Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Galland Manuscript

The Galland Manuscript

This image is allegedly of the Galland manuscript from the wikipedia page for the Nights.  There is no attribution though so who knows.  It's the most often used image online of the manuscript though.

The often-called “Galland manuscript” is an Arabic language manuscript of the Nights in the Bibliotheque nationale in Paris France.  Its call numbers at the library are MSS arabes 3609, 3610 and 3611.  It is the oldest manuscript of the Nights in any language that contains any stories and people have dated it to somewhere around the 15th century AD.  This date is disputed however and some think it is written earlier in the 14th century.

It’s not clear who the author or scribe is (yet! maybe you can find out) or exactly where or when or how this manuscript came into being (besides allegedly being sent from Syria to Galland in 1701).

There are three volumes.

There are 282 “nights” and around 35 stories. 

I've never read about a certain title on this manuscript nor are the stories individually titled (can someone verify or refute this?) yet they are segmented into numbered “nights.” On the picture above however each section clearly says "Alf Layla wa Layla" in Arabic.

These volumes were in Antoine Galland’s personal library and he appeared to use them as the primary (but far from only) source for the beginning volumes of his French translation of the Nights which were titled Mille et une Nuits (1704-1717). (Thanks to JC for the dates of publication).

Galland received the Arabic manuscript volumes in 1701 while in France.  A friend seems to have brought from Syria, but was in France with them when Galland acquired them.

Galland had requested that his colleagues look for the complete or original Nights after he translated a stand-alone version of “Sindbad” (aka “Sinbad the Sailor and Sinbad the Porter” or several other related sounding/spelled titles) from Arabic into French that someone told him was a part of a larger body of work (the Nights).

The last story is known generally (though has several different spelling and other title variants) as “The Tale of Qamar al-Zaman and Budur” and does not have an ending.

In 1984 Muhsin Mahdi, a professor at Harvard, published an edited and collated version of this Arabic manuscript (along with a completed version of “Qamar al-Zaman”) in which he attempts to portray the oldest and most authentic Nights as anyone knew them.  His out of print three volume set from Brill consists of the manuscript, several essays in English, several indexes in Arabic including an intensive comparative index and a descriptive chapter of old manuscripts of the Nights and an introduction in Arabic of his theories regarding the various origins of the Nights.  This set is expensive when found but many major university libraries have a copy or have access to one.

In 1990 WW Norton published an English translation by Husain Haddawy of Mahdi’s recension titled The Arabian Nights consisting only of these oldest stories. 

In 2004 Claudia Ott translated this manuscript (using Mahdi’s edition) into German.  It was published in Europe under the title Tausendundeine Nacht.

Muhsin Mahdi writes about the acquisition of the G-Manuscript:

"He must have come across the information about the Nights some time between 25 February and 13 October 1701.  On the first date, he wrote a letter to Pierre-Daniel Huet referring to 'Sindbad':  'I also have another little translation from Arabic, stories just as good as the fairy tales published these last years in such profusion.'  On the second date, he wrote another letter to Huet where he mentions the Nights:  'Three of four days ago,' he says, 'a friend from Aleppo residing in Paris informed me by letter that he has received from his country a book in Arabic I had asked him to get for me.  It is in three volumes, entitled . . . The Thousand Nights.'  Even before seeing the manuscript, he describes the acquisition as 'a collection of stories people recite in the evening in that country [Syria]. . . . I asked this friend to keep it for me until I come to Paris, the cost of purchase and shipping being ten écus.  It will be something with which to amuse myself during the long [winter] nights.'

He traveled from Caen to Paris in December 1701 and took possession of the three-volume Syrian manuscript of the Nights (A) that would be named after him.  He seems to have started almost immediately to translate the work; for, in August 1702, he wrote to Gisbert Cuper:  'I have finished a clean copy of a six-hundred page work. . . . I had started it this year [1702] upon my return to Paris [in December 1701], working on it only after dinner. . . . This other work . . . is entitled The Thousand and One Nights, Arab Tales, Translated into French. . . . A thousand and one Nights!, and I have only finished seventy; this can give you an idea of the length of the entire work.'  By the end of the summer of 1702, therefore, he had finished a clean copy of the first two volumes of his Nuits, covering the first sixty-nine Nights or slightly more than the first volume of his Arabic manuscript.  These were published early in 1704, followed by the next four volumes in 1705.  The first volume contained the dedication to the Marquise d'O and an Avertissement exposing his appreciation of the Nights."

(19-20, Mahdi, The Thousand and One Nights, Leiden:  EJ Brill, 1995).

Feel free to add related bibliographic info (a short bibliography is listed below) and or other info or corrections in the comments section (or just email me too).  I’ve put only English and one Arabic resource below but I’m certain there are many more I’ve missed in all languages.

Table of Contents

Here is the table of contents as rendered in English by Husain Haddawy:

Prologue:  The Story of King Shahrayar and Shahrazad, His Vizier's Daughter

     The Tale of the Ox and the Donkey
     The Tale of the Merchant and His Wife

The Story of the Merchant and the Demon

     The First Old Man's Tale
     The Second Old Man's Tale

The Story of the Fisherman and the Demon

     The Tale of King Yunan and the Sage Duban
     The Tale of the Husband and the Parrot
     The Tale of the King's Son and the She-Ghoul
     The Tale of the Enchanted King

The Story of the Porter and the Three Ladies

     The First Dervish's Tale
     The Second Dervish's Tale
          The Tale of the Envious and the Envied
     The Third Dervish's Tale
     The Tale of the First Lady, the Flogged One

The Story of the Three Apples

     The Story of the Two Viziers, Nur al-Din Ali al-Misri and Badr al-Din Hasan al-Basri

