Thousand and One Nights. Now First Completely Done into English Prose and Verse

Description

Shown here is the nine-volume edition of Alf laylah wa-laylah (Thousand and one nights), known in the West as the Arabian Nights, translated by British poet John Payne (1842−1916) and privately published by the Villon Society in London in 1882−84. The tales that form the Arabian Nights have their roots many centuries ago in oral storytelling, mystical stories, and folk tales from Persia, Baghdad, Cairo, and India, which were spread by merchants and other travelers on the major trade routes of the East from the ninth century onward. All of the many versions of these stories contain a “frame story.” The frame involves a king, Shahryar, who discovers that his wife has been unfaithful to him, and he kills her. Now distrustful of all women, he marries and kills a new virgin each day. When no more candidates can be found, his vizier’s daughter, Scheherazade, volunteers to marry the king, as she has devised a clever way to save herself. Each evening she begins to tell the king a story, leaving it incomplete and promising to finish it the following night. The stories fascinate the king, who becomes so eager to hear the conclusion each night that he continually delays her execution until at last he abandons his cruel plan. The first edition of the tales to appear in a European language was the translation by French archaeologist and orientalist Antoine Galland (1646−1715), published in 1704−17, later the source of many other translations. The earliest version in English, called The Arabian Nights Entertainment, appeared in the 1800s and was used for translations into German, Italian, Dutch, and Russian. At least two editions were published in India by the mid-19th century. The Bulaq Press, Cairo, edition of 1835 is one of the most important, as it was based on a single manuscript copy. The stories excited Western interest in the East, making it a source of fascination, rendering Aladdin, Sinbad, and genies familiar to households the world over, and inspiring many creative works by musicians, artists, and poets. Among the famous tales in this set are: in Volume One, “The Merchant and The Genie,” “The Fisherman and the Genie,” and “The Three Apples;” Volume Two, “The History of King Omar Ben Ennuman, and his Sons, Sherkan and Zoulmekan,” and the “Story of Taj el Mulouk and the Princess Dunya;” Volume Three, “The Wolf and the Fox,” and “The Thief and His Monkey;” Volume Four, “Caliph Al-Maamum and the Strange Scholar,” and “Al-Malik al-Nasir and the Three Chiefs of Police;” Volume Five, “The Angel of Death with the Proud King and the Devout Man” and the tales of “Sinbad the Porter and Sinbad the Sailor;” Volume Six, “The Bedouin and His Wife” and “Ardeshir and Heyat en Nufous;” Volume Seven, “Julnar of the Sea and Her Son King Badr Basim of Persia,” and the “Story of Prince Seif el Mulouk and the Princess Bediya el Jemal;” Volume Eight, “The Man of Upper Egypt and His Frank Wife” and “Abdallah the Fisherman and Abdallah the Merman;” and Volume Nine, “Aboulhusn of Khorassan” and “Marouf the Cobbler and His Wife Fatimah.” The last volume has an index to all the stories in the set and a dedication to Captain Richard Francis Burton (later Sir Richard Burton, 1821−90).

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

London

Language

Title in Original Language

كتاب ألف ليلة وليلة

Type of Item

Physical Description

volume 1 (xii, 395 pages) ; volume 2 (372 pages) ; volume 3 (viii, 371 pages) ; volume 4 (viii, 324 pages) ; volume 5 (vii, 346 pages) ; volume 6 (viii, 340 pages) ; volume 7, (335 pages) ; volume 8 ( 355 pages) ; volume 9 (392 pages) ; 24 centimeters

References

  1. Jules Bernard, Harry Buxton Forman, and John Payne, “A Note by Buxton Forman and Four Letters of John Payne Relating to the Foundation of The Villon Society and Payne’s Translations,” Studies in English (University of Texas Press), number 22 (1942).
  2. Jules Bernard, Harry Buxton Forman, and John Payne, “A Note by Buxton Forman and Four Letters of John Payne Relating to the Foundation of The Villon Society and Payne’s Translations,” Studies in English (University of Texas Press), number 22 (1942).
  3. “Muslim Journeys | Item #157: Timeline of Publication History: The Arabian Nights,” http://bridgingcultures.neh.gov/muslimjourneys/items/show/157.

Last updated: November 3, 2015