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Arabian Nights
One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of stories collected over many centuries by various authors, translators and scholars in various countries across the Arab World.

These collections of tales trace their roots back to ancient and medieval Persian, Indian, Arabic, Egyptian and Mesopotamian literature. In particular, many of tales were originally folk stories from the Caliphate era and the Sassanid-era Pahlavi work Hazar Afsan.

Though the oldest Arabic manuscript dates from the 14th century, scholarship generally dates the collection's genesis to around the 9th century.

About the Story
What is common throughout all the editions of The Nights is the initial frame story of the ruler Shahryar 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 1001 or more nights.

The Arabian Nights Entertainment
The collection or at least certain stories drawn from it became widely known in the West during the nineteenth century, after it was translated ? first into French and then English and other European languages. At this time it acquired the English name The Arabian Nights' Entertainment or simply Arabian Nights.

Collection of Arabic Folk Tales
Some of the best known stories from The Nights, particularly Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor, while most likely genuine Arabic folk tales, were not part of the The Nights in its Arabic versions, but were interpolated into the collection by its early European translators.

Premise Of the Story
The main frame story concerns a Persian king and his new bride. The king, Shahryar, upon discovering his former wife's infidelity has her executed and then declares all women to be unfaithful. He begins to marry a succession of virgins only to execute each one the next morning.

Eventually the vizier cannot find any more virgins. Scheherazade, the vizier's daughter, offers herself as the next bride and her father reluctantly agrees. On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale, but does not end it.

The king is thus forced to postpone her execution in order to hear the conclusion. The next night, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins a new one, and the king, eager to hear the conclusion, postpones her execution once again. So it goes on for 1,001 nights.

Collected Works of Historical Tales
The tales vary widely: they include historical tales, love stories, tragedies, comedies, poems, burlesques and various forms of erotica.

Numerous stories depict djinn, magicians, and legendary places, which are often intermingled with real people and geography, not always rationally; common protagonists include the historical caliph Harun al-Rashid, his vizier, Ja'far al-Barmaki, and his alleged court poet Abu Nuwas, despite the fact that these figures lived some 200 years after the fall of the Persian Empire in which the frame tale of Scheherazade is set.

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.The different versions have different individually detailed endings but they all end with the king giving his wife a pardon and sparing her life.

The narrator's standards for what constitutes a cliffhanger seem broader than in modern literature. While in many cases a story is cut off with the hero in danger of losing his life or another kind of deep trouble, in some parts of the full text Scheherazade stops her narration in the middle of an exposition of abstract philosophical principles or complex points of Islamic philosophy, and in one case during a detailed description of human anatomy according to Galen?and in all these cases turns out to be justified in her belief that the king's curiosity about the sequel would buy her another day of life.

Versions
First European VersionThe first European version of the Book of the Thousand and One Nights was translated into French by Antoine Galland from an Arabic text and other sources. This 12-volume book included stories that were not in the original Arabic manuscript.

Aladdin's Lamp and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves appeared first in Galland's translation and cannot be found in any of the original manuscripts. He wrote that he heard them from a Syrian Christian storyteller from Aleppo, a Maronite scholar whom he called Hanna Diab.

Gallands Version of the Arabian Nights
Galland's version of the Nights was immensely popular throughout Europe, and later versions of the Nights were written by Galland's publisher using Galland's name without his consent.

English Translation - The Book of the Thousand Nights
A well-known English translation is that by Sir Richard Francis Burton, entitled The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night. Unlike previous editions his ten-volume translation, published by Leonard Smithers, was not censored.

Though printed in the Victorian era it contained all the erotic touch of the source material His original ten volumes were followed by a further six entitled The Supplemental Nights to the Thousand Nights and a Night, which were printed between 1886 and 1888.

Version by French Doctor J.C. Mardrus
Recent versions of the Nights include that of the French doctor J. C. Mardrus, translated into English by Powys Mathers, and, notably, a critical edition based on the 14th century Syrian manuscript in the Biblioth?que Nationale, compiled in Arabic by Muhsin Mahdi and rendered into English by Husain Haddawy, by and large the best English language version to date.

Portuguese Translation
In 2005, Brazilian scholar Mamede Mustafa Jarouche started publishing a thorough Portuguese translation of the work, based on the comparative analysis of a series of different Arabic manuscripts.

The first three volumes of a planned five- or six-volume set have already been released, comprising the complete Syrian branch of the book and part of the later Egyptian branch.



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