The Story of the Hunchback

     The Christian Broker's Tale:  The Young Man with the Severed Hand and the Girl
     The Steward's Tale:  The Young Man from Baghdad and Lady Zubaida's Maid
     The Jewish Physician's Tale:  The Young Man from Mosul and the Murdered Girl
     The Tailor's Tale:  The Lame Young Man from Baghdad and the Barber
          The Barber's Tale
               The Tale of the First Brother, the Hunchbacked Tailor
               The Tale of the Second Brother, Baqbaqa the Paraplegic
               The Tale of the Third Brother, Faqfaq the Blind
               The Tale of the Fourth Brother, the One-Eyed Butcher
               The Tale of the Fifth Brother, the Cropped of Ears
               The Tale of the Sixth Brother, the Cropped of Lips

The Story of Nur al-Din Ali ibn Bakkar and the Slave-Girl Shams al-Nahar

The Story of the Slave-Girl Anis al-Jalis and Nur al-Din Ali ibn-Khaqan

The Story of Jullanar of the Sea

The Story of Qamar al-Zaman (missing an ending in the G-manuscript)

Bibliography Specific to the Galland Manuscript:


Wollamshram's Blog Post on the breakdown of the volumes and contents of Galland's (French) Nights:

See also the relevant sections from the following books:

The Arabian Nights Handbook
by Robert Irwin

Eastern Dreams by Paul McMichael Nurse

And the entries “Manuscripts,” “Galland, Antoine,” and “Sindbad the Seaman” in The Arabian Nights Encyclopedia (volumes one and two) edited by Ulrich Marzolph and Richard van Leeuwen.

Reynolds, Dwight F. "A Thousand and One Nights: a history of the text and its reception." Arabic Literature in the Post-Classical Period. Eds. Roger Allen and D. S. Richards. Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Grotzfeld, Heinz.  “The Age of the Galland Manuscript of the Nights:  Numismatic Evidence for Dating a Manuscript.”  Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies I:  50-64.  1996-7.

And the following oldies but goodies from Duncan MacDonald:

“The Story of the Fisherman and the Jinni:  Transcribed from Galland’s MS of ‘The Thousand and One Nights.’”  Orientalische Studien:  Th.  Noldeke zum 70.  Geburtstag gewidmet, ed. by Carl Bezold.  Giessen:  Toepelmann, 357-383.  1906.

“Lost Manuscripts of the ‘Arabian Nights’ and a Projected Edition of that of Galland.”  Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society:  219-221.

“A Preliminary Classification of Some Mss. of the Arabian Nights.”  A Volume of Oriental Studies:  Presented to Edward G. Browne on his 60th Birthday.  Eds. Thomas W. Arnold and Reynold A. Nicholson.  Cambridge:  Cambridge UP, 304-321.  1922.

“The Earlier History of the Arabian Nights.”  Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 353-397.

“A Bibliographical and Literary Study of the First Appearance of the Arabian Nights in Europe.”  Library Quarterly 2:  387-420.  1932.

In Arabic Muhsin Mahdi has a collection of manuscript descriptions including the Galland manuscript in volume II of The Thousand and One Nights from the Earliest Known Sources.  Leiden:  Brill.  1984.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Arabian Nights by Wafa Tarnowska

picture from Barefoot Books website linked below

Barefoot Books has recently (Oct) released yet another new version of the Nights.  This one comes to us from author Wafa Tarnowska and is geared toward children.  I read a review on Amazon that the author translated from an "original" 14th century manuscript.  Unless the author has a secret manuscript though I doubt this is the case as the oldest manuscript has been dated to the 1500s.  In addition she puts "Aladdin" in her version and as you know the story's first appearance was in French in the early 1700s.

It would be interesting to see how this book revisions the Nights for children.

There is a pdf interview on the publisher's website but it's really vague and general along the lines of "the stories in the Nights have adventures" and "my grandmother used to tell me stories from the Nights" and "the Nights are related to today because of the Middle East."

Here's the website:

Merry Xmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Review of The Islamic Context of The Thousand and One Nights

The Journal of Folklore Research has a new book review up on Muhsin J. al-Musawi's 2009 book The Islamic Context of The Thousand and One Nights.

The review is vast and lengthy and is written by Hasan El-Shamy, Professor at Indiana University and author of the 2006 book A Motif Index of The Thousand and One Nights, a specialized academic resource of tale types found in the Nights.

I haven't read the entirety of al-Musawi's book but I have it at home from the library.  It seems to be one of the few lengthy treatments of the topic (Islam & the Nights) though it also suffers, I think, from some of the generalizations of most Nights scholarship (ie does not necessarily treat individual variants of the Nights as idiosyncratic pieces of a much larger and looser literature instead relying on the Nights in a very broad sense).

El-Shamy's review can be read in its entirety here:

Here is an excerpt:

"The chapters are logically arranged to present a sequence of historical and sociocultural developments as depicted in or inferred from the Nights as literature rather than folklore, written or oral. Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 7 address the Islamic Factor: in "Global Times" (25), as "the Unifying [...] Factor" (52), its role in "the Age of Muslim Empire and the Burgeoning of a Text" (106), and in "Scheherazade's Nonverbal Narratives in Religious Contexts" (250), respectively. In this context, "Global Times" signifies fraternity beyond ethnic and similar social distinctions (21). Meanwhile, chapter 5 discusses "Nonreligious Displacements in Popular Tradition," emphasizing the dichotomous patterning between the court and street or the rich and the poor (197), and between the secular and the religious (214, 231, cf. 224 where the fantastic partakes of the religious). Two chapters (4 and 6) are dedicated to the influence the population exerted on the formation of this narrative anthology; they bear the titles "the Role of the Public in The Thousand and One Nights," where the "readers" and their preferences are discussed (145), and "The Public Role in Islamic Narrative Theorizations" (228), respectively. Al-Musawi labels this cultural phenomenon associated with a readership the "urban mind," and points out that it distinguished Baghdad from the eighth to twelfth centuries C.E., and Mamluk Cairo later (6, 8, 22).

