* Tales from the Thousand and One Nights (Penguin Ed.)

Book Review at Bean’s book blog:  We read this for our December book club and found that it was as much fun discussing the tales as it was comparing the translations.   The N.J. Dawood (Penguin) is a wonderful translation, far easier and more enjoyable than the classic Burton translation which feels stilted by comparison.  Because there are so many tales and so many versions, no two books contain exactly the same tales.  Though some tales date back to a Persian book of folk tales from the 900’s, many of the tales in this book come from the 1600-1800’s.  This book contains Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp and Sinbad and his Seven voyages, which has so many parallels to the Odyssey that clearly the original author either knew of Homer of knew the Odysseus story.   It also includes the Tale of the Hunchback which has many stories embedded into it much like the Canterbury Tales.  The famous  Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves is not in this version but The Historic Fart is!  These stories are fun and bawdy and give us some historical and cultural context of the East: the Sultans must be honored, Allah is all-powerful,  sex is almost as important as Allah, and money/riches/jewels bring power and status.   This was a fun read that whisked me away to far off lands filled with magic and jinees, and Caliphs and monsters, and superheroes, and the everyday man.

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