The Arabian Nights Entertainments (Dover Children's Classics)

by Andrew Lang

Paperback, 1969



Local notes

398.2 Lan




Dover Publications (1969), Edition: New impression, Paperback, 424 pages


Juvenile Fiction. Short Stories. Folklore. HTML: The Arabian Nights is the title which encompasses all of the Persian, Arabian and Indian folk tales which have made their way into western culture over hundreds of years. This collection was edited by Andrew Lang, and his selections were made with the purpose of making the tales more suitable and interesting to a general audience..

Physical description

424 p.; 8.48 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member reading_fox
Doesn't contain all the known Arabian fairy tales, if such a thing is possible. Most notable exception is Ali Baba and the fourty thieves. This edition is based on one of the early french compilations by Antoine Gallard, and translated inot English by Andrew Lang. In the process Gallard dropped the
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poetry and "a great deal of what the Arabian authors thought funny, though it seems wearisome to us". I'm not sure it would have been that dull actually. Then Lang cut some more out "shortened here and there, and omissions are made of pieces only suitable fro Arabs and old gentlemen" Ie bowdlerised. Which is also a shame and very notable on some stories.

The famous opening remains in place with the tale of Scheherazade beguiling her Sultan with stories to prevent his murdering of a new wife each morning. From here the collection rapidly fragments into new stories sometimes intertwinned as characters in one story narrate their adventures in the form of a new story. Once this loop fails to close, utterly abandoning the reader. Scheherazade is quickly forgotten and never reappears. Indeed only Sinbad lasts fro more than a tale or two, and he is limited to his famous seven exploits.

The stories themselves are all very similar. A Prince or princess or merchant suffers a hardship, bemoans their fate, meets a magical being, and regains a rich life full of treasure. Strangely teh singular form of genii is given as genius throughout which is a bit confusing. Likewise the difference between the various sorts of beings and human castes is never explained, but expected to be known to the reader. Kings seem to be a kind on minor noble much below the tank of Sultan or Caliph which seems odd to western traditions.

Notably different from western Fairy Tales in setting, if not in morals, it makes interesting reading to start with, but quickly becomes overly similar. I'm glad not all 1001 nights are reproduced here.
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LibraryThing member LCoale1
I didn't know what I was getting into when I started reading this book. I had heard a few references to the Arabian Nights, mainly that it was a highly scandalous book. That's it. So, of course, I had to read it. Arabian Nights is a book of Arabian fairy tales. There's genii (singular = genius.
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that'll save you confusion later) in basically every story. But, when I started reading, I couldn't stop. Arabian fairy tales are nothing like those of the West [despite what the preface says]. They're awesome! I would definitely recommend this book.
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LibraryThing member lkernagh
My other half has been hounding me for sometime now to read the One Thousand and One Nights tales that were such a favorite of his when he was a child. Given how big a tome the complete (if there is such a thing) collection of stories is, I compromised and decided to read the shorter collection of
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26 stories compiled by Andrew Lang. 24 of the stories are genuine Middle Eastern folk tales from the Islamic Golden Age (the 8th to 12 centuries) with almost all of them focused on the Caliphate era when the Islamic state was led by a caliph, a religious and political leader. The remaining two stories in this collection, The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor and Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, are said to be stories that were added to the larger collection of Arabian tales by Antoine Galland and other European translators in the early 18th century.

I enjoyed the stories for the Middle Eastern atmosphere and flavor but over time found the stories, even though richly told with diverse characters and situations, started to have a 'same old, same old' feel to them. Even today, these are great stories of morals, values and beliefs gone astray and the result of that straying from the set path. I found it amusing how the great Caliph can borrow a peasant's clothes and in the blink of an eye, even his own grand vizir can no longer recognize him - those must be magic clothes! - and how some of the characters are transformed into persons of brilliant beauty because they took a bath.... removing a month of grime probably would have that effect, although there is no indication that routine bathing was not an established habit. The violence was slightly perturbing. It is amazing how what we might today consider lesser transgressions of mischief brought about the quick execution of the miscreants and just how gullible some of the well-to-do Sultans, Princes, etc were in the stories. The Arabian Nights Entertainments is a good title for the collection. For the most part, the stories were very entertaining. I particularly liked how the stories have a nice gender balance and the women weren't just shadow figures in the stories. Some were smarter than the men and saved the day (so to speak) while others were powerful magicians (both good and evil).

While we think that most fables and fairy tales are stories for adults to read to their children, I was intrigued to learn that these Arabian Nights tales were created for and told to an adult audience by people whose profession at the time was to amuse men and women by telling tales. I can see how an adult would view these stories differently than a child would, and gain deeper meaning from them. If you have never read the stories of the Arabian Nights before, Lang's smaller collection may be a good place to start before attempting to tackle one of the larger, more complete collections of stories such as Richard Burton's English version or Antoine Galland's French version.
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LibraryThing member David.Loeff
This edition of the Arabian Nights contains only the most popular stories and none of the adult content that Sir Richard Francis Burton included in his multi-volume translation.

However, this translation is suitable for children while Burton's translation is not. Although Andrew Lang's language can
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seem somewhat archaic at times, it is nowhere near as archaic as Burton's.
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LibraryThing member GlenRH
Parts of this zoomed along and others I slogged through. I can see the value in the literature, but this is not a book I will read the through completely ever again. I may reread parts of it.




½ (71 ratings; 3.9)
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