The Classics Club Spin #3 – Results

ClassicsClubThe Classics Club results are in and unfortunately, the unlucky number for me is 4 which means I will be reading The Arabian Nights Entertainment by Andrew Lang ((also known in other translations as the One Thousand and One Nights). The last thing I wanted to do was read another collection of fairy tales and folklore, but obviously the universe has other plans.

The Arabian Nights begins with the famous tale of Scheherazade, the wife of a king who delays her own execution by telling the king a fascinating story every night, but ending with a cliff hanger so he will keep her around for another day and another story. The stories make up the collection of the book and include Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor.

The stories in the Arabian Nights are believed to originate from Arabic, Persian, Indian, Egyptian and Mesopotamian folklore and literature, dating back to the 8th or 9th century. The collection was translated over the centuries in Persian and Arabic, but not introduced to a Western audience until the 19th century when it was translated in French by Antoine Galland.

My collection I will be reading is edited by Andrew Lang who was a Scottish journalist, poet, critic, historian and collector of fairy tales and folklore. He mentions in his preface how the stories have changed over the centuries in their translations, but how he hopes the imaginations of children will get fired up and they will be as excited as he was reading the tales as a boy.

In this book “The Arabian Nights” are translated from the French version of Monsieur Galland, who dropped out the poetry and a great deal of what the Arabian authors thought funny, though it seems wearisome to us. In this book the stories are shortened here and there, and omissions are made of pieces only suitable for Arabs and old gentlemen. The translations are by the writers of the tales in the Fairy Books, and the pictures are by Mr. Ford.

I can remember reading “The Arabian Nights” when I was six years old, in dirty yellow old volumes of small type with no pictures, and I hope children who read them with Mr. Ford’s pictures will be as happy as I was then in the company of Aladdin and Sindbad the Sailor.


7 comments on “The Classics Club Spin #3 – Results

  1. Ekaterina
    August 22, 2013

    Oh, poor you! Mine is 3700 pages long, and I’m still in night 789… When I started reading, I was surprised that “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp” and “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” are actually NOT included in the nights pattern, they are sometimes called “supplementary” tales.

    As the absence of so famous tales baffled me in the beginning, so I checked Wikipedia, and here’s what I found:
    “The first European version (1704–1717) was translated into French by Antoine Galland from an Arabic text of the Syrian recension and other sources. This 12-volume book, Les Mille et une nuits, contes arabes traduits en français (“Thousand and one nights, Arab stories translated into French”), included stories that were not in the original Arabic manuscript. “Aladdin’s Lamp” and “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” appeared first in Galland’s translation and cannot be found in any of the original manuscripts. He wrote that he heard them from a Syrian Christian storyteller from Aleppo, a Maronite scholar whom he called “Hanna Diab.” Galland’s version of the Nights was immensely popular throughout Europe, and later versions were issued by Galland’s publisher using Galland’s name without his consent.”

    But Sindbad travels ARE there, somewhere in the middle 🙂

    I hope that some history of translations will cheer you up! As for me, I find it more fascinating than some of the tales 🙂

    Good luck with your reading!!


  2. Ekaterina
    August 22, 2013

    I was also shocked how much the stories are NOT suited for children, with all the sex and dirty jokes and weird euphemisms and Muslim propaganda… But you seem to have an edited version, so you will be spared this 🙂


    • ebookclassics
      August 22, 2013

      Oh wow, it’s so nice that somebody else is reading this book as I thought I might be the only one on the planet. I didn’t realize older translations were like that so I guess I will be lucky to read an edited version. Let’s see how it goes …


  3. I think it’s great that you are going to read this. I wish I had put it on my Classics Club list! I hope you enjoy it 🙂


    • ebookclassics
      August 22, 2013

      Thanks! It’s from my dread list, but I’m determined to read it and try to keep an open mind. Although a big part of me would rather be reading your spin book. 1984 sounds a lot more interesting!


  4. Sam @ Tiny Library
    August 23, 2013

    I read the Burton Arabian Nights a few years ago and it was absolutely amazing! I can understand how it wouldn’t be a great book if you are all fairy-tale-d out though.

    My spin is Out of Africa, which I’m very much looking forward to.


  5. Pingback: The Arabian Nights – Book Review | ebookclassics

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