Arabian Nights

The history of Arabian Nights is both long and complex, and to try to actually compare the many translations is more than we can manage. Our goal for this page is to introduce a selection of excellent English retellings, primarily for children. To that end, we're compiling a list of both editors/retellers and illustrators, some of whose illustrations have been reused in various places.

Sir Richard Burton compiled one of the most comprehensive collections of the tales (1001 stories in ten volumes, then six supplemental volumes!). Reprints are of necessity selections, so it's important to evaluate which tales are included.

Interestingly, Some of the stories commonly associated with the Arabian Nights—particularly "Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp" and "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves"—were not part of the collection in its original Arabic versions but were added to the collection by Frenchman Antoine Galland after he heard them from the Syrian[5][6] Maronite Christian storyteller Hanna Diab on Diab's visit to Paris.[7] Other stories, such as "The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor", had an independent existence before being added to the collection. 

Modern translations[edit]

Main article: Translations of One Thousand and One Nights

Sindbad the sailor and Ali Baba and the forty thieves by William Strang, 1896

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 work, Les Mille et une nuits, contes arabes traduits en français ('The 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" (as well as several other lesser-known tales) appeared first in Galland's translation and cannot be found in any of the original manuscripts. He wrote that he heard them from the Christian Maronite storyteller Hanna Diab during Diab's visit to Paris. 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.

As scholars were looking for the presumed "complete" and "original" form of the Nights, they naturally turned to the more voluminous texts of the Egyptian recension, which soon came to be viewed as the "standard version". The first translations of this kind, such as that of Edward Lane (1840, 1859), were bowdlerized. Unabridged and unexpurgated translations were made, first by John Payne, under the title The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night (1882, nine volumes), and then by Sir Richard Francis Burton, entitled The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (1885, ten volumes) – the latter was, according to some assessments, partially based on the former, leading to charges of plagiarism.[48][49]

In view of the sexual imagery in the source texts (which Burton emphasized even further, especially by adding extensive footnotes and appendices on Oriental sexual mores[49]) and the strict Victorian laws on obscene material, both of these translations were printed as private editions for subscribers only, rather than published in the usual manner. Burton's original 10 volumes were followed by a further six (seven in the Baghdad Edition and perhaps others) entitled The Supplemental Nights to the Thousand Nights and a Night, which were printed between 1886 and 1888. It has, however, been criticized for its "archaic language and extravagant idiom" and "obsessive focus on sexuality" (and has even been called an "eccentric ego-trip" and a "highly personal reworking of the text").[49]

Later versions of the Nights include that of the French doctor J. C. Mardrus, issued from 1898 to 1904. It was translated into English by Powys Mathers, and issued in 1923. Like Payne's and Burton's texts, it is based on the Egyptian recension and retains the erotic material, indeed expanding on it, but it has been criticized for inaccuracy.[48]

Muhsin Mahdi's 1984 Leiden edition, based on the Galland Manuscript, was rendered into English by Husain Haddawy (1990).[50] This translation has been praised as "very readable" and "strongly recommended for anyone who wishes to taste the authentic flavour of those tales."[46] An additional second volume of Arabian nights translated by Haddawy, composed of popular tales not present in the Leiden edition, was published in 1995.[51] Both volumes were the basis for a single-volume reprint of selected tales of Haddawy's translations.[52]

In 2008 a new English translation was published by Penguin Classics in three volumes. It is translated by Malcolm C. Lyons and Ursula Lyons with introduction and annotations by Robert Irwin. This is the first complete translation of the Macnaghten or Calcutta II edition (Egyptian recension) since Burton's. It contains, in addition to the standard text of 1001 Nights, the so-called "orphan stories" of Aladdin and Ali Baba as well as an alternative ending to The seventh journey of Sindbad from Antoine Galland's original French. As the translator himself notes in his preface to the three volumes, "[N]o attempt has been made to superimpose on the translation changes that would be needed to 'rectify' ... accretions, ... repetitions, non sequiturs and confusions that mark the present text," and the work is a "representation of what is primarily oral literature, appealing to the ear rather than the eye."[53] The Lyons translation includes all the poetry (in plain prose paraphrase) but does not attempt to reproduce in English the internal rhyming of some prose sections of the original Arabic. Moreover, it streamlines somewhat and has cuts. In this sense it is not, as claimed, a complete translation.

