A plain and literal translation of the Arabian Nights entertainments, now entitled [sic] The book of a Thousand Nights and a Night with introduction explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of The Nights. SIXTEEN VOLUMES.
BURTON, SIR RICHARD.
Book ID: 34716
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First edition of Burton’s translation. It remains the only translation of the complete Nights, Burton’s magnum opus and the pre-eminent English translation of the Middle Eastern classic.
Richard Burton travelled to Mecca, explored the African Great Lakes and shocked his readers with his candid travel accounts; he was one of the foremost linguists of his time, and also an explorer, poet, translator, ethnologist, and archaeologist, among other things. ‘The Thousand Nights and a Night’ is probably the most famous of all his many works. This translation reflected his encyclopaedic knowledge of Arabic language, sexual practices and life: “it reveals a profound acquaintance with the vocabulary and customs of the Muslims, with their classical idiom,” [Encl. Brit.] as well as colloquialisms, philosophy, modes of thought and intimate details. The first edition was published in 1885-88 and reissued by the Burton Club shortly thereafter.
The Arabian Nights’ Entertainment is “a collection of ancient Persian-Indian-Arabian tales, originally in Arabic, arranged in its present form about 1450, probably in Cairo. The collection is also known as A Thousand and One Nights. Although the stories are distinct in plot, they are unified by Scheherazade, the supposed teller; she postpones her execution by telling her husband Schahriah, a story night after night, without revealing the climax until the following session. Sir Richard Burton’s monumental version was issued only to subscribers by the Kamashastra Society of Benares in 1885-86. Among the more recent editions is [one] by Powys Mathers” (Benét’s Reader’s Encyclopedia). The most popular stories include “Aladdin,” “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” and “Sinbad the Sailor.” “Burton arrived at Bombay in October 1842 and was posted to Baroda, about 400 kilometres to the north, where he spent much of his time perfecting his knowledge of
Hindustani and Arabic.” (R. J. Howgego).
Bibliographic references: Cf. Howgego III, B98 (p. 146, first ed. 1885-88).