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Arabian Nights: Based On The Text Edited By Muhsin Mahdi Paperback – May 13 2008

4.9 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; New Deluxe Edition edition (May 13 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393331660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393331660
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.8 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #113,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


The resourceful Shahrazad... has never been more entertaining than in this fresh and vigorous version of this immortal book. — Doris Lessing (The Independent)

Easily the clearest, most fluent and readable translation. — A.S. Byatt (Sunday Times [London])

A distinguished new translation. — Edward Said (The Nation)

From the Inside Flap

Full of mischief and valor, ribaldry and romance, "The Arabian Nights is a work that has enthralled readers for centuries.
The origins of "The Arabian Nights are obscure. About a thousand years ago a vast number of stories in Arabic from various countries began to be brought together; only much later was the collection called The Arabian Nights or the Thousand and One Nights.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.
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Format: 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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Format: 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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Format: 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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