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The Annotated Arabian Nights: Tales from 1001 Nights (Hardcover)

The Annotated Arabian Nights: Tales from 1001 Nights Cover Image
By Yasmine Seale (Translated by), Paulo Lemos Horta (Editor), Paulo Lemos Horta (Introduction by), Omar El Akkad (Foreword by), Robert Irwin (Afterword by)
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A magnificent and richly illustrated volume—with a groundbreaking translation framed by new commentary and hundreds of images—of the most famous story collection of all time.

A cornerstone of world literature and a monument to the power of storytelling, the Arabian Nights has inspired countless authors, from Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe to Naguib Mahfouz, Clarice Lispector, and Angela Carter. Now, in this lavishly designed and illustrated edition of The Annotated Arabian Nights, the acclaimed literary historian Paulo Lemos Horta and the brilliant poet and translator Yasmine Seale present a splendid new selection of tales from the Nights, featuring treasured original stories as well as later additions including “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” and “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” and definitively bringing the Nights out of Victorian antiquarianism and into the twenty-first century.

For centuries, readers have been haunted by the homicidal King Shahriyar, thrilled by gripping tales of Sinbad’s seafaring adventures, and held utterly, exquisitely captive by Shahrazad’s stories of passionate romances and otherworldly escapades. Yet for too long, the English-speaking world has relied on dated translations by Richard Burton, Edward Lane, and other nineteenth-century adventurers. Seale’s distinctly contemporary and lyrical translations break decisively with this masculine dynasty, finally stripping away the deliberate exoticism of Orientalist renderings while reclaiming the vitality and delight of the stories, as she works with equal skill in both Arabic and French.

Included within are famous tales, from “The Story of Sinbad the Sailor” to “The Story of the Fisherman and the Jinni,” as well as lesser-known stories such as “The Story of Dalila the Crafty,” in which the cunning heroine takes readers into the everyday life of merchants and shopkeepers in a crowded metropolis, and “The Story of the Merchant and the Jinni,” an example of a ransom frame tale in which stories are exchanged to save a life. Grounded in the latest scholarship, The Annotated Arabian Nights also incorporates the Hanna Diyab stories, for centuries seen as French forgeries but now acknowledged, largely as a result of Horta’s pathbreaking research, as being firmly rooted in the Arabic narrative tradition. Horta not only takes us into the astonishing twists and turns of the stories’ evolution. He also offers comprehensive notes on just about everything readers need to know to appreciate the tales in context, and guides us through the origins of ghouls, jinn, and other supernatural elements that have always drawn in and delighted readers.

Beautifully illustrated throughout with art from Europe and the Arab and Persian world, the latter often ignored in English-language editions, The Annotated Arabian Nights expands the visual dimensions of the stories, revealing how the Nights have always been—and still are—in dialogue with fine artists. With a poignant autobiographical foreword from best-selling novelist Omar El Akkad and an illuminating afterword on the Middle Eastern roots of Hanna Diyab’s tales from noted scholar Robert Irwin, Horta and Seale have created a stunning edition of the Arabian Nights that will enchant and inform both devoted and novice readers alike.

About the Author

Yasmine Seale is a writer who works across poetry, translation, criticism, and visual art.

Paulo Lemos Horta is an associate professor of literature at New York University Abu Dhabi, and the author of Marvellous Thieves: Secret Authors of the Arabian Nights. He lives in Abu Dhabi and Barcelona.

Paulo Lemos Horta is an associate professor of literature at New York University Abu Dhabi, and the author of Marvellous Thieves: Secret Authors of the Arabian Nights. He lives in Abu Dhabi and Barcelona.

Praise For…

[A] gorgeous illustrated volume . . . On display again is the spectacular panoply of storytelling, from tales of magic and wonder to murder mysteries to instructional fables to sexual burlesques. But also contained in this heaping volume is the history of how the tales coalesced, a story every bit as intricate and engrossing as those that enchanted the mad king . . . Ms. Seale and Mr. Horta have produced a book that is true to the bounty and profusion of this gloriously mongrel collection . . . balance is everywhere in The Annotated Arabian Nights, which seeks to ‘reclaim’ the tales from the most extreme effects of European imperialism, yet does so without the censorious feeling of exclusion or expulsion.

— Sam Sacks - Wall Street Journal

[A] 700-page equivalent of Aladdin’s Cave of Wonders . . . redresses the 19th-century’s Orientalizing bent and occasional racism, while also reminding us that women, and not just Scheherazade, are at the heart of these wonderful stories . . . This is one present that anybody would be thrilled to open.
— Michael Dirda - Washington Post

[Q]uietly momentous . . . new readings can bring to light fresh meanings—and enduring truths. In 2017 Emily Wilson managed that in a new translation of Homer’s ‘Odyssey,’ the first by a woman to be published in English. The new ‘Arabian Nights’—a selection from a complete edition in the making—does the same . . . [Ms. Seale’s] proficiency in Arabic, English and French, along with her poet’s ear, have yielded a lyrical and accessible new text. Mr. Horta contributes annotations that give context to her choices, and has selected hundreds of illustrations that let readers travel visually through the tales and their history.
— The Economist

This lavish edition of an essential title is perfect for devotees of the tales and an ideal introduction for first-time readers.
— Julie Hale - BookPage

Product Details
ISBN: 9781631493638
ISBN-10: 1631493639
Publisher: Liveright
Publication Date: November 16th, 2021
Pages: 816
Language: English