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.
's rapturously received translation of The Arabian Nights is based on a landmark reconstruction of the earliest extant manuscript version. These stories (and stories within stories, and stories within stories within stories), told by the Princess Shahrazad under the threat of death if she ceases to amuse, first reached the West around 1700. They fired in the European imagination an appetite for the mysterious and exotic which has never left it. Collected over centuries from India, Persia, and Arabia, and ranging from vivacious erotica, animal fables, and adventure fantasies to pointed Sufi tales, the stories of The Arabian Nights provided the daily entertainment of the medieval Islamic world at the height of its glory. The present new translation by Husain Haddawy
is of the Mahdi edition, the definitive Arabic edition of a fourteenth-century Syrian manuscript in the Biblioth que Nationale in Paris, which is the oldest surviving version of the tales and is considered to be the most authentic. This early version is without the embellishments and additions that appear in later Indian and Egyptian manuscripts, on which all previous English translations were based.
HUSAIN HADDAWY was born and grew up in Baghdad, taught English and comparative literature at various American universities, wrote art criticism and is now living in retirement in Thailand.