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The first known reference to the Nights is a 9th-century fragment. By the 20th century, Western scholars had agreed that the Nights is a composite work consisting of popular stories originally transmitted orally and developed during several centuries, with material added somewhat haphazardly at different periods and places.
Several layers in the work, including one originating in Baghdad and one larger and later, written in Egypt, were distinguished in by August Müller.
Most of the tales best known in the West—primarily those of Aladdin, Ali Baba, and Sindbad—were much later additions to the original corpus.
His translation remained standard until the midth century, parts even being retranslated into Arabic. The Arabic text was first published in full at Calcutta Kolkata , 4 vol.
The source for most later translations, however, was the so-called Vulgate text, an Egyptian recension published at Bulaq , Cairo , in , and several times reprinted.
Meanwhile, French and English continuations, versions, or editions of Galland had added stories from oral and manuscript sources, collected, with others, in the Breslau edition, 5 vol.
Later translations followed the Bulaq text with varying fullness and accuracy. Episodes Seasons. Edit Cast Series cast summary: Jake D.
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Country: Canada. Language: English. The tales vary widely: they include historical tales, love stories, tragedies, comedies, poems, burlesques , and various forms of erotica.
Numerous stories depict jinn , ghouls , apes ,  sorcerers , magicians , and legendary places, which are often intermingled with real people and geography, not always rationally.
Common protagonists include the historical Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid , his Grand Vizier , Jafar al-Barmaki , and the famous poet Abu Nuwas , despite the fact that these figures lived some years after the fall of the Sassanid Empire , in which the frame tale of Scheherazade is set.
Sometimes a character in Scheherazade's tale will begin telling other characters a story of his own, and that story may have another one told within it, resulting in a richly layered narrative texture.
Different versions differ, at least in detail, as to final endings in some Scheherazade asks for a pardon, in some the king sees their children and decides not to execute his wife, in some other things happen that make the king distracted but they all end with the king giving his wife a pardon and sparing her life.
The narrator's standards for what constitutes a cliffhanger seem broader than in modern literature. While in many cases a story is cut off with the hero in danger of losing their life or another kind of deep trouble, in some parts of the full text Scheherazade stops her narration in the middle of an exposition of abstract philosophical principles or complex points of Islamic philosophy , and in one case during a detailed description of human anatomy according to Galen —and in all of these cases she turns out to be justified in her belief that the king's curiosity about the sequel would buy her another day of life.
The history of the Nights is extremely complex and modern scholars have made many attempts to untangle the story of how the collection as it currently exists came about.
Robert Irwin summarises their findings:. In the s and s a lot of work was done on the Nights by Zotenberg and others, in the course of which a consensus view of the history of the text emerged.
Most scholars agreed that the Nights was a composite work and that the earliest tales in it came from India and Persia. At some time, probably in the early 8th century, these tales were translated into Arabic under the title Alf Layla , or 'The Thousand Nights'.
This collection then formed the basis of The Thousand and One Nights. The original core of stories was quite small.
Then, in Iraq in the 9th or 10th century, this original core had Arab stories added to it—among them some tales about the Caliph Harun al-Rashid.
Also, perhaps from the 10th century onwards, previously independent sagas and story cycles were added to the compilation [ In the early modern period yet more stories were added to the Egyptian collections so as to swell the bulk of the text sufficiently to bring its length up to the full 1, nights of storytelling promised by the book's title.
Devices found in Sanskrit literature such as frame stories and animal fables are seen by some scholars as lying at the root of the conception of the Nights.
The influence of the Panchatantra and Baital Pachisi is particularly notable. The Tale of the Bull and the Ass and the linked Tale of the Merchant and his Wife are found in the frame stories of both the Jataka and the Nights.
It is possible that the influence of the Panchatantra is via a Sanskrit adaptation called the Tantropakhyana.
Only fragments of the original Sanskrit form of this work survive, but translations or adaptations exist in Tamil,  Lao,  Thai,  and Old Javanese.
In the 10th century Ibn al-Nadim compiled a catalogue of books the "Fihrist" in Baghdad. He noted that the Sassanid kings of Iran enjoyed "evening tales and fables".
Eventually one has the intelligence to save herself by telling him a story every evening, leaving each tale unfinished until the next night so that the king will delay her execution.
However, according to al-Nadim, the book contains only stories. He also writes disparagingly of the collection's literary quality, observing that "it is truly a coarse book, without warmth in the telling".
In the s, the Iraqi scholar Safa Khulusi suggested on internal rather than historical evidence that the Persian writer Ibn al-Muqaffa' was responsible for the first Arabic translation of the frame story and some of the Persian stories later incorporated into the Nights.
