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A translation of one of the classic Arabian Nights manuscripts, with some familiar stories absent (Aladdin, Sinbad, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves) but lots more, all giving a very vivid picture of a time and a number of places in a world stretching from Egypt to India as a single cultural unit, but centred on Baghdad and Persia. There's a lot of fairly intricate nesting of stories within stories - I think it was four layers deep at one point - but all rather entertaining, with of course some stories displaying the prejudices of the day, but others giving women agency - including the framing narrative. I actually started with the Burton translation, but found it unreadable; this is much better.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 1st, 2015 10:49 am (UTC)
While the Haddawy translation is, I think, incomplete, the reason those stories are missing is that they were actually later additions by European authors, pastiching the style of the Nights.
If you've not read it, Robert Irwin's The Arabian Nights: A Companion is one of the best books about storytelling and history I've ever read.
And yes, Burton's translation is utterly unreadable. I had to read it to write my own Faction Paradox novel (which includes a "lost" extra story from the Nights) and in that version at least I can believe the legend about the Nights that anyone who reads the whole thing will die...
Nov. 1st, 2015 03:57 pm (UTC)
Haddawy also has a version of the familiar stories, though I think I found most of it less compelling than the first volume.

One funny detail I remember noticing is that there seems to be some time-travel going on. Shahrazad's frame story takes place during the Sassanid dynasty, but some of the internal stories are definitely later than that...

Edited at 2015-11-01 03:58 pm (UTC)
Nov. 1st, 2015 05:12 pm (UTC)
Yep; also within the layered stories, some of those at deeper layers are set after their particular framing narrative!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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