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EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY
EDITED BY ERNEST RHYS
FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

FAIRY TALES FROM THE ARABIAN NIGHTS

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
T. H. ROBINSON
AND DORA CURTIS




FAIRY-TALES FROM THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
LONDON: PUBLISHED
by J.M. DENT. & CO.
AND IN NEW YORK BY E. P. DUTTON

RICHARD CLAY & SONS, LIMITED, BREAD STREET HILL, E.C. AND BUNGAY, SUFFOLK. 



FOREWORD

"BE sure you tell me nothing but what is true, or I shall clip thy wings," said Maimoune (in the story of Camaralzaman) to the genie, who had just arrived from the utmost limits of China. Here are a few favourite tales out of the many told in the "Thousand and One Nights," which are just as true as romancer or genie ever told. They are the best, too, of all those tales from Arabia, India, or China, if we measure them by the fame they have gained beyond their fellow-stories in our Western world. They include "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp," "Sinbad the Sailor," and others just as engrossing, which have been told more often to English youngsters than any stories in all the world's ken, save those, like "Jack the Giant Killer" and "Tom Tit-Tot," that are British or English and home-made. 

Perhaps to enjoy them in their full Arabian flavour, which is as pleasant and distinct to the taste as a cup of the best Arabian coffee, we ought to recall how in the tents, or in the narrow streets, of the East, the tale-tellers commonly tell tales of this kind. It is on the evenings of feast-days and holidays that the tale-tellers in Arab towns and villages usually recite their tales. You may picture them sitting on a stool, either on the floor of a tent, or on the raised seat built in some Eastern streets before the coffee-shops. They sometimes have a musical instrument, a viol of only one string, called the "Poet's Viol," on which they play a note or a few notes where a scrap, or few lines of verse come, as they so often do, into the story. As for the hearers, they sit where they can, on the bench or on the ground, smoking their long pipes and sipping their coffee. The performer or tale-reciter is most lively in gesture and most expressive in voice when narrating the various events, alarming or amusing, that make up the story; and he recites them, as a rule, only from memory. But there are a few tale-tellers in larger cities, like Cairo, who read stories also from books. 

There is no other people in the world (says one Eastern traveller) who love a good story so well, and are so excited by hearing romantic tales, as the Arabs. The same writer — Lane — tells us that tales like those of the "Thousand and One Nights "enable numbers of professional tale-tellers to attract "crowds of delighted listeners "to the coffee-shops at places like Cairo. This is partly, however, due to the people's delight in the mere eloquence and varied tones of the human voice. The Arabs have a tradition of David the psalmist, which shows how much they thought of "the magic of the tongue." They say that when David recited his psalms, even the wild birds and wild beasts were fascinated (as they were by Orpheus), and that sometimes as many as four hundred people died from excess of happiness at hearing him when he sang and declaimed his psalms. Other legends of other famous poets show the same belief in their fabulous powers. In the old time, when these Arabian tales were recited, the princes often gave jewels and many pieces of silver to the fortunate tale-teller. 

Nowadays he is lucky to get a few small coins, such as acrobats and Punch-and-Judy men get at our English fairs or on holidays. 

In their English form, too, these "Arabian Nights" gain by being read aloud, as most really good stories do. Little more need he said of those included in this book, save that they are all taken from Galland's Collection of 1821, slightly simplified at need. At some future day, it is intended to have in another shelf of this series as complete a set of the "Thousand and One Nights "as Lane and the later translators can supply. 

1907. 

 

"The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night" is composed of two hundred and sixty-four stories, varying considerably in length. Uncertainty rests on the exact origin of this collection of tales; it may have been founded on "an original nucleus afforded by an old Arabic version" of a similar Persian work, or, according to another authority, "it was written in Syria about five centuries ago in the vulgar Arabic tongue," and "was left unfinished by the author or (more probably) authors who had possibly adopted the framework of the Persian." Opinion differs as to whether the work is the composition of one person, or of several; also as to the date of the compilation. It has been referred in its original form to the fourteenth century, several of the tales having previously existed in an independent form; but the work was added to by later hands. Another view is that it belongs in its earliest complete form to the middle of the sixteenth century. (See "The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night, its History and Character," J. Payne, 1884.) 

Editions for children have been arranged and edited as follows : –  

Fairy Tales from the Arabian Nights, E. Dixon; ill. J. D. Batten; 1893. More Fairy Tales from the Arabian Nights, 1895. Fairy Tales from the Arabian Nights; ill. T. H. Robinson (Temple Classics for Young People); 1899. The Child's Arabian Nights, by W. Heath Robinson, 1903. Stories from the Arabian Nights, told to the children by Amy Steedman; ill. F. M. B. Blackie; 1905. The Arabian Nights Entertainments, edited and re-told for children by Gladys Davidson; ill. H. Stratton; 1906. 

Selections have been edited by Mrs. F. G. Green, 1904; an abridged version by H. M. Burnside, 1893, 1897. 

Popular Editions: Cassell's Arabian Nights, 1882; Routledge's "Popular Library," 1889 (1888); and in Sir John Lubbock's "Hundred Books, 1893. 




CONTENTS
 


Illustrations
THE FAIR SLAVE WAS IMMEDIATELY BROUGHT IN
PRINCESS BADOURA AND PRINCE CAMARALZAMAN 
"I AM AN ASTROLOGER"
PRINCE CAMARALZAMAN DISCOVERS THE CAVE
"ONE OF THEM CAME TO THE NEST WHERE I WAS"
THE TWO ROCS APPROACHED WITH A FRIGHTFUL NOISE 
WE MARCHED THUS TOGETHER 
THE ELEPHANT TAKING ME UP WITH HIS TRUNK, LAID ME ON HIS BACK
ALI BABA COUNTED FORTY OF THEM
MORGIANA 
THE PRINCE IMMEDIATELY FELL IN LOVE WITH HER
THE PRINCESS OF BENGAL
"I SAY," ANSWERED THE GENIE, "SPEAK TO ME MORE CIVILLY, BEFORE I KILL THEE" 
THE LADY OVERTURNED THE FRYING-PAN
THE CITY OF THE BLACK ISLES 
ALADDIN'S MOTHER WAS UNABLE TO SPEAK        
NEW LAMPS FOR OLD

 


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