpose? How important is the setting of The Arabian Nights to the interpretation of each individual tale?

4. One of the most important moral concepts in The Arabian Nights is that of fidelity. From the very beginning of the work, fidelity is the driving force that binds the brothers together and that provides the backdrop for the telling of the tales. Fidelity of all kinds is explored in The Arabian Nights: that between a husband and wife, between brothers, and between a lord and his servant. Describe different depictions of fidelity in specific tales and explain how they are central to the advancement of the plot and the characters. Why is such a high premium placed on fidelity throughout the book?

5. Morals and ethics are among the most important subjects dealt with throughout The Arabian Nights. Describe the moral system as it is depicted throughout the course of the book, giving examples of important moral concepts in specific tales. How do the morals serve to propel the plot of the tales? How can one reconcile the bawdiness of these tales with the serious moral and ethical messages conveyed? Does the overt sexuality and "inappropriate" content reduce in any way the impact or importance of these moral messages?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 43 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 43 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 29, 2011

    Poorly Formatted

    This version of the classic collection of stories is a big old mess. It is basically a solid block of text. There aren't any meaningful divisions between stories at all, and it's a monster pain in the rear to read. I am looking for another version now, as this one is intensely unreadable.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2010

    extremely difficult to navigate

    This is an all around terrible format for the nook... it's hard to go from story to story

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    TALES To Escape Death

    Arabian Nights is a collection of stories-short stories of sort-that was told to a King in the East so the storyteller can escape or prolong death which was actually a punishment for a misdeed done. These stories were told at night tot he king, thus, Arabian nights. The storyteller ends everytime morning came and the king, went to bed.
    These stories are a mammoth of events that happened in the Middle East some years back. They are magical and fairy tale like. I have not read these stories seriously before, until lately when I got a god copy of the book in electronic form. My favorite is Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, the grandest of them all. I also like The Flying Carpet. For those who like a glimpse of Middle eastern culture and literature, these stories is the best!!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2000

    burton does a great job in interpreting the classic tale

    This is great tale that broadens your veiw of the large world that we live in. It gives you a cultural idea of how the eastern people communicated and lived through their story telling.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2012

    I've heard of this

    I have actually heard of this book but once i got a preivew of it the book was actually very very boring in my opinion

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2014

    ~

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2014

    Amazing

    The arabian nughts are mesmeruzing

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2013

    Hazeltail

    Snifed for prey. Tasting a thrush on a very low tree branch, she stalked upto it and pounced silently, taking it down and killing it with a swift bite to the neck.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2013

    Cinderheart

    Hi little kit! Whats your name?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2013

    Dovewing/Kittypet

    Dovewing-Came back from the moon pool her fur bristling
    Kittypet-Fire or Black eather one

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    Hunting Grounds

    ...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2012

    Complete

    15331 pages. Hav not read yet, but am glad that I bought the complete version rather than a selection.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted September 14, 2009

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    Posted April 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted April 11, 2010

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    Posted January 7, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted September 6, 2011

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    Posted October 23, 2010

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    Posted November 15, 2010

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 43 Customer Reviews

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