It is that "urban mind" and its desire to read 'asmâr (nightly entertainments) and hikâyât (tales) that motivated the movement among some elite to gather and re-write oral traditional folktales that came to be attributed to Sheherazade's oral tale-telling skills. Al-Musawi explains: "The effort to address a reading public is central to the [narrative] art, however, for it manifests both the damage done to the oral tradition... and the desire among some of the literati to dig into the marginalized culture or to refine it through acceptable embeddings and translated framing narratives" (230-231)."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Aladdin (film) Bibliography

UC Berkeley's Library has a great list of resources and bibliographic information on representations of race in other works, especially film at their website here:

Part of their list is on the Disney film Aladdin and most of the material in their bibliography is (like most all info written on the film) focused on the "representation of Arabs" in the film.

I've pasted their bibliography below though if you go through the UCB website ( you'll have direct access to many of the articles for free if you are online via your local university's library website and even more if you are a UC user.  I've also deleted their annotations on this list to avoid plagiarizing and I'll be adding more to the list as there are several articles not listed on their website and articles not dealing with Orientalism that should be on this list.  So!  If you are studying the film Aladdin come here and go there!  Recheck citations too for any papers you use these in.

Addison, Erin.  "Saving Other Women from Other Men: Disney's Aladdin." Camera Obscura: A Journal of Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies, vol. 31. 1993 Jan-May. pp: 5-25.

"'Aladdin' Bows to a Protest." New York Times v142, sec1 (Sun, July 11, 1993):9(N), 16(L), col 4, 8 col in.
"'Aladdin' Song Lyrics Altered." Facts on File v53, n2747 (July 22, 1993):552.
Anwar, Farrah.  "Aladdin." Sight and Sound Dec 1993 v3 n12 p38(2).

Bannon, Lisa.  "How a Rumor Spread About Subliminal Sex in Disney's 'Aladdin"', The Wall Street Journal, l0/24/95.

Britt, Donna.  "2 Films Spin Their Own Special Magic.” Washington Post v115 (Fri, Nov 13, 1992):D1, col 1, 18 col in.

Cooperson, Michael. “The Monstrous Births of Aladdin.” The Arabian Nights Reader. Ulrich Marzolph, ed. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 2006: 265-282.

Corliss, Richard.  "Aladdin's Magic." Time v140, n19 (Nov 9, 1992):74 (3 pages).

Corrigan, Don.  "Aladdin - Like Much of U.S. Entertainment and Media - is Flawed by Stereotypes." St. Louis Journalism Review v22, n153 (Feb, 1993):13 (2 pages).

Felperin Sharman, Leslie.  "New Aladdins for Old." Sight & Sound ( III/11, Nov 93; p.12-15).

Felperin, Leslie.  "The Thief of Buena Vista: Disney's Aladdin and Orientalism."  A reader in animation studies / edited by Jayne Pilling. London : J. Libbey, c1997.

Fox, David J.  "Disney Will Alter Song in 'Aladdin.'" Los Angeles Times v112 (Sat, July 10, 1993):F1, col 5, 17 col in.

Geist, Kenneth.  "Aladdin."  Films in Review March-April 1993 v44 n3-4 p127(2)

Gorchev, Leila.  "When Will it be Okay to be an Arab?" Washington Post v116 (Sun, Dec 27, 1992):C7, col 2, 16 col in.

Irwin, Robert.  "Aladdin." TLS. Times Literary Supplement Dec 24, 1993 n4734 p14(2)

"It's Racist, But Hey, It's Disney."  New York Times v142 (Wed, July 14, 1993):A14(N), A18(L), col 1, 6 col in.

Klawans, Stuart.  "Aladdin." The Nation Dec 7, 1992 v255 n19 p713(4).

Kraidy, M.M.  "Intertextual Maneuvers around the Subaltern: Aladdin as a Postmodern Text," in C. Degli-Esposti (ed.) Postmodernism in the Cinema, pp. 44-59. New York: Berghahn Books, 1998.

Kreck, Dick. "Is 'Aladdin' More Than Meets Ear?" The Denver Post, 4 June 1994.

Macleod, Dianne Sachko. "The Politics of Vision: Disney, Aladdin, and the Gulf War."  The Emperor's old groove: decolonizing Disney's Magic Kingdom / edited by Brenda Ayres. pp: 179-91. New York: P. Lang, 2003.

Maslin, Janet.  "Aladdin." The New York Times Nov 11, 1992 v142.

Phillips, Jerry.  "Telling Tales to Children: The Pedagogy of Empire in MGM's Kim and Disney's Aladdin." The Lion and the Unicorn: A Critical Journal of Children's Literature vol. 20 no. 1. 1996 June. pp: 66-89.

Nadel Alan.  "A whole new (Disney) world order: Aladdin, atomic power, and the Muslim Middle East." Visions of the East: orientalism in film / edited by Matthew Bernstein and Gaylyn Studlar. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, c1997.

Phillips, Jerry and Ian Wojcik-Andrews.  "Telling Tales to Children: The Pedagogy of Empire in MGM's Kim and Disney's Aladdin." The Lion and the Unicorn 20.1 (1996) 66-89.

Rossmiller, David. "Get Naked? Aladdin Allegedly Makes Crude Remark."The Phoenix Gazette, 12 March 1994.

Scheinin, Richard.  "Angry Over 'Aladdin."  Washington Post v116 (Sun, Jan 10, 1993):G1, col 1, 36 col in.

Shaheen, Jack.  "Aladdin: Animated Racism." Cineaste, vol. 20 no. 1. 1993. pp: 49.

Scheinin, Richard.  "In Its New "Family Film," Disney Clobbers Arabs-Again!" The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. May 2004. Vol. 23, Iss. 4; p. 66.

Schmidt, Carolyn Speer.  "Not just Disney : destructive stereotypes of Arabs in children's literature." Arabs in the Americas : interdisciplinary essays on the Arab diaspora / edited by Darcy A. Zabel. New York : Peter Lang, c2006.

Sharman, Leslie Felperin.  "New Aladdins for Old." Sight and Sound v3, n11 (Nov, 1993):12 (4 pages).