This would place genesis of the collection in the 8th century. In the midth century, the scholar Nabia Abbott found a document with a few lines of an Arabic work with the title The Book of the Tale of a Thousand Nights , dating from the 9th century.
This is the earliest known surviving fragment of the Nights. Some of the earlier Persian tales may have survived within the Arabic tradition altered such that Arabic Muslim names and new locations were substituted for pre-Islamic Persian ones, but it is also clear that whole cycles of Arabic tales were eventually added to the collection and apparently replaced most of the Persian materials.
One such cycle of Arabic tales centres around a small group of historical figures from 9th-century Baghdad, including the caliph Harun al-Rashid died , his vizier Jafar al-Barmaki d.
Another cluster is a body of stories from late medieval Cairo in which are mentioned persons and places that date to as late as the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
Two main Arabic manuscript traditions of the Nights are known: the Syrian and the Egyptian. The Syrian tradition is primarily represented by the earliest extensive manuscript of the Nights , a fourteenth- or fifteenth-century Syrian manuscript now known as the Galland Manuscript.
It and surviving copies of it are much shorter and include fewer tales than the Egyptian tradition. It is represented in print by the so-called Calcutta I — and most notably by the 'Leiden edition' Texts of the Egyptian tradition emerge later and contain many more tales of much more varied content; a much larger number of originally independent tales have been incorporated into the collection over the centuries, most of them after the Galland manuscript was written,  : 32 and were being included as late as in the 18th and 19th centuries, perhaps in order to attain the eponymous number of nights.
All extant substantial versions of both recensions share a small common core of tales: . The texts of the Syrian recension do not contain much beside that core.
It is debated which of the Arabic recensions is more "authentic" and closer to the original: the Egyptian ones have been modified more extensively and more recently, and scholars such as Muhsin Mahdi have suspected that this was caused in part by European demand for a "complete version"; but it appears that this type of modification has been common throughout the history of the collection, and independent tales have always been added to it.
The first printed Arabic-language edition of the One Thousand and One Nights was published in It contained an Egyptian version of The Nights known as "ZER" Zotenberg 's Egyptian Recension and tales.
No copy of this edition survives, but it was the basis for an edition by Bulaq, published by the Egyptian government. The Nights were next printed in Arabic in two volumes in Calcutta by the British East India Company in — Each volume contained one hundred tales.
Soon after, the Prussian scholar Christian Maximilian Habicht collaborated with the Tunisian Mordecai ibn al-Najjar to create an edition containing nights both in the original Arabic and in German translation, initially in a series of eight volumes published in Breslau in — A further four volumes followed in — In addition to the Galland manuscript, Habicht and al-Najjar used what they believed to be a Tunisian manuscript, which was later revealed as a forgery by al-Najjar.
Both the ZER printing and Habicht and al-Najjar's edition influenced the next printing, a four-volume edition also from Calcutta known as the Macnaghten or Calcutta II edition.
This claimed to be based on an older Egyptian manuscript which has never been found. In , a further Arabic edition appeared, containing tales from the Arabian Nights transcribed from a seventeenth-century manuscript in the Egyptian dialect of Arabic.
The first European version — was translated into French by Antoine Galland from an Arabic text of the Syrian recension and other sources.
He wrote that he heard them from the Christian Maronite storyteller Hanna Diab during Diab's visit to Paris. Galland's version of the Nights was immensely popular throughout Europe, and later versions were issued by Galland's publisher using Galland's name without his consent.
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 of this kind, such as that of Edward Lane , , were bowdlerized. In view of the sexual imagery in the source texts which Burton emphasized even further, especially by adding extensive footnotes and appendices on Oriental sexual mores  and the strict Victorian laws on obscene material, both of these translations were printed as private editions for subscribers only, rather than published in the usual manner.
Burton's original 10 volumes were followed by a further six seven in the Baghdad Edition and perhaps others entitled The Supplemental Nights to the Thousand Nights and a Night , which were printed between and It has, however, been criticized for its "archaic language and extravagant idiom" and "obsessive focus on sexuality" and has even been called an "eccentric ego-trip " and a "highly personal reworking of the text".
Later versions of the Nights include that of the French doctor J. Mardrus , issued from to It was translated into English by Powys Mathers , and issued in Like Payne's and Burton's texts, it is based on the Egyptian recension and retains the erotic material, indeed expanding on it, but it has been criticized for inaccuracy.
Muhsin Mahdi 's Leiden edition, based on the Galland Manuscript, was rendered into English by Husain Haddawy In a new English translation was published by Penguin Classics in three volumes.
