Apr 23, 2013

Arabian Nights translated by Hussain Haddawy


Husain Haddawy'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.


I was hoping to hear an old version of the classic Aladdin and genies, but was instead met by strange tales of mermaids and sea people, Demons, sex scandals, and murder. I enjoyed it....for the most part. I was a little upset that we didn't really get to hear a lot about Shahrazad and Shahrayar who was kind of the main characters. It was also a little repetitive with the whole "...but morning overtook and Shahrazad lapsed into silence" then the next chapter would always start with "sister please tell us another of your stories" and then the story would start again. After a while though I just learned to completely skipped that part and just went to the next part of the story.

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