Simon, John.  "Aladdin." National Review Dec 14, 1992 v44 n24 p53(2)

Staninger, Christiane.  "Disney's Magic Carpet Ride: Aladdin and Women in Islam."  The emperor's old groove: decolonizing Disney's Magic Kingdom / edited by Brenda Ayres. pp: 65-77. New York: P. Lang, c2003.

White, Timothy R. and J. E. Winn.  "Islam, Animation and Money: The Reception of Disney's Aladdin in Southeast Asia." Kinema, Spring 1995.

Wise, Christopher.  "Notes from the Aladdin Industry: Or, Middle Eastern Folklore in the Era of Multinational Capitalism." The emperor's old groove: decolonizing Disney's Magic Kingdom / edited by Brenda Ayres. pp: 105-14 New York: P. Lang, c2003.

Master Bibliography

This page will be the page where all bibliographic lists will be linked.  I'm a bit wary of making categories because there is just so much written on the Nights that an article or book would be able to fit in several but I'll try and make the categories as loose as possible, with annotations below.

Beginner's Bibliography
This is less of a strict bibliography and more of a "starting point" list I made for books and articles I would recommend to anyone beginning to study the Nights (or even those of you at an advanced-Nights level).

Aladdin (film) Bibliography
A list of articles and books on the Disney film Aladdin.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

1001 Nights of Pleasure (1972)

From 1001 Nights

This is an Italian film I haven't seen yet (a French poster for it) with (according to the fun review posted below) has little to do with the Nights (though it has an interesting take on the frame story to be sure), is not that overtly erotic (yet is marketed as being so) and does not feature prominently, as promised, the film star Barbara Bouchet (  What can you do.  Perfect variant of the Nights?

Here's a snippet of the review:

"1001 Nights of Pleasure aka (Finalmente... le mille e una notte or Les mille et une nuits érotiques) is a film that not only advertises Barbara Bouchett as the lead star on posters and DVD covers but also gives her top billing in the opening credits; shockingly she doesn't make an appearance until about 3/4th's of the way through.  To describe this film quickly and bluntly it's simply pure sleaze, an Italian sex comedy with a lot of implied sex and not a whole lot of comedy, at least nothing I found very amusing.  The basic plot of the film is an Arabia sultan receives a new beautiful slave (played by the second and only other good looking woman in the film Femi Benussi) only to discover he's got a serious case of erectile dysfunction (wonder how many Google hits I'll get off of that!?!).  In an attempt to regain the use of his manhood he issues a proclamation for people in the city to tell him an erotic story, if they fail to arouse him they will be beheaded."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Eastern Dreams review in

Here is an excerpt from a recent review of Paul Nurse's Eastern Dreams in The Toronto Star newspaper and website.  It's an ok review, some critique of the academic nature of the language but overall a positive one.  A link to the review follows the snippet and the artwork is linked from the Star as well.

Published On Fri Nov 26 2010

Susan Goldenberg

"Among the interesting points:

 • Why is a book with nowhere near 1,001 stories (less than a third, actually) widely known as The Thousand and One Nights? Nurse explains that in ancient Arabic society, 1,000 “denoted the highest number attainable.” Thus, 1,000 denoted infinity or a never-ending story. As for why 1,001, Muslims considered odd numbers “to be intrinsically worthier” than even figures. “From the classical Muslim perspective, Scheherazade, to make her stories worthy, to imbue them with luck, required an extra night,” Nurse writes.

 • The world’s most famous Arabic storybook, Nurse points out, is actually “a compendium of tales culled from India, Persia, Arabia, Ottoman Turkey and Egypt, probably infused as well with stories from Hebrew, Greek and Roman sources.” For example: The striking similarity between Sinbad’s fight with a carnivorous, one-eyed giant and Odysseus’s battle with the Cyclops Polyphemus in The Odyssey.

 • The popular stories of Sinbad, Aladdin and Ali-Baba and the Forty Thieves were not part of the original but picked up from various Arabic sources by Frenchman Antoine Galland, “the man who brought Nights to the West” with his translations in the early 1700s. Galland is responsible for the often used shorthand title Arabian Nights because, as a shrewd marketer, he capitalized on the West’s fascination with the “East,” particularly Arabia.

 • Nights influenced Western literary greats Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen and Charles Dickens. In “The Christmas Tree,” Dickens enthused about the impact on children: “All common things become uncommon and enchanted. All lamps are wonderful; all rings are talismans.” Edgar Allan Poe concocted “The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade,” in which she tells her husband about a land resembling the 19th-century Western world. He goes along with her talking about such inventions as the telegraph and steam power, but is enraged when she describes a woman’s bustle. Regarding it as beyond acceptable boundaries, he orders her execution after all.

 • There are marked similarities between Nights’ Sinbad and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

 • The Arab world is ambivalent about Nights because of its often violent and sexual content, feeling that it gives a bad impression. Still, Nights is popular reading among the inmates at Guantanamo along with another set of fanciful books, Harry Potter.

Susan Goldenberg is a Toronto author and freelance writer."

link to article:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Great World Texts in Wisconsin - The Arabian Nights

I posted a bit before about this great yearlong teaching program that the Center for the Humanites at the University of Wisconsin is having on the Nights.

They are conducting a "1 book" teaching program throughout the state in both high schools and colleges focusing on the Nights that culminates with a final conference in which the participants share their experiences teaching the Nights.

They have recently updated their website with all kinds of great things like teaching ideas, an extensive sample curriculum and several Internet resources (including, and it's an honor, this humble blog!).

Check it out!:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

McLoughlin's Aladdin

1001 Thanks to JC for passing on some great scans from McLoughlin's Aladdin book series that I mentioned in this post:

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Annenberg Media's The Thousand and One Nights

Annenberg Media and have this extensive series of television shows introducing several great works of world literature, including The 1001 Nights.  Many of them have aired on PBS stations throughout the country.

I was interviewed for the show at length but alas there is no mention of it or the blog on their website or show.  That's show business I guess!

Their show is a decent, if a bit general, introduction to the Nights by several Nights related scholars and artists and you can watch it in its entirety at their website, which also has several good sections on teaching the Nights.

Here is their website:

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Thief of Bagdad (1940)

Here is the Alexander Korda produced film from 1940 The Thief of Bagdad on youtube (in its entirety with a short ad beforehand).

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ali Baba - Andy Kohlmann

Here is the song "Ali Baba" by electronic musician/dj Andy Kohlmann (

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Thief of Bagdad (1940)

Some pictures, posters and related items I found listed for sale on ebay from the 1940 Alexander Korda produced The Thief of Bagdad (1940).

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In Bad With Sinbad

"In Bad With Sinbad" - by Frank Dailey & his Stop & Go Orchestra (1930s).

This is a great big band era song that I don't know too much about, if anyone can add any info about the song or the band please do in the comments section. The song might be related to the book by the same name by Arthur Stringer though again I'm not sure at the moment!

some more info on Frank Dailey:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Eastern Dreams by Paul Nurse, review

My review of Paul Nurse's Eastern Dreams: How the Arabian Nights Came to the World (2010) published by Penguin/Viking Canada is now online at the Journal of Folklore Research.

You can read the review here:

Paul Nurse's book has been out for several months now but is limited in its release to primarily Canada, which, given the book's scope and applicability, is too bad. Perhaps future editions will be given a wider distribution. You can, however, buy it from Amazon Canada with your Amazon user ID from the US or anywhere (

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Arabian Adventure

My award for creepiest film genie goes to Milton Reid (see his bio: who was also involved in an Aladdin film and an adult film version of the Nights as well as a couple of James Bond movies.

You can witness his genie in the cursorily Nights related 1979 film Arabian Adventure (, which, like most Nights films has little to do with the Nights but features flying carpets, a genie, an evil wazir and other assorted Hollywood Orientalismos.

The movie, by the way, features a big name cast: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Mickey Rooney and John Ratzenberger (Cliff!), among many others, and is directed by Kevin Connor, director of one of my favorite 80s horror flicks Motel Hell.

Here's the genie clip from youtube:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pasolini's Il Fiore Online

For those of you with access to Netflix ( the online dvd rental company now has a streaming version of Pasolini's 1974 movie Il Fiore Delle Mille e Una Notte (

The film on netflix is in Italian with English subtitles. It is a fairly rare, out of print film and rated NC-17 though the sexuality is not over the top. The movie does, however, have lots of naked people!

I'm not sure how netflix works with non-USA users (can you buy a subscription only to watch their extensive online collection?) or if it's even possible. I know there are several "torrent" versions available but many of the torrent sites are unreliable. Google videos removed a free version I had posted a link to a long while ago.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time, The Arabian Nights

Here's a great audio interview/synopsis of the history of the Nights from the BBC with Interviewer Melvyn Bragg, Robert Irwin, author of The Arabian Nights: A Companion and Professors Marina Warner and Gerard van Gelder.

Some text from the page:

"Melvyn Bragg discusses the myths, tales and legends of the Arabian Nights.

Once upon a time a wealthy merchant grew hot in the sun and sat down under a tree. Having eaten a date, he threw aside the stone, and immediately there appeared before him a Genie of enormous height who, holding a drawn sword in his hand, approached him, and said, “rise that I may kill thee”.

This is from The Arabian Nights, a collection of miraculous tales including Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and Sinbad the Sailor. Forged in the medieval Arab world, it became so popular in Europe that the 18th century Gothic writer Horace Walpole declared “Read Sinbad the Sailor’s Voyages and you will grow sick of Aeneas”.

Its origins are Indian and Persian but it was championed initially by an 18th century Frenchman, Antoine Galland. Celebrated for its fabulous stories, it is a patchwork of sex, violence, magic, adventure, and cruelty – a far cry from the children’s book that it has become.

With Robert Irwin, Senior Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; Marina Warner, Professor in the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex; Gerard van Gelder, Laudian Professor of Arabic at the University of Oxford."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Aladdin's Lamp

From 1001 Nights

I came across this great picture of a book that is currently up for "adoption" by the American Antiquarian Society ( where you can adopt books for preservation.

The book's information from the website:

Adopted by Cleota Reed

Aladdin or the wonderful lamp. (Little Delights). New York: McLoughlin Bros., [ca. 1868-1874]

This copy of Aladdin is an excellent example of McLoughlin Bros.' attractive editions of fairy tales in an economical eight-page format.
~ Laura Wasowicz

Sunday, October 10, 2010

1001 Nights in Croatia

Booksellers in Croatia are finding it hard to keep copies of the Arabian Nights on the shelves and several publishers are filling the gaps by producing more versions there.  This run on the Nights though has little to do with the book and more to do with the Turkish Soap Opera called Binbir Gece ( even though the TV show has little to do with the story collection (has that ever stopped anyone from using the name??).  Turkish Soap Operas are a craze unto their own as followers of the hit show Nour will readily tell you ( but this current Nights-craze is a precedent.  Publishers are not speaking out against the sales of the books despite the discrepancy between the show and the text however...neither are the Turkish language classes in Croatia...

More from

"Bookstores riding the wave of 'Arabian Nights-mania'

Croatian Times
Turkish soap opera fans have been snapping up editions of a book with the same name as their favourite TV series, only to find it has nothing to do with the soap.

The book "One Thousand and One Nights" (or Arabian Nights) is now the country’s most sought after title with thousands flying off the shelves every day, despite it having no connection to the popular soap.

But bookstores are keeping hush about the mix up as orders mount up, with one shop even issuing a golden edition with 736 pages and 38 illustrations.

But customers seem happy saying that the soap opera which tells the story of a beautiful architect and her boss has clearly used the book for inspiration as it borrows numerous romantic quotes from the book."

more here:

Retailers cashing in on Croatia´s obsession with Turkish soap

Croatian Times
Just like the movie "Eat,Pray,Love" has popularized travel tours by the same name, the Turkish soap opera "1,001 nights" has Croatians learning Turkish and flying to Istanbul.

