Talk:One Thousand and One Nights

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questions regarding the r.f. burton translation, the b.a. cerf selection and the "Egyptian recension"[edit]

I have two questions regarding the r.f. burton translation, the b.a. cerf selection and the "Egyptian recension":

"The first European version (1704–1717) was translated into French by Antoine Galland from an Arabic text of the Syrian recension and other sources. This 12-volume work ... included stories that were not in the original Arabic manuscript. "Aladdin's Lamp" and "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" (as well as several other, lesser known tales) appeared first in Galland's translation and cannot be found in any of the original manuscripts. ... As scholars were looking for the presumed "complete" and "original" form of the Nights, they naturally turned to the more voluminous texts of the Egyptian recension, which soon came to be viewed as the "standard version". The first translations ... and then by Sir Richard Francis Burton..."

now amazon says about the burton-translation, that it contains the stories that Galland seems to have added (see below). so one must conclude that the "Egyptian recension" contains the Galland-version... can this be right? and if so, how did it get there? back-translation?


The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights (Modern Library Classics) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1. Juni 2004 von A.S. Byatt (Einleitung), Richard Burton (Übersetzer)

"This volume reproduces the 1932 Modern Library edition, for which Bennett A. Cerf chose the most famous and representative stories from Sir Richard F. Burton's multivolume translation, and includes Burton's extensive and acclaimed explanatory notes. These tales, including Alaeddin; or, the Wonderful Lamp, Sinbad the Seaman and Sinbad the Landsman, and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves...")

and finally - if I may -: how much (%) and what did Bennett A. Cerf omit? does the text lose authenticity for a connaisseur?

thanks! --HilmarHansWerner (talk) 00:13, 23 September 2015 (UTC)

From my reading of the article it seems pretty clear that Galland's additional stories were not from either the "Egyptian", nor the "Syrian" versions, both of which are entirely in Arabic. The two "recensions" differ, especially in the number of stories they contain - in fact different manuscripts are also inconsistent. Galland's so-called "orphan" tales, however, are the ones not sourced to ANY Arabic manuscript. Existing Arabic versions of Aladdin, for instance, are generally believed to be translations of Galland's French! Exactly where Galland's stories originally came from is problematic - he claimed to have taken them down from a middle-eastern story teller and then translated them into French, in the same way as he translated the "main" text - less than charitable critics have even suggested he made them up himself to string the book out a bit and add interest (it has to be said that many of the original tales have limited appeal for Western readers, or modern Eastern ones for that matter). No one seriously supposes that "Galland's orphans" are an authentic part of the Nights - they usually appear in modern editions, but more out of tradition and habit than anything else. Sir Richard Burton' translation uncritically included Galland's additions, and also added authentic Arabic literature (Sinbad, for instance) that no one had previously associated with the Nights, but significantly, a lot of this added material he assigned to "supplementary" volumes rather than the main set covering the "authentic" part based on the original Arabic.
Which translation to read? If you are a native French speaker, I believe that Galland himself has been admired as a writer, and that his version of the Nights is a French classic. Of early English translations, Burton's has been admired as literature in its own right - although much of the "Arabic flavour" is just Burton being flowery rather than especially "authentic". Or there are a number of more accurate modern translations available. If you're seriously interested I suggest you try reading whatever you can get hold of! If you have access to Bennett A. Cerf and Burton you might try doing your own comparisons? --Soundofmusicals (talk) 02:11, 23 September 2015 (UTC)
I'm not an expert, but I'll add: My sense is that virtually no editions or translations of the Nights have any very good claim to "authenticity" because of the haphazard ways in which they were all cobbled together -- so in general, the best criterion is probably one's personal preference for the style of the translator. The exception seems to be the Muhsin Mahdi edition of 1984. This has been translated into English by Husain Haddawy in 1990, and possibly into other languages as well. (Haddawy's introduction includes a brief but useful history of versions, as well as a critique, with examples, of the translations of Lane, Payne, and Burton.) The catch is that what makes Mahdi's edition "authentic" -- other than emendations and lacunae it is based solely on a 14th-century Syrian ms -- makes it exclude many of the most popular tales: Alladin, Ali Baba, Sinbad, etc., because these were evidently later additions. But it might be argued that the "authentic" Nights is an evolving collection that retains some impression of each of the meddling hands that have touched it over the last thousand years. In that case, the sprawling Egyptian versions (and Galland, Burton, and the rest) are the real thing.
Regarding Cerf's 1932 selection, while I see that it boasts a hefty 823 pages, it is no match for Burton's 16 volumes of about 5,000 - 6,000 pages (my bargain reprint of Payne weighs in at just over 2,000). Any way you slice it, Cerf's done a lot of selecting. However with Burton there was a lot of padding ... and you have to ask yourself, do you really want to read 6,000 pages of anyone's translation? Phil wink (talk) 05:22, 23 September 2015 (UTC)
I'm afraid you're mistaken somewhat. Muhsin Mahdi's point was that European editors and Egyptian informants modified, edited, expurgated and censored the tales to a.) please conservative taste of the 19th century, b.) meet European demand to supplement the missing nights by replacing them. Yes you can proceed from the idea that the Nights are always defined by accretions but then again there is a difference between a set evolution and just altering the text to the point of destroying its style and consistency haphazardly. That's what Egyptian editors did. They excised from the tales all of the sexually explicit and obscene materials that they did not like, tried to tamper them down to fit a more conservative taste and added a bunch of other stories inconsistent with the Middle Arabic style of the core group of surviving stories, even deviating thematically from the themes of the core group (which mostly dealt with kingship). I don't necessarily agree with Mahdi that the Syrian tradition is "authentic" (which is near impossible when dealing with an evolving oral folklore tradition) but the relative consistency of the stories and order in the Syrian manuscript tradition (which is the only pre-modern, pre-colonial tradition surviving) with their relatively constant set group of stories preserving the same linguistic register, with Classical Arabic for the poetry versus the later 19th century Egyptian and European editions more inconsistent ordering, randomly added stories and expurgated character definitely indicate that the medieval (Mamluk era) folkoric tradition of the Nights is not particularly well represented by the Egyptian and Calcutta Nights or the editions by Burton, Lane, etc. As for Ali Baba and Aladdin, those are recent colonial forgeries that were added by Galland to help spice up the Nights for European readers, along with other additions like Sinbad, Ebony Horse, etc. While Arabic manuscripts exist for Sinbad, Ebony Horse, etc (albeit from traditions separate from that of the Nights), Aladdin and Ali Baba have none. He says he heard them from a Christian storyteller in Aleppo but no evidence of that exists. It's quite possible he made those two up. It matters not ultimately, depending on how you choose to approach the Nights. The Syrian manuscript tradition (as edited by Mahdi) best reflects the pre-modern Arabic Nights tradition as it survives today, and gives us clues as to what stories were commonly associated with the collection in the Medieval era, considering the same set remained in the same order in successive Syrian manuscripts. If you are interested in pre-modern Arabic literature and writing, the Mahdi-Haddawy Nights is best from a scholarly point of view (its my personal favorite). However, if you take a broader literary view of the Nights and appreciate the literary influence of the Nights in its various incarnations (including 19th century European Orientalist ones when it became a major work of world literature), then the Egyptian tradition and its European translators would the real thing for you. Both have their strengths. When it comes to the latter tradition, I prefer Burton. Granted his translation does not reflect the Arabic faithfully, if at all. But it did define the collection for the Victorian reader. It is significant and important, if only as a work of British orientalist literature rather than as an Arabic one. When it comes to the earlier tradition, Mahdi-Haddawy all the way. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:54, 21 September 2016 (UTC)

