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on 9 September 2008
This is a translation of the oldest manuscript of the Alf Layla wa-Layla, the Thousand and One Nights. It is a lively tale. The 'thousand and one' nights of the title are the nights during which, as the other reviewers have already written, Shaharazad entertains her murderous husband with a tale with cliff-hanger at the end of each to force him to put off her execution for another day. There never were a thousand and one actual nights in the story - that came partly from the title of the book whose translation from Persian into Arabic more than a thousand years ago formed the nucleus of the book we have now, the Hazar Afsan or 'Thousand Tales'.

In this volume are to be found the oldest tales of the Alf Layla wa-Layla. You need to buy the companion The Arabian Nights: Sindbad and other stories: Vol 2 published by Norton in paperback or hardback (it's also available as an Everyman hardback The Arabian Nights: Vol 2) to get the old favourites like Aladdin, Ali Baba and Sindbad the Sailor. These tales were added to the Arabian Nights by Galland around 1710-1720. He was the first translator of the Arabian Nights (into French) and added tales from other Arabic sources on his publisher's request. These have been part of the Arabian Nights ever since: even modern Arabic editions all include these tales now!

Be aware there are two editions of this book, the Norton and the Everyman edition. I like the Everyman hardback, which is not very expensive but nice to read. I haven't tried the Norton, but it's exactly the same text. I think there's a Norton hardback too.

[N.B. These aren't childrens' editions... the behaviour can be adult at times.]

If you want to read more about the Alf Layla wa-Layla, you could try Robert Irwin's The Arabian Nights: A Companion (his Penguin Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature is a great intro to classical Arabic literature). Both are quite serious; still more academically, Muhsin Mahdi's "Thousand and One Nights" discusses the history of the book (Mahdi was the editor of the Arabic manuscript this book is based on).
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on 27 May 2011
I'd only read and heard children's versions of some of the tales from the Arabian Nights before and it wasn't until I watched a TV programme about this version that I realised how ancient the stories are, and that they are for adults. The content varies from pious to raunchy - think of Chaucers Canterbury Tales translated into modern English. The stories are an easy read; good for reading last thing at night. The cover is attractive and the quality of the paper used for the pages is good but the way the pages were cut has left their edges rough. Be aware of this if planning to give to someone else as a present. All in all I have no hesitation in recommending this book as a very accessible way of reading these old tales.
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on 30 April 2014
Wow what a read! One is truly transported into the lands of love, djinns, hatchbacks, kings, magic and mystery. I am a huge lover of all tales from 1001 nights, and grew up listening to these marvellous tales. I have lots of these books and these tales are not told in a non repetitive manner.

If you are someone who loves the 1001 nights, buy this. You will not be disappointed.
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on 23 February 2015
Fascinating picture of the times. The stories are funny, and naughty and the invention never ends.
I did find that it became too repetitious for me as each story developed into ever more complex knots.
I skipped all the poetry, and there's masses of it, and if you have what it takes to enjoy that, you'd surely enjoy this even more than I did.
Nonetheless, it's one to relish, perhaps in smallish bites, taken often.
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on 9 May 2012
I only knew children's stories from Arabian nights so I was for a big surprise that this book is not for children at all! I just could not stop reading it! Spicy, sexy, adventurous, funny! And very good translation!
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on 10 September 2013
Husain Haddawy's translation of the One Thousand and One Nights is from a fourteenth Century Syrian edition - the oldest manuscript of the stories to have survived. The language in his translations - sensual, sly, bawdy, satirical - reveals these famous tales-within-tales in a new light, demonstrating why they have had such a profound influence on world literature.
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on 11 October 2014
An excellent translation reflecting the natural cadence and style of the original. Beautifully presented. Not a book to read at a sitting but a good bedtime read, easy to dip into! Highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 5 August 2009
I was brought up with various translations of the tales, published in the 1930s at a guess. This book - and its sister; there are too many to fit in one book! - captures all the magic & humour of the stories I remember.

There have been a few re-additions (the originals were quite risque in places), which add authenticity. All in all, a lovely book.

My grandpa told me Schearezadeh was the teenage daughter of a 'courtesan' (ahem) who, having learned various lapdancing, conjuring & acting skills, reckoned she could keep the bored king interested for a couple of years.

I now know the "1001 Tales" (there are about 600) are a compilation of favourite folklore stories, compiled by an historian of the time. To my mind, that's even more magical - what great evenings townspeople must have had, swapping these stories!

Retold tales: Funny, enchanting, cheeky and beautiful :)
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on 13 January 2002
Shahrazad is forced to marry a king, who on the next night has a nasty habbit of killing his wives the next morning. Her idea to save her life and women after her from the king's evil ways it to tell him a story each night, always finishing with a cliff hanger ending, so that he will spare her life, to find out what happens next. This goes on for 1001 nights; hence the former title. This box is made even better by the fact that it list what happens each night. In this volume nights 1 to 271 are covered.
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on 14 March 2008
After finding out that his first wife commited adultry, King Shahrayar holds the view that all women were to be untrusted, therefore his choice to marry a woman and have her killed the next morning after spending a night with her.

Shaharazad, a smart educated woman who willingly (NOT FORCED) marries the King in order to show that she can survive as the Kings wife (unlike the other women who are killed the next morning) has the idea of telling him a different tale every night, but concluding it the next night and beginning a new one. This went on for 1001 nights, hence the title.

This book contains the first 271 tales.
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