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on 12 August 2015
I never read Thousands Nights before, but this book is brilliant . The book is very interesting . I love the way the stories were told. If anyone wants to read excellent stories, I recommend this one.
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on 10 June 2016
I can see why the King kept wanting more . An excellent translation .
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on 23 February 2016
Love the old, vintagey covers! N.J Dawood does a great job of translation too. Classic
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on 19 June 2014
catching up on the classics. This is a very decent read and you can see how the stories have had a powerful impact on Western fiction, especially movies. They give voice to a multicultural view of life in Muslim history where Jews and Christians and Muslims intermingled. Far from the strict lifestyle this is a very naughty book, with plenty of booze, hot babes up to no good, slavery, and man generally cruel and exploitative of his 'brother' It is dreamlike in places with the black humour of say 'Fargo' but revealing that everywhere civilisation is paper thin, and the rich and powerful do as they please.
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on 13 August 2014
I bought this book because I wanted to learn something about medieval Islam. It is generally reckoned that these stories were current in the time of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid, who was a contemporary of Charlemagne. I had not read about Aladdin and Sinbad the Sailor since I was a child; and I wanted to know more about the historical context.

I was not disappointed. The stories are very entertaining; but more than that, they do have much to say about society and the way of life in the time of the Abbasid Caliphate.

This is a slave-owning society, like Greece and Rome, but without the benefit of Roman law. It is also one which holds women and ‘negroes’ in contempt. Unfortunately for the masters, they also live in fear; and one fear seems to predominate. As soon as your back is turned, your wife is likely to jump into bed (or perhaps lie on a divan) with your negro slave. A spectre is haunting the court of Harun al-Rashid, just as it haunted the Old Plantations of the American South – and it is the spectre of black sexual power.

Not a place you would have wanted to be, even if you were a Muslim. Admittedly, Islam does seem to have been reasonably tolerant then of the People of the Book – Jews and Christians – provided they did not step out of line; but this is a society where there is no concept of the rule of law, let alone representative government. The ruler is absolute, and his word is law. People are routinely beheaded on a whim, on trumped up charges, and without benefit of a hearing, whether they part of the faithful or infidels.

On the whole I would take Western feudalism every time. There was some concept there of freedom, for some people, some of the time.
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on 6 May 2011
I had several options/versions of 1001 Arabian nights but I chose this specific one because of the translator Mr. Dawood. He has an excellent command on the native and the translated to language and he has done another great job in rendering this Arabic classical for us the English readers. Fully recommended.
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on 4 July 2005
I decided to read this as I am going to Egypt and it was recommended to me. Of course I'd heard the more famous stories such as Aladdin and Sinbad when I was younger, but little did I know what was in store for me as I read a broader selection of these tales! This is a great edition, and you can easily imagine many of the cruder tales being regaled around a campfire long ago. Many of the stories really appealed to the little girl in me, with wonderful stories of magic and genies (or jinns!) and romance. I would definitely recommend this, as it's a selection and you can read these before deciding whether you want to pursue them and go for the full hog. As I've also read The Canterbury Tales and Boccaccio's Decameron, it was easy to see parallels and you can certainly see where much of the later great writers drew their inspiration from. Please read this book, it really is one of those that can be enjoyed by anyone of any age!
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on 6 February 1999
Not all translations of 1001 Nights are alike; this translation by NJ Dawood is fresh, funny, and true to the medieval Islamic culture. What's more, the stories are as enchanting to children (8 and up) as they are to adults. Jinns, sorcerers, caliphs, and crafty mothers are in this translation as they are in others, but here they are firmly tied to everyday life -- they might be your neighbors, if your neighbors lived in an enchanted ring or lamp. Realistic and bawdy, serious and fantastic, this is the version I like best.
This audiocassette publication, read by Souad Faress and Raad Rawi, is one of the best books on tape I own. The rythms of the Middle East compliment the stories in a way no library reader has ever done before. Even though the base translation is abridged, the six hours of stories will keep you entranced. My son and I did a 200-mile each way trip with this book as our entertainment, and were sorry when the last tape finally ended.
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on 8 September 2006
Brilliant book. The tales themselves are funny, magical, colourful, earthy, violent and very very colourful. They reveal a lot about the imagination and obsessions of medieval middle eastern society, and human society generally - poverty, work, the wheel of fortune, crime and punishment,truth and lies, god and the devil. Above all they are masterpieces in the art of great story-telling, with all sorts of little twists and turns of plot, narratives within narratives, comic devices, pastiche characters.The translation is superb in its clarity, consistency and stylistic appropriateness. Don't delay - go and educate yourself in one of the foundations of all storytelling and literature.
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on 19 September 2015
This is definitely a book worth finding. I try to read a few classics every year, and the different styles, the words and language used, or the subject matter can be quite alien to modern eyes. This is of course part of the fun but often very difficult, you wonder why they have survived?
However, the tales here are easy and fast and funny. Often they are one page anecdotes, sometimes they morph from one story to the next without missing a beat. And occasionally they turn out to be a classic tale but told in a way you never knew before, like Ali baba or Aladin. Or a joke about farts.
The only other classic I have read that zipped along in the same way is Three men in a boat by Jerome K. Jerome, and it was written several centuries after this book.
I can't say how true these adaptions are to the source material, how many stories are originals, or if the translations are marvellously accurate. But I can say I enjoyed them thoroughly, and I imagine anyone from ages 8 to 80 would snigger along too!
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