Minor edits of wording[edit]

At least at its best, the wording of Wikipedia can be very precise. A recent well meant (good faith) edit rendered a long standing edit from the lead as: It is also known in English as the Arabian Nights, as the first English language edition (1706) rendered the title as The Arabian Nights' Entertainment. The changes were:

1. "often" rendered to "also". Nothing clearer, or more grammatical, of even better punctuated about THIS bit. What's more, we lose an important nuance - probably "Arabian Nights" is the title most familiar with English-speaking readers, and indeed the article has in the past been known by that title. We do really need "often" rather than "also" here. As a general rule, few edits that makes text less specific are an improvement on the original.

2. The conventional English title is taken FROM the title of the first English-language edition. It is not identical - the "entertainment" bit was cut off. This what the original text says, pretty precisely. The modified text also says something fairly precise, but it is something different, and less accurate. Again - editing to make text "clearer" needs to be based on a full understanding of what existing text says. -Soundofmusicals (talk) 03:11, 30 October 2016 (UTC)

I don't see in the list here of publications those by Robert Heron?[edit]

Arabian Tales, or continuations of Arabian Nights' Entertainments, translated from the French, 4 vols. 1792. Robert Heron.

Should it be entered or is his publication not considered a true ANE? Just wondering

Just putting another note as I forgot to log in under my wikipedia name — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hanslune (talkcontribs) 02:34, 22 March 2017 (UTC)

"Arab Culture"?[edit]

I noticed this article is being "classified" as an "arab culture" article. This is incorrect as the One Thousand and One Nights book is multi-cultural series of stories encapsulated by a Persian frame story. I think the Arab culture classification is misleading and should probably be removed.Xarhunter (talk) 09:17, 17 April 2017 (UTC)