It is translated by Malcolm C. Lyons and Ursula Lyons with introduction and annotations by Robert Irwin. This is the first complete translation of the Macnaghten or Calcutta II edition Egyptian recension since Burton's.
It contains, in addition to the standard text of Nights, the so-called "orphan stories" of Aladdin and Ali Baba as well as an alternative ending to The seventh journey of Sindbad from Antoine Galland 's original French.
As the translator himself notes in his preface to the three volumes, "177o attempt has been made to superimpose on the translation changes that would be needed to 'rectify' Moreover, it streamlines somewhat and has cuts.
In this sense it is not, as claimed, a complete translation. Scholars have assembled a timeline concerning the publication history of The Nights :   .
The One Thousand and One Nights and various tales within it make use of many innovative literary techniques , which the storytellers of the tales rely on for increased drama, suspense, or other emotions.
The One Thousand and One Nights employs an early example of the frame story , or framing device : the character Scheherazade narrates a set of tales most often fairy tales to the Sultan Shahriyar over many nights.
Many of Scheherazade's tales are themselves frame stories, such as the Tale of Sinbad the Seaman and Sinbad the Landsman , which is a collection of adventures related by Sinbad the Seaman to Sinbad the Landsman.
Another technique featured in the One Thousand and One Nights is an early example of the " story within a story ", or embedded narrative technique: this can be traced back to earlier Persian and Indian storytelling traditions, most notably the Panchatantra of ancient Sanskrit literature.
The Nights , however, improved on the Panchatantra in several ways, particularly in the way a story is introduced. In the Panchatantra , stories are introduced as didactic analogies, with the frame story referring to these stories with variants of the phrase "If you're not careful, that which happened to the louse and the flea will happen to you.
The general story is narrated by an unknown narrator, and in this narration the stories are told by Scheherazade. In most of Scheherazade's narrations there are also stories narrated, and even in some of these, there are some other stories.
Within the "Sinbad the Sailor" story itself, the protagonist Sinbad the Sailor narrates the stories of his seven voyages to Sinbad the Porter.
The device is also used to great effect in stories such as " The Three Apples " and " The Seven Viziers ". In yet another tale Scheherazade narrates, " The Fisherman and the Jinni ", the "Tale of the Wazir and the Sage Duban " is narrated within it, and within that there are three more tales narrated.
Dramatic visualization is "the representing of an object or character with an abundance of descriptive detail, or the mimetic rendering of gestures and dialogue in such a way as to make a given scene 'visual' or imaginatively present to an audience".
This technique is used in several tales of the One Thousand and One Nights ;  an example of this is the tale of " The Three Apples " see Crime fiction elements below.
A common theme in many Arabian Nights tales is fate and destiny. Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini observed: .
So a chain of anomalies is set up. And the more logical, tightly knit, essential this chain is, the more beautiful the tale. By 'beautiful' I mean vital, absorbing and exhilarating.
The chain of anomalies always tends to lead back to normality. The end of every tale in The One Thousand and One Nights consists of a 'disappearance' of destiny, which sinks back to the somnolence of daily life The protagonist of the stories is in fact destiny itself.
Though invisible, fate may be considered a leading character in the One Thousand and One Nights. Early examples of the foreshadowing technique of repetitive designation , now known as "Chekhov's gun", occur in the One Thousand and One Nights , which contains "repeated references to some character or object which appears insignificant when first mentioned but which reappears later to intrude suddenly in the narrative.
Another early foreshadowing technique is formal patterning , "the organization of the events, actions and gestures which constitute a narrative and give shape to a story; when done well, formal patterning allows the audience the pleasure of discerning and anticipating the structure of the plot as it unfolds.
Several tales in the One Thousand and One Nights use the self-fulfilling prophecy , as a special form of literary prolepsis, to foreshadow what is going to happen.
This literary device dates back to the story of Krishna in ancient Sanskrit literature , and Oedipus or the death of Heracles in the plays of Sophocles.
A variation of this device is the self-fulfilling dream, which can be found in Arabic literature or the dreams of Joseph and his conflicts with his brothers, in the Hebrew Bible.
A notable example is "The Ruined Man who Became Rich Again through a Dream", in which a man is told in his dream to leave his native city of Baghdad and travel to Cairo , where he will discover the whereabouts of some hidden treasure.
The man travels there and experiences misfortune, ending up in jail, where he tells his dream to a police officer. Shahryar and Scheherazade.
The Three Apples. The Tale of the Hunchback. The Vizier and the Sage Duban. Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. The Fisherman and the Jinni.
The Lovers of Bassorah. The Three Princes and the Princes Nouronnihar. The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor. Give us feedback. Read Next.
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