Versions:

Robert Louis Stevenson

Edward William Lane (translator), Joseph Smith (illustrator)

Laurence Housman (Edmund Dulac)

William Heath Robinson

Rene Bull

1898: Andrew Lang, Vera Bock

1923: Padraic Colum (Eric Pape or Lynd Ward)

1946: Earle Goodenow (illustrator)

1951: E. Dixon (Joan Kiddell-Monroe)

1957: Amabel Williams-Ellis (Pauline Baynes)

1963: Mamoru Funai (illustrator)

Amabel Williams-Ellis, illustrated by Pauline D. Baynes

1980s: Brian Alderson, illustrated by Michael Foreman

1982: Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Stephen Lavis

Gustaf Tenggren

Kate Douglas Wiggin & Nora A. Smith, illustrated by Maxfield Parrish

Orton Lowe

Deborah Nourse Lattimore

N.J. Dawood

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42 Items found Print
Aladdin and Other Favorite Arabian Nights Stories
Dover Children's Thrift Classics
by Philip Smith, editor
from Dover Publications
Eastern Fairy Tales for 3rd-6th grade
$2.55 $1.70 (3 in stock)
Aladdin and Other Tales from the Arabian Nights
Puffin Classics
by N.J. Dawood
from Puffin Books
Fairy Tales for 2nd-6th grade
$6.79
Aladdin and Other Tales from the Arabian Nights
by William Heath Robinson, illustrator
from Everyman's Library
for 6th-9th grade
in Everyman's Library (Location: FIC-EVERY)
$15.26
Alex O'Donnell and the 40 CyberThieves
by Regina Doman
from Chesterton Press
for 7th-10th grade
Arabian Nights
Illustrated Junior Library Series 4
by Earle Goodenow, illustrator
from Grosset & Dunlap
Eastern Fairy Tales for 4th-8th grade
Arabian Nights
by Sir Richard Burton, trans.
from Bracken Books
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
Arabian Nights
Illustrated Junior Library Series 2
by Earle Goodenow, illustrator
from Grosset & Dunlap
Eastern Fairy Tales for 4th-8th grade
Arabian Nights
Companion Library
by Anonymous
from Grosset & Dunlap
for 3rd-6th grade
Arabian Nights
Scribner Illustrated Classics
by Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora A. Smith, editors, illustrated by Maxfield Parrish
from Charles Scribner's Sons
Eastern Fairy Tales for 9th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
Arabian Nights
International Collectors Library
by Sir Richard Burton, illustrated by Steele Savage
from International Collectors Library
for 9th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
Arabian Nights
Illustrated Junior Library Series 1
by Earle Goodenow, illustrator
from Grosset & Dunlap
Eastern Fairy Tales for 4th-8th grade
Arabian Nights
Calla Editions
by Rene Bull (Illustrator)
Reprint from Dover Publications
for 4th-12th grade
Arabian Nights
by Orton Lowe
from John C. Winston
for 3rd-6th grade
Arabian Nights
Children's Classics
by Rene Bull, illustrator
from Dilithium Press, Ltd.
for 3rd-8th grade
Arabian Nights
Scribner Illustrated Classics
by Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora A. Smith, editors, illustrated by Maxfield Parrish
from Charles Scribner's Sons
Eastern Fairy Tales for 9th-Adult
in Scribner Illustrated Classics (Location: FIC-SCRIB)
$29.99
Arabian Nights
by Richard Burton
from Canterbury Classics
for 10th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
Arabian Nights
by Padraic Colum
from Aladdin Paperbacks
for 4th-8th grade
Arabian Nights
Illustrated Junior Library Series 3
by Earle Goodenow, illustrator
from Grosset & Dunlap