Retailers, tour operators and language schools are cashing in on Croatia's obsession with the romantic affair between gorgeous architect Scheherazade and her boss, Onur. The two protagonists have the nation glued to their TV sets every night of the week at 8pm.

Zagreb school of foreign languages "Sjajna zvijezda" has registered a large interest in the Turkish language. In the last week or two, 50 people signed up to learn; demand has never been so high.

"Our new clients are mainly young women below 30 who are not afraid to admit being motivated by their favourite the TV series. They come having picked up a few words from the show, like "merhaba" (good day) or "iyi geceler" (good evening)," says the school's director Jasmin Selihovic.

Merchandise produced by opportunistic retailers showing pictures of the characters has been flying off the shelves. A shirt with Scheherazade's portrait is selling for 13.5 Euros.

"In addition to the fact that they sell well, they bring a smile to everyone in the shopping center," says a sales attendant in WGW boutique.

Even publishing houses are profiting from the renewed interest in the Arabian classic "1001 nights," a collection of fairy tales and stories from which the series takes its name.

And the Kompas travel agency said that the charter flight from Split to Istanbul on 7th of October has been sold out partly thanks to the popularity of the soap.

"Even though the flight was opened earlier, the space filled up during the showing of the last few episodes of the series," said agency's director Ivan Puksar who is planning another four-day excursion to Istanbul that will include some of the shooting locations, says Croatian internet portal Dalje."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Rock as Sinbad

Casting has already begun for the upcoming 3D blockbuster based on the Nights and brought to you by several of the people who were responsible for The Mummy and its offspring.

The latest news has Dwayne Johnson (aka the wrestler known as "The Rock") set to play Sinbad.  Just when the poor hapless (and largely lucky) seafarer felt like he needed more muscles Hollywood steps in to chisel them out.  The more action/adventure warrior Sinbad is remade as the further his character gets away from the original sailor.

This movie is setting up to be even more bizarrely related to the stories of the Nights than the film it is purported to be based on (Maria Montez and Sabu's 1942 Technicolor Arabian Nights (

Here's more about the Rock's role:

From Screenrant:  (

"Sinbad will be one of three main characters in the upcoming 3D film adaptation of Arabian Nights, directed by Chuck Russell (who previously directed Johnson in The Scorpion King). If Dwayne Johnson agrees to play the badass sailor, he’ll be joining Liam Hemsworth (brother of Thor star Chris Hemsworth) as the main protagonist and Anthony Hopkins as the evil sorcerer Pharotu, murderer of Sinbad’s mermaid girlfriend.

And they say movies aren’t realistic anymore…

The overall plot for Arabian Nights, according to Russell (via Variety), is as follows:
“[A] young commander who, after his king is killed in a palace coup, joins forces with Sinbad, Alladin, and his genie to rescue Scheherazade and her kingdom from dark powers.”
Russell goes on to say that using top of the line 3D technology he’ll be giving audiences a carpet ride like they’ve never seen before. Really, Russell? I mean, is it even possible to top Disney’s Aladdin? Highly unlikely!"

and from Worst

and cinemablend:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Tomb of Sir Richard Francis Burton

Here is a video of someone walking up to the tomb of Nights translator Richard F. Burton in Mortlake, London, England.  As you can see (only briefly at the end of the video) the tomb is in the style of an Arabian tent.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Chagall's Nights Paintings sold at Auction

From 1001 Nights

Thanks to JC for the scan of his book!

Many thanks to JC for passing on this Christie's auction to me.  Unfortunately I took so long to post it it has ended (ended on 9/15/10).  I'm pretty sure though anyone who would be willing to spend 200K UK on these paintings would have known about it already!

The auction's details are quoted below with some background on the Nights.

Info on Chagall:

Auction info: (link:

Book version history from JC:  "The Chagall Four Tales from the Arabian Nights has been reproduced a couple of times.  The original publication was in 1948 by Pantheon Books of New York.  There were two states, a deluxe edition of 21.  It was numbered I-X and lettered A-K.  Each portfolio contained 13 signed lithographs along with text and line drawings.  The pages were loose.  The other state is the numbered and signed edition of 90 lithographs.  Only 12 of the litho's were included in this set.  This is the set Christie's has up of auction.

In 1988 Prestel of Munich reproduced the litho's and text.  All 13 lithos are included along with the line drawings.  I believe that they had previously released the book in German in 1987.  In 1999 the book was released again, in a reduced size.  The 1988 version is the one to have as the reproductions are larger than the later book's. "

Auction information from Christie's:

"Price Realized
  • £217,250
  • ($336,738)
Lot Description
Marc Chagall
Four Tales from the Arabian Nights (Mourlot 36-48; Cramer books 18)
the complete set of 12 lithographs printed in colours, 1948, on laid paper, each signed in pencil, inscribed with the plate number and numbered 70/90 (there was also a deluxe edition of ten with an additional plate and progessive proofs of the lithographs, and 11 hors commerce-copies), published by Pantheon Books, New York, 1948, the full sheets, most with deckle edges at right, generally in very good condition, framed
L. 375 x 280 mm. (and similar), S. 430 x 330 mm.

Special Notice
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 17.5% on the buyer's premium.

Lot Notes
The Arabian Nights, more accurately known as One Thousand and One Nights, is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. The work as we have it was collected over many centuries by various authors, translators and scholars across the Middle East and North Africa. Though the oldest Arabic manuscript dates from the 14th century, scholars generally date the collection's genesis to around the 9th century.

The main frame story concerns a Persian king and his new bride, Scheherazade, who tells a succession of stories, night after night, in an effort to postpone the threat of execution. The tales vary widely: they include historical tales, love stories, tragedies, comedies, poems, burlesques and various forms of erotica. Numerous stories depict djinns, magicians, and legendary places, which are often intermingled with real people and geography, not always rationally. 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.

