Location: Kansas City Public Library/Plaza Branch
Our "long" read for the summer is "The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights." Our discussion of the book will be spread over the three summer meetings of June 28, July 26 and August 30.
There are numerous English translations claiming to be "The Arabian Nights." However, the only unabridged English translation is the three volume set published by Penguin Classics (published 2010).
June 28 Meeting Book, Volume 1: Nights 1 to 294 (1008 pages)
July 26 Meeting Book, Volume 2: Nights 295 to 719 (900 pages)
August 30 Meeting Book, Volume 3: Nights 720 to 1001 (884 pages)
That's 2,784 pages, so it is suggested to get an early start on reading.
One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of West and South Asian storiesand folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Nights, from the first English language edition (1706), which rendered the title as The Arabian Nights' Entertainment.
The work was collected over many centuries by various authors, translators, and scholars across West, Central, South Asia and North Africa. The tales themselves trace their roots back to ancient and medieval Arabic, Persian, Indian, Egyptian and Mesopotamian folklore and literature. In particular, many tales were originally folk stories from the Caliphate era, while others, especially the frame story, are most probably drawn from the Pahlavi Persian work Hazār Afsān which in turn relied partly on Indian elements.
What is common throughout all the editions of the Nights is the initial frame story of the ruler Shahryār and his wife Scheherazade and the framing device incorporated throughout the tales themselves. The stories proceed from this original tale; some are framed within other tales, while others begin and end of their own accord. Some editions contain only a few hundred nights, while others include 1,001 or more.
Some of the stories of The Nights, particularly "Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp", "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" and "The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor", while almost certainly genuine Middle Eastern folk tales, were not part of The Nights in Arabic versions, but were added into the collection by Antoine Galland and other European translators. The innovative and rich poetry and poetic speeches, chants, songs, lamentations, hymns, beseeching, praising, pleading, riddles and annotations provided by Scheherazade or her story characters are unique to the Arabic version of the book. Some are as short as one line, while others go for tens of lines.