The Arabian Nights: A Companion

The Arabian Nights: A Companion

by Robert Irwin
     
 

The book of The Arabian Nights has become a synonym for the fabulous and the exotic. Every child is familiar with the stories of Aladdin, Sinbad the Sailor and Ali Baba. Yet very few people have a clear idea of when the book was written or what exactly it is. Far from being children's stories, The Arabian Nights contains hundreds of narratives of all kinds - fables,… See more details below

Overview

The book of The Arabian Nights has become a synonym for the fabulous and the exotic. Every child is familiar with the stories of Aladdin, Sinbad the Sailor and Ali Baba. Yet very few people have a clear idea of when the book was written or what exactly it is. Far from being children's stories, The Arabian Nights contains hundreds of narratives of all kinds - fables, epics, erotica, debates, fairy tales, political allegories, mystical anecdotes and comedies. It is a labyrinth of stories and of stories within stories. The Arabian Nights: A Companion guides the reader through this labyrinth, but above all uses the stories as a key to the social history and the counter-culture of the medieval Near East and the world of the storyteller, the snake charmer, the burglar, the sorcerer, the drug-addict, the treasure hunter and the adulterer.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this learned and exotic companion to the Arabian Nights, Irwin, a novelist and the author of The Middle East in the Middle Ages (Southern Illinois Univ. Pr., 1986), provides a history of its origins, translations, and textual editors; a treatment of the various literary approaches to the text (structuralist, folklorist, etc.); and insight into the work as social history. Irwin has, admittedly, concentrated on the "seedy and bizarre" aspects of the tales, asserting that the Arabic world of criminals, sorcerers, drug-takers, and adulterers is far less known than the edifying world of miracle-working holy men and sages. Though the Arab world long viewed the Nights as folk literature, in the West it has continued to exert enormous influence on diverse writers, giving way, only in the 20th century, to its rival genres, science fiction and fantasy. Irwin's soundly researched and provocative work is highly recommended for academics and interested readers of Arabic social history and literature.-Marie L. Lally, Alabama Sch. of Mathematics & Science, Mobile
From the Publisher

"... an enthralling cascade of the arcane and the exotic."--Peter Kemp, Sunday Times
"... story after story, wonder upon wonder. This monumental, infinitely faceted gem should be every writer's bedtime sampler."--Michael Moorcock, New Statesman & Society
"A generous and erudite book...We're in the company of someone who loves The Arabian Nights, and who has generously shared that love with us through this companion."--Michele Roberts, Independent on Sunday
"Matching The Arabian Nights' scope and enchantment with erudition and wit, Irwin explores its elusive kingdom of stories, delving into the vast work's textual genesis, cultural history, and literary legacy."--Kirkus Reviews on 1994 Edition
"Superlative...just the sort of relaxed, informative book that Edumund Wilson might have written had he grown interested in the Middle East and its early literature."--Michael Dirda, Washington Post

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140098631
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
05/01/1996
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
5.14(w) x 7.76(h) x 0.66(d)

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