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The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night: from the Arabic of the Aegyptian M.S. as edited by Wm. Hay Macnaghten, Esq. B.C.S. Done into English by Henry Torrens B.C.S. B.A. and of the Inner Temple. Vol. I [no more published].
Calcutta & London, W. Thacker & Co / W. H. Allen & Co., 1838. - 8vo. (4), II pp. (2), III pp. VIII pp., 492 pp, XLVIII pp. With engr. title page and blue and red printed header to p. 1. Bound in contemporary half calf on marbled boards with gilt titles to spine, a clean and crisp copy. Rare first English translation of the "most complete" version of the Arabian Nights, that of the Egyptian manuscript tradition. "[U]ntil the one-volume translation of Henry Torrens appeared in 1838, Galland's work was the only version [of the Arabian Nights] known in England" (Shaw). However, unlike the later translations of Edward Lane, John Payne, and Richard Burton, Torrens's work is extremely scarce in the present day - no copies have been noted at auction since 1975. This is due partly to its printing in India, and partly to the fact that Torrens abandoned his project shortly after beginning the translation, based on the Egyptian ms. in the possession of his colleague Sir William MacNaghten. - The "Nights" have been often recognised as "the Islamic world's major contribution to world literature and an icon that has permeated literary imagery around the world" (Enc. of Islam), while Torrens's work has been highly praised by recent commentators for its sophisticated and sensitive rendering of the original Arabic: "Torrens's translation is a far more faithful rendering of the Arabic original (preserving, as it does, the spirit of the Orient and that most important feature of Arabic poetry, its rhyming-scheme) than Lane's more scholarly version, which renders Arabic verse into English prose" (Hawari). - Interestingly, whereas Edward Lane's translation "has done away with any such anecdotes and tales as are on any account objectionable", Torrens deals with the more explicit sexual subjects of the "Nights" by "omitting only the objectionable terms - not whole portions of tales". Rida Hawari of King Saud University, Riyadh, has in fact noted that Torrens's translation "sometimes imitates the essentially Arabian monorhyming technique and, by so doing, he gives a true impression of this difficult Arabian practice." - A fine copy from the estate of Clifton Hall, Staffordshire, and bearing the ownership inscription of Henry John Pye, Esq. (1802-84), son of poet laureate Henry James Pye. E. Littman, "Alf Layla wa-Layla," The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Ed., vol. I, fasc. 6 (Leiden, 1956), pp. 358-364. Rida Hawari, "The Cult of the 'Exotic' in Victorian Literature: the Nights translations of William Torrens and Edward Lane", Journal of King Saud University vol. 4, Arts (2), pp. 65-76 (A.H. 1412/1992) & "Poetical Orientalization in 18th and 19th Century England with Reference to William Thackeray and His Literary Relations", Bulletin of the Faculty of Arts, University of Riyadh vol. I, pp. 7-12 (1970). Sheila Shaw, "Early English Editions of the Arabian Nights: Their Value to 18th Century Literary Scholarship," The Muslim World Vol. 49, pp. 232-238 (1959). [Attributes: Soft Cover]
      [Bookseller: Antiquariat INLIBRIS Gilhofer Nfg. GmbH]
Last Found On: 2014-10-02           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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