Marc Chagall, arguably the pre-eminent colour lithographer of his age, began his relationship with the medium in Four Tales from the Arabian Nights. As in his later illustration series, Chagall conceived the pictures as augmentations of the text, serving to arouse the interest of both the reader and the viewer. It has come to be regarded as one of his finest essays in the medium of lithography, in large part because the literary source required no change in the artist's style. Chagall found himself confronted by a text which inspired and responded to his art like no other."

Aladdin Bail Bonds

Here in California there is a prominent Bail Bonds company called Aladdin. It's a fitting name I guess, like the genie they can get you out of jail?

Their parent company is called "Two Jinn Inc."!

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

grad course this fall @ csu northridge

Came across (thanks to Paul!) this upcoming graduate level course on the Nights at California State University Northridge taught by Dr. Charles Hatfield.

It looks like a great overview of the Nights and includes a lot of fun stuff like films and graphic novels as well as the academic stuff. The website has a lot of info and a good looking bibliography as well.

Here is the link:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

restaurant city

This week is Arabian Nights week on Restaurant City, the online, possibly (not sure myself) Facebook only, pseudo-virtual reality restaurant game.

It's kind of a cash game which starts as free but if you want to add as many bells and whistles as you can (for your own gratification) you can but it will cost you cash, most of the Arabian Nights gear and most of the any special week gear costs real money, though the game can also be played for 'free', (but not with the really cool add-ons available!).


Wednesday, September 1, 2010


A new, free, online adventure game based in an Arabian Nights genre world is set to be released shortly. It's called Nadirim and seems to be like a World of Warcraft/D&D type of ongoing online adventure game though I'm not too familiar with these types of games.

You can be a certain type of 'class' of person, a warrior, nomad, caravan master, ruffian or sage.

And it looks like you have to contend with Djinn and all sorts of other vaguely Nights-related elements.

From their website:  "Nadirim is a free-to-play, browser-based, massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) placed in a fantasy world inspired by the tales of the Arabian Nights. Explore Nadirim and its unique world of Arabian myths and fables to immerse yourself in an online role playing experience that has never been brought to browser platforms before! The game takes the player into the world of the Arabian Nights, a world that is fictional in geographical and historical terms but incorporates the best known elements of Arabian fables and mythology like djinns, adventurous thieves, mysterious princesses, potions, alchemy, and — of course — heroes and villains."

And their website (game in Beta):

And their cool video:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

1001 Nights Radio Show (in Arabic)

The blogger Zeinobia at her great blog Egyptian Chronicles has been posting radio clips of the 1001 Nights in Arabic.  During Ramadan in the Middle East it is common for family and friends to gather to watch special TV serials and radio shows and the 1001 Nights both on TV and the Radio has been a staple of the holy month for years, particularly in Egypt.

Here is the Barber of Bagdad, for more postings on her blog click the link '1001' below this post.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pasolini's Nights

A variety of movie posters from Pier Paolo Pasolini's il fiore delle mille e una notte (Its boring English title: Arabian Nights).

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

From 1001 Nights

Monday, August 23, 2010

HD - The Walls Do Not Fall

Recently came across this subtle reference to the Nights in a poem by HD (

The poem is called "The Walls Do Not Fall" and this is part 5:

When in the company of the gods,
I loved and was loved,

never was my mind stirred
to such rapture,

my heart moved
to such pleasure,

as now, to discover
over Love, a new master:

His, the track in the sand
from a plum-tree in flower

to a half-open hut-door,
(or track would have been,

but wind blows sand-prints from the sand,
whether seen or unseen):

His, the Genius in the jar
which the Fisherman finds,

He is Mage,
bringing myrrh.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Manuscript Discovery for 101 Nights

I'm not too familiar with the story collection known as "One Hundred and One Nights" which, according to The Arabian Nights Encyclopedia originated from North Africa and contains some elements of the familiar stories from some of the oldest versions of the 1001 Nights.  If someone can point toward a copy for sale somewhere online or elsewhere I'd appreciate it (it's only in Arabic and French I believe).

From the encyclopedia:  "The work is structured as a frame story resembling the frame story of the Arabian Nights, with the motifs of adultery, the cycle of marriage and execution, and the figures of Shahrazad and Dinarzad (Dunyazad).  The collection contains eighteen stories.  These stories are similar to well-known stories in the Arabian Nights such as Uns al-Wujud and al-Ward fi'l-Akman, Ni'ma and Nu'm, The Three Apples, and Hasan of Basra.  The Mi'at Layla wa-layla also contains versions of the Book of Sindbad, The Ebony Horse, and The City of Brass" (vol 2 594-5).

The encyclopedia also says these stories were written in the 19th century, well after the main known Arabic versions of the 1001 Nights.

A recent news article featuring German scholar and translator Claudia Ott suggests that she has found a manuscript of the 101 Nights which predates even Galland's Syrian manuscript which is, if true, one of the most significant manuscript findings in the Nights' history.  The article suggests that this 101 Nights' manuscript dates from the 13th century which, apart from the Nabia Abbott fragment, would be the oldest manuscript for any stories relating to the 1001 Nights.

Whether or not this manuscript is indeed as old as they are claiming and what stories it contains remains to be seen but it is a very very interesting development nonetheless.

Here is the link to the article/interview with Ott:

from the article:

"However, there are divergent opinions on the relationship between the two books. There is already a critical edition of the "101 Nights" based on much more recent manuscripts from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, whose publisher, Mahmud Tarshuna, claims that "101 Nights" is the substantially older and more original text. His argument uses motifs from the framing narrative to claim that the "101 Nights" is closer to the Sanskrit and Pali texts of their old Indian literary sources than "1001 Nights" is.

