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The Thousand and also One Nights, likewise called The Arabian Nights, Arabic Alf laylah wa laylah, repertoire of largely Middle Eastern and Indian story of unsure date and authorship. Its tales of Aladdin, Ali Baba, and Sindbad the seafarer have virtually become part of west folklore, though this were included to the collection just in the 18th century in europe adaptations.


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Shahrazad (Scheherazade), illustration by Edmund Dulac from a 1911 edition of The Thousand and also One Nights.
Gianni Dagli Orti/Shutterstock.com
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Though the surname of that chief characters are Iranian, the structure story is more than likely Indian, and the largest proportion of surname is Arabic. The tales’ selection and geographical range of origin—India, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, and also possibly Greece—make solitary authorship unlikely; this check out is supported by inner evidence—the style, largely unstudied and also unaffected, consists of colloquialisms and also even grammatical errors such together no professional Arabic writer would allow.

The very first known referral to the Nights is a 9th-century fragment. That is next pointed out in 947 by al-Masʿūdī in a conversation of legendary story from Iran, India, and also Greece, as the Persian Hazār afsāna, “A thousands Tales,” “called by the world ‘A thousands Nights’.” In 987 Ibn al-Nadīm adds the Abū ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbdūs al-Jahshiyārī started a repertoire of 1,000 well-known Arabic, Iranian, Greek, and also other tales but died (942) when only 480 to be written.


It is clear that the expression “A thousand Tales” and “A Thousand and One…” were intended just to indicate a large number and also were taken literally just later, once stories were added to consist of the number.

By the 20th century, western scholars had actually agreed the the Nights is a composite occupational consisting of well-known stories originally transmitted orally and developed throughout several centuries, v material included somewhat haphazardly at different periods and also places. Several layers in the work, including one originating in Baghdad and also one larger and later, created in Egypt, were identified in 1887 by august Müller. By the mid-20th century, six successive develops had been identified: 2 8th-century Arabic translations of the Persian Hazār afsāna, dubbed Alf khurafah and Alf laylah; a 9th-century version based on Alf laylah however including other stories climate current; the 10th-century work by al-Jahshiyārī; a 12th-century collection, consisting of Egyptian tales; and the last version, prolonging to the 16th century and also consisting the the previously material v the addition of stories of the Islamic Counter-Crusades and tales brought to the Middle eastern by the Mongols. Many of the tales finest known in the West—primarily those the Aladdin, Ali Baba, and also Sindbad—were lot later additions to the initial corpus.

The an initial European translate into of the Nights, i m sorry was likewise the an initial published edition, was made through Antoine Galland as Les Mille et Une Nuits, contes arabes traduits en français, 12 vol. (vol. 1–10, 1704–12; vol. 11 and also 12, 1717). Galland’s key text was a four-volume Syrian manuscript, but the later volumes contain numerous stories native oral and also other sources. His translation stayed standard until the mid-19th century, parts even being retranslated right into Arabic. The Arabic message was first published in complete at Calcutta (Kolkata), 4 vol. (1839–42). The source for most later translations, however, to be the so-called Vulgate text, an Egyptian recension released at Bulaq, Cairo, in 1835, and also several time reprinted.

Meanwhile, French and also English continuations, versions, or execution of Galland had added stories from oral and also manuscript sources, collected, with others, in the Breslau edition, 5 vol. (1825–43) by Maximilian Habicht. Later on translations complied with the Bulaq text with differing fullness and accuracy. Amongst the best-known that the 19th-century translations right into English is the of sir Richard Burton, who provided John Payne’s little-known full English translation, 13 vol. (9 vol., 1882–84; 3 supplementary vol., 1884; vol. 13, 1889), to produce his unexpurgated The thousand Nights and a Night, 16 vol. (10 vol., 1885; 6 supplementary vol., 1886–88).

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