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: