tuque /tūk/ n Canadian English, var. toque [19th c. Canadian French, from the French toque, from the Basque tauka] 1 A close-fitting knitted cap, often with a long tapering end or tassel or pompom. 2 fig Something quintessentially Canadian.
souq /sūk/ n from the Arabic سوق var. souk 1 An open-air marketplace. 2 fig A central meeting place for the circulation of news and ideas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New dawn for 'One Thousand and One Nights'

Pop quiz - which of the following stories is an original tale of the famed collection of medieval Persian fables, originally scribed in Arabic
الف ليلة و ليلة (One Thousand and One Nights)?

A) Aladdin's Lamp
B) The Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor
C) Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves
D) The Three Apples
E) All of the above

The answer is D*. Not among the original Arabic manuscripts, dating in fragments from as early as the 9th century, will you find the popular stories about Aladdin or Ali Baba or Sindbad sailing the seven seas. Those were added in the early 18th century by the inventive French writer Antoine Galland, who based them on contemporary folk tales he'd heard around the cafes of Aleppo.

Galland's translation of (and especially his additions to) the collection of medieval Persian stories, published under the title Les Mille et une nuits, contes arabes traduits en français, was immensely popular in Europe. It was not until the late 19th century that a credible English translation was produced, that of the astute Sir Richard Francis Burton. This longstanding English-language version has come by a number of names, including Arabian Nights and