Item description for The Arabian Nights (Great Tales) by Richard Francis Burton...
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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Reviews - What do customers think about The Arabian Nights (Great Tales)?
Unpleasantly surprised Apr 22, 2008
I had read the tales of 'Sindabad the Sailor' as a kid. They did seem appropriate for small children and that was my intention when i purchased this edition of the 'Arabian Nights' for my 8 yr old. Luckily for me, i read the first 30-40 pages before the book got into the hands of my child. Although fictional in nature, the book is very adult oriented and presents a higher level of difficulty in reading. The stories depict a very highly Patriarchial culture in the old Islam world and also give us a vivid exploration into classes that were prevalent in the social structure at that time. Overall it is not a quick read, one has to be patient and there are some good tales to be enjoyed.
The good ones are the ones you're familiar with... Jan 14, 2008
This is one of those books you "should" read. An "improving" book, as it were. The stories tend to be repetitive, and the human behavior is wholly illogical at times...but these are fairy tales, of course.
The names of Aladdin, Ali Baba, and Sinbad have penetrated the popular culture, and, unsurprisingly, the stories involving these characters are the best. That leaves plenty of other stories less well-known, and, related to that point, less entertaining for the reader. But one must be prepared at times for a bit of a slog.
The Zipes translation is decent, though at times lapsing waaaaay too far in the direction of contemporary vernacular. We (the royal "we") don't need Victorian-era censorship, but we also don't need any degree of conspicuous pandering to the MTV Generation. Zipes is also guilty of a fair amount of typos, and his Introduction and Afterword are pedantic and rather PC.
But, as alluded to earlier, this compendium of stories has been an influential part of Western culture since the 18th century, and thus deserves a look on that basis alone...and a few of the stories will indeed envelop you.
good Jun 12, 2007
condition of book is really good, but its dimensions are smaller than i expected.
Excellent Nov 2, 2006
Richard Burton's narration is fantastic, the accompanying music adds to the mood, and the selection of tales is also good.
Universal, Timeless Storytelling Sep 25, 2006
The Arabian Nights: Tales from A Thousand and One Nights -translated by Sir Richard F. Burton Though the collection is incomplete (this edition contains only the "most famous and representative" tales from the entirety), the compendium outshines any expectation or foreknowledge of the stories and is choc with the marvelous wit of ancient Arabian storytelling. The stories have an underbidding theme all alike, good is good and evil is evil, Allah is all and always and man and manhood will be sundered, for without fail comes with the tail of every tale "the Destroyer of delights and Severer of societies, the Plunderer of palaces, and the Garnerer of graves." Reminding sundry-reader that, despite diamond caches and throes of love, all is vanity of vanity, and only the story will exist for aught. The structure of each of these stories is thematically similar: a poor man happens on a souterrain of riches, he is espied by someone of evil, foul play ensues, a moon of moons of a beauty entrances one and all, a jinn sneaks out of a signet ring, the enemy is bewitched, and the hero is consummated with love and gold. Or, the reverse. Or, the inverse. But what is unique to each of these stories is the complete freedom of happenstance. A man fishing in a pond nets a monkey. A marooned sailor flies with a giant bird to freedom. A man blind in one eye runs into another blind in one eye and they run into another blind in one eye. Ali-Babba overhears an eponymous password to a storehouse of plunder. Everything and anything goes. As well with the language, in "fairest favour and formous form," Sir Burton spares no joyance of neologism coined, alliteration aligned or rhyme rhymed. The text is bedight with proper consciousness of Shaharazad, "for interest fails in twice told tales," and "Words cannot undo the done," as we are gently and thematically reminded of the bookends: the murderous king and the maiden, Shaharazad's "fictitious" fight for survival. The stories that have so obviously leaked into our culture, Aladdin, Ali-Babba and the Forty Thieves, are so much richer, more profound, and less coddling than our cartooned interpretations (as is also the case with the Grimm and Andersen tales). In the end, it is obvious that nor King nor author nor Queen is the hero. None save the stories themselves and the love of the telling will live on.