Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Arabian Nights, circa 2008

A new British translation of The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights, translated by Malcom C. Lyons with Ursula Lyon, has provoked commentary in England. As always, I've found Ahdaf Soueif's writing on the topic to be most thoughtful. In her London Times Book Review, Souief compares the approaches of Western scholarship (nailing down details: what, where, when, whom) to Arab scholarship (thematic analysis and folkloric tradition) of these famously fiesty texts. Soueif also provides her own story about when she first encountered the stories of Scheherezade as a child and compares various other translations. This most recent translation, according Souief, is intentionally less "orientalist" and as result "less sparkly." Is this the trade off?

While trawling the Internet, I also came upon a wonderfully obsessive blog dedicated entirely to 1001 Nights. An English Ph.D. student, naturally: Journal of the 1001 Nights.

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