But we also have some very old sources for "1001 Nights". In Chicago in 1949, a double sheet of paper was discovered in a pile of papyrus that had been brought back from Egypt. It bore the title "Thousand Nights" ("alf layla" in Arabic) and the beginning of a description of one night. The double sheet is a palimpsest dated 879. Its origins are evidently not Egyptian, where papyrus was still preferred to paper at that time, but Syrian."


"This also fits with what the Arabic sources tell us. Contemporary booksellers reports make it clear that a complete version, with 1000 Nights, must already have existed in the 9th century. Over the centuries several fragments of the work have been found, each of which have probably looked rather different from one another. The 1001st night was probably added in the early 12th century. In a notebook, discovered by chance in the Geniza in a synagogue in Cairo, there is the first known mention of the complete title on a lending note from around 1150: "Alf layla wa-layla" – "The Thousand and One Nights".

So I am convinced that "101Nights" and "1001 Nights" are part of a parallel tradition. "The Hundred and One Nights" and "The Thousand and One Nights" were contemporaneous with one another, the one probably better known in the west, the other in the east of the Arabian world. But all of this is something that requires further investigation. A magnificent chapter in Arab literary history has just been reopened."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Austen Layard and the lure of the Nights' East

Austen Layard

Many thanks to JC for passing on this great article about Austen Layard (from the same website: "Austen Henry Layard (1817-1894) is famous for discovering and excavating the palaces of the Assyrian kings. Undertaken between 1845 and 1851, this achievement made him celebrated as one of archaeology’s great pioneers, a man who brought to public notice a civilization few knew very much about before. The autobiographical materials presented here describe his earlier life in England and on the continent — and especially the years of his original journey eastward and his dramatic adventures among the Bakhtiari of the Zagros Mountains (1849-1842).").

The article is about how Layard was drawn to travel to the Middle East (and perhaps develop political sympathies for it as well) due to his love of the Arabian Nights.


From the article: “The work in which I took the greatest delight,” he wrote, “was ‘The Arabian Nights’.” In their apartment within the Rucellai Palace, the Layard family home in Florence, “I was accustomed to spend hours stretched upon the floor, under a great gilded Florentine table, poring over this enchanting volume. My imagination became so much excited by it that I thought and dreamt of little else but ‘djinns’ and ‘ghouls’ and fairies and lovely princesses, until I believed in their existence…” Moreover, he adds, “My admiration for ‘The Arabian Nights’ has never left me. I can read them now (he was writing this late in life) with almost as much delight as I read them when a boy. They have had no little influence upon my life and career; for to them I attribute that love of travel and adventure which took me to the East, and led me to the discovery of the ruins of Nineveh.”

Friday, August 13, 2010

Kamel Kilani - Abu Sir and Abu Qir

Here is an uploaded version of the story (in Arabic) "Abu Qir the Dyer and Abu Sir the Barber" by Egyptian children's author Kamel Kilani. The story is originally found in Calcutta II.

كامل كيلاني..ابو صير و ابو قير

Monday, August 9, 2010

Kamel Kilani

Here's a great post from blogger Baheyya on the Egyptian author Kamel Kilani, an author who popularized children's versions of the Nights in Egypt in the early 20th century.  Her post is primarily biographical and it's the best thing I've read on Kilani online in English and a great intro to the development of children's literature in Egypt.

Here's the post:

And from the post:  "Kamel Kilani Ibrahim Kilani didn’t set out to be the modern Egyptian pioneer of children’s literature. He just adored stories and had fond memories of a Greek nanny who raised him on a steady diet of fantastic myths and legends. He also recalled being captivated by tales of Abu Zayd al-Hilali and al-Zanati Khalifa recounted by an itinerant Azharite poet and storyteller in Midan al-Qala’a. Kilani was born on 20 October 1897 in the citadel neighborhood in Cairo, to a father who was a prominent engineer. He studied English literature in high school and enrolled at the Egyptian University (now Cairo University) from 1917 to 1930, reading French and English, and also attending Arabic grammar, logic, and morphology classes at al-Azhar. He spent a few brief years as a high school English teacher and was then appointed as an editor and reviser at the Awqaf Ministry in 1922 (where Naguib Mahfouz also worked), where he spent the rest of his career until retirement in 1954."

More on Kilani:

Brief history of Children's Literature in the Arabic speaking world:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Free Online Versions of the Nights

I'm going to add to this over time (and put a link to this page on the main blog menu on the right) as I come across them but this page is a list of links to freely accessible well known versions of the 1001 Nights.

English Versions:

- - This website has complete versions of the following: 1. Richard Burton's complete 16 volume set (including hyperlinked footnotes), 2. Jonathan Scott's 1890 version, 3. JW Scott's Jack Hardin's Arabian Nights (1903), 4. John Payne's 9 volume Nights, his Tales from the Arabic and his Alaeddin, 5. WF Kirby's The New Arabian Nights (1883), 6. Andrew Lang's Arabian Nights (1898), 7. Edward Lane's Arabian Nights (1909 - edited by Stanley Lane-Poole), 8. E. Dixon's Fairy Tales from the Arabian Nights (1893) and More Tales (1895) and several other derivative versions and single stories. The best source for English versions online and collected in one place.


- Little Hunchback. From the Arabian Nights Entertainments. In Three Cantos (1817). This is a three canto poem derived from the Hunchback story of the Nights, published first in London, England.



Las mil y una noches - Translated by Vicente Blasco Ibanez. According to the Arabian Nights Encyclopedia the author Gabriel Garcia Marquez is said to have been inspired by this particular version (p. 561 vol. 2).


Arabic Versions:

Calcutta II online

Thanks to Moti (> for passing on the online version of Calcutta II of the Arabian Nights (1001 Nights) linked below, free and complete and in Arabic with a nice looking script too.

Unfortunately the book is scanned backwards! And it starts with the last page!

I'll try to contact Google books about it.

Here is the link to the Calcutta II online version:

Bulaq - 

Here is the 1863 Bulak Edition of Alf Laila wa Laila complete and online for free (in Arabic):

Volume one:

Volume two:


Volume three:


Voume four: