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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best version of the "Nights" -- hands down!, Oct. 21 2002
By 
Scott Chamberlain "Historian and archaeologist" (Minneapolis, MN United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Arabian Nights (Hardcover)
I have loved the Arabian Nights since I was a kid. But its fame as a "children's book" has often been a disadvantage -- most editions are simplified, hobbled and sanitized. The unedited versions geared more for adults are a hundred years old, and often show their age. Burton, for example, is an impressive edition but the language is almost a parody of High Victorian English. This edition by Haddawy is almost as perfect as it could possibly be. First, the introduction is wonderful and definately worth reading on its own -- how many times can you say *that* about a book? It sets the stage for understanding the work, the problems in translating it, and the world the Nights came from. It is clearly, smoothly written. These strengths are carried over to the main text as well. The writing is so direct, modern, vivid, and thrilling! It effortlessly takes you into this vanished world of danger, love, magic and adventure. Many expressions are modernized, such as "demon" for "genie" or "God" for "Allah," which work well, although I wouldn't have minded the the more "romantic" terms. Haddawy explains his choice of stories... the full original text only contains about 300 nights worth of tales. Most of the famous stories were added later (Aladdin, Sindbad, etc.) in response to greater interest in the work. Readers looking for these stories should check out Haddawy's companion volume, "Arabian Nights II," which has these famous stories and shares almost all the virtues of this volume. Finally, these books are wonderfully put together: great paper, type, binding... very satisfying just as a physical form. For those who loved these stories, or anyone with a sense of adventure, buy this! Buy it now!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very fun read, July 17 2012
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This review is from: Arabian Nights (Paperback)
I was exposed to this book in college, and years later I remembered about it and decided to buy it. It is such a fun read, and I would definitely recommend it. My only issue is I seem to have received a copy that fell through quality control, as the pages weren't cut flush. There are certain pages that are longer, and therefore stick out further and get crumpled because of it. It's not a big enough deal for me to bother returning it to get another copy, but I thought I should mention it anyway.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Adventure, July 28 2006
By 
Craig Jenkins (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Arabian Nights (Hardcover)
I almost feel as though I'm piling on - another 5* review for Arabian Nights. But the book offers two specific marvels that I have never encountered in quite the same way.

First, the structure of the book, with elegantly nested plots, and cliffhanger chapters which make it clear why the king could not bear to lose Sheherezade before the tale could end.

Second, a set of twists and turns that may in fact be standard for persian/arabian texts, but were new and fresh for someone more used to the western canon. Wow.

I'm certain that any reader will find great joy in the Arabian Nights.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ladder of Love, Nov. 8 2003
By 
Jim Robinson (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Arabian Nights (Hardcover)
I read this book several years ago during a time in my life when I was free to devote a good deal of time to it. I immersed myself in it for quite a while, making charts and graphs to keep track of the intricate structure of stories within stories. When I was about half or three quarters of the way through, I began to experience a sort of spiritual excitement or intoxication, similar to experiences I had reading Hegel's *Logic*, or the works of Meher Baba, or some other works. I called the author and told him about this, and told him I thought it was a spiritual book. He said no one has done anything, as far as he knows, to examine or explain the book in that way. I believe many of the characters and situations are symbols for characteristics of the spiritual path; I can feel this level of meaning, but I am not sufficiently knowledgable in that area to really explain them fully. However, it is quite clear that the overall scheme of the book has a meaning.
Scheherazade was a beautiful young woman of high status, living in a kingdom where the women had met a great misfortune. The king was betrayed by one of his mistresses, so he took the habit of recruiting a new mistress every night, whom he would slay in the morning to make sure he was not again betrayed. Scheherazade told her family, to their great dismay, that she was going to volunteer for this duty. The stories are the ones she used to engage the interest of the king, so that his curiosity was so great he would delay killing her for at least one more night.
The first stories portray people of the absolute meanest and most crude nature, full of lust, violence, selfishness, suspicion, and a very low nature. Bit by bit, the tone of the stories becomes elevated, until at the end they are stories of unbelievably sublime love, self sacrifice, absolute humility and the willingness to undergo any suffering for the sake of the beloved.
By this method, Scherezade raised the consciousness of the king, and liberated him and his kingdom from the thralldom of his previous state of ignorance.
I hope one day to say more about the specific symbolic meaning of many of the characters and situations, which are extremely evocative and mean a great deal more than what is on the surface.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great storytelling.., Aug. 9 2009
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This review is from: Arabian Nights (Paperback)
This translation is the best by far. The stories are interesting and authentic, very well told. The book itself is a unique concept and I believe a must read for anyone who loves the art of great storytelling. I definitely recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing and entertaining book, April 5 2004
By 
Hsu Chun Wei "hsuab" (Taiwan) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Arabian Nights (Hardcover)
"'What an amazing and entertaining story!' said Dinarzad, the sister of queen Shahrazad. And she would reply, 'What is this compared with what I shall tell you tomorrow night if I stay alive.'" This dialogue ends every night of "the nights" and makes us all to wander and expect what will happen the next night. While anticipating the next night, the readers' hearts and minds goes ups and downs with the book. The Stories of "The Arabian Nights", or "The One Thousand and One Nights," are very entertaining and strange. It makes you turn those pages to find out what will happen and you will discover those stories (and stories within the stories within the stories within the stories), you never dreamed of, which made you finish the book fast and delighted.
Although I expected to read the story like "the story of Sindbad," and "the story of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp," which are explained by the introduction, is later addition to fulfill the name of the "one thousand" nights, I really enjoy this translation of the oldest version of the Nights. The translator, Husain Haddawy, even made this book more familiar to us. He changes "Allah" to "God," and such. This book about four hundred more pages will bring you a lot fun time while you read it. I highly recommend you to read this version of "The Arabian Nights."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent translation, Jan. 23 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Arabian Nights (Hardcover)
I highly recommend this new translation of the Arabian Nights. Previous translators have sought to colorize or edit the tales, but here the translator sought to stay true to the text. Readers may be surprised to see that the most famous tales (Aladdin, Sinbad) are not here, since they were added on at a later date. I enjoyed working through the story sequence and was surprised at the humor (the Barber's tale was hilarious). Read the introduction - for one thing, it taught me to look at the amazing level of detail in the stories, such as the individual dishes a character prepares for a feast.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Shahrazad would like it...., Jan. 21 2004
By 
C. Gardner (Washington D.C., D.C. United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Arabian Nights (Hardcover)
Haddawy's translation is amazing. His straightforward approach--unlike Burton's, or probably any other English translation--shows in contrast what was missing from earlier versions, and how a florid, 'literary' approach can obscure the brilliance of the stories themselves. His approach is direct; much of the poetry is complete, and he has tried to capture the differing tones of the stories (which belie their insertion at different periods in the Nights' history). A remarkable work, and probably the one against all subsequent translations will be held.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Arabian Nights: The Thousand and One Nights, Dec 8 2003
This is a book about a woman named Shahrazade who every night sits with her husband and sister and tells stories to distract her husband not killing her. Every time she would end the night, she would turn to her sister and say "tomorrow night I shall tell you something stranger and more amazing if the king spares me and lets me live!" I didn't understand why her husband would wish her to be dead but I did notice that she would only communicate to her sister. Not once did she turn to her husband and speak to him directly. It didn't seem like a loving relationship but more of a controlling relationship.
She tells these stories and in every one of them, it was explained that if you do wrong to someone that God will do wrong to you. That person never lives happily ever after because God will punish them. "Spare me and God will spare you." Shahrazade tells her stories in defense for her life explaining that she didn't do anything to deserve for her life to be taken away. Her stories are examples of innocent people being tortured or killed but at the end the ones who took peoples' lives in their own hands will be punished by God. You get the sense that Shahrazade believes in God and that God will protect her. I f she is meant to die, then she will, its all up to God. He is the almighty, not her husband and through out the story she doesn't give up on God. She still has faith in Him. I do think that is how one takes any situation that they are in, depend on God and he will help you. I do think that it is hard for people to look within God for help but Shahrazade didn't find it hard at all.
Shaharazade may be seen as being the weak one in the relationship because it's obvious that her husband has the power. However, I see her as being the strong one because she manipulates a man, who she is supposed to fear, to stall her execution. She held her life in her hands and she controlled it discretely. Even though a man is physically powerful a woman is more mentally powerful and the mental will always dominate the physical. She used her voice to save her because that is all she had and it worked in her benefit. This book proves my point because her husband wasn't smart enough to comprehend that his wife was trying to stall her death. She continued telling these stories and pleading for her life, and her husband was just interested in her continuing with the stories. He didn't even understand the moral of the story and that God holds the power, not him. I do think that her role in the story was very strong and she kept calm through the stories and that was because she never lost faith in God.
These stories that Shahrazade told were interesting to read and I loved how one intertwined with the other. I believe these stories she told symbolized her life and how unstable and crazy it was. The tales were all about men being the "strong" and powerful ones but at the end she told the tale of the Enchanted King where the man wasn't as powerful. This was a story of how a woman tortured her husband to be with another man. The tables were turned and the woman became powerful; she controlled her husband. However, at the end she was punished just like the other men in the stories Shaharazade told. I understood this to mean that Shahrazade wasn't looking for having power but she wanted to feel equal to her husband.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, Sept. 2 2003
This review is from: The Arabian Nights (Hardcover)
Feigned as innocent and child-friendly by Disney, the book is a complete antipode of what it is has come to be popularly believed. The fairy tales are absolutely charming and the adventures enthralling as they swarm with magic and adventure, and...quite a few obscenities. This however does not diminish the value of this marvellous book and an equally marvellous translation, but does taint it's reputation. But it would be truly foolish to let a few subtle obscenities deter one from engaging in the wondrously spun tales of Shahrazad. Also, I would highly recommend the second book of the Arabian Nights with the famous adventures of Sindbad and Ala-Al-Din and the magic lamp.
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