Arabian Nights

By Sir Richard Burton

Words from the achiever

“The bliss of reading: to curl up in the cushions, preferably your father’s favorite chair, before he gets home) and open the door to Ali Baba’s secrets, Pippi Longstocking’s impossible stories, Harry Potter’s latest Quidditch victory. Reading is the most renewable pleasure we have; it’s portable, inexpensive (public libraries are the unsung oases of our time), and infinitely interchangeable. I cut my teeth on comic books as well as Children’s Illustrated Classics: Wooed at first by the brilliant color illustrations, I leafed through Black Beauty, Tales of King Arthur, Tom Sawyer, A Thousand and One Nights and A Christmas Carol, all editions in yummy-looking caramel bindings, compliments of the American Heritage Library. Later, I actually read the texts, and when I realized that, for instance, Scheherezade actually told as many tales as the title promised, and that my edition was a children’s digest version, I checked out the entire 1001 Nights from the local library. I don’t remember if I read them all, but I spent a delicious few weeks trying. This, friends, was virtual reality without threat of hard disk failure; I could be an Arabian sheik or Lady Guinevere; I could weep over the little match girl, freezing in the snow, or chortle with the dread Jabberwocky of Alice in Wonderland fame. When I lost myself in a book, it was as if I actually became the words that were used to spin out the story.”

About the book

One of many translations of the ancient Arabic classic. Beautiful and clever Scheherezade avoids death at the hands of Sultan Schah-riar by entertaining him for a thousand and one nights with fantastic tales, including the Voyages of Sinbad, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and Alladin and the Magic Lamp.

Aladdin’s mother took the lamp, and said to her son, Here it is, but it is very dirty; if it was a little cleaner I believe it would bring something more. She took some fine sand and water to clean it.; but had no sooner begun to rub it, than in an instant a hideous genie of gigantic size appeared before her, and said in a voice like thunder, What wouldst thou have? I am ready to obey thee as thy slave, and the slave of all those who have the lamp in their hands; I and the other slaves of the lamp.