Eastern Fairy Tales for 4th-8th grade
Arabian Nights
Books of Wonder
by Brian Alderson, illustrated by Michael Foreman
from HarperCollins
for 4th-8th grade
Arabian Nights
Illustrated Junior Library Series 2
by Earle Goodenow, illustrator
from Grosset & Dunlap
Eastern Fairy Tales for 4th-8th grade
Arabian Nights
Dent & Dutton Illustrated Series
by E. Dixon, illustrated by Joan Kiddell-Monroe
from E.P. Dutton & Co.
for 9th-Adult
Arabian Nights
by Amabel Williams-Ellis, illustrated by Pauline Baynes
from Blackie & Son LTD.
for 9th-Adult
Arabian Nights
by Laurence Housman, illustrated by Edmund Dulac
from George H. Doran Company
for 9th-Adult
Arabian Nights - Audiobook
by Jim Weiss
from Well-Trained Mind Press
for 3rd-8th grade
in Audio Books & Dramas (Location: CD-AUDIO)
Arabian Nights - Coloring Book
Dover Coloring Books
by John Green
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-6th grade
in Dover Coloring Books (Location: COL-DOV)
$3.36
Arabian Nights Entertainments
by Andrew Lang
from Dover Publications
for 3rd-5th grade
$12.71
Arabian Nights I
Signet Classics
by Richard Burton (Translator), Jack Zipes (Adapter)
from Signet Classics
Eastern Fairy Tales for 9th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$8.46
Arabian Nights II
Signet Classics
by Anonymous, Sir Richard Burton (Translator), Jack Zipes (Adapter)
from Signet Classics
Eastern Fairy Tales for 9th-Adult
in Medieval Literature (Location: LIT2-MED)
$7.61
Arabian Nights: Three Tales
by Deborah Nourse Lattimore
from HarperCollins
for Preschool-2nd grade
Between Two Ends
by David Ward
from Amulet Books
for 4th-8th grade
in Fantasy Fiction (Location: FIC-FAN)
$6.38 (1 in stock)
Blue Fairy Book
by Andrew Lang, editor
from Dover Publications
Fairy Tales for 3rd-8th grade
$12.71
ECL #08: Arabian Nights
Educator Classic Library #8
by Andrew Lang
Complete and Unabridged Edition from Classic Press
First Book of Tales of Ancient Araby
First Books
by Charles Mozley
from Franklin Watts
for 1st-4th grade
in Vintage & Collectible (Location: VIN-COL)
$5.10 (1 in stock)
Medieval History - Advanced Intermediate and Junior High Guide
by Rebecca Manor
3rd edition from Beautiful Feet Books
for 5th-8th grade
in Beautiful Feet Books (Location: HISCUR-BFB)
$24.95
Medieval History - Senior Guide
by Rebecca Manor
from Beautiful Feet Books
for 9th-12th grade
in Beautiful Feet Books (Location: HISCUR-BFB)
$27.95 $19.00 (1 in stock)
New Arabian Nights
Arcadia
by Robert Louis Stevenson
from Arcadia House
for 8th-Adult
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
One Thousand and One Arabian Nights
by Geraldine McCaughrean
from Oxford University
for 11th-Adult
$12.71 $8.50 (2 in stock)
Shadow Spinner
by Susan Fletcher
from Aladdin Paperbacks
for 5th-8th grade
Sinbad the Sailor
by Edmund Dulac, Illustrator
from Crescent Books
for Kindergarten-6th grade
in Picture Books (Location: PICTURE)
Stories from the Arabian Nights
Junior Deluxe Editions
by Retold by A.E. Housman, illustrated by Girard Goodenow
from Grosset & Dunlap
for 4th-9th grade
Tales from the Arabian Nights
Reader's Digest World's Best Reading
by Andrew Lang, with Edmund Dulac illustrations
from Reader's Digest
for 4th-9th grade
in 19th Century Literature (Location: LIT6-19)
$7.65 (1 in stock)
Tenggren's Golden Tales from the Arabian Nights
by Gustaf Tenggren
from Golden Books
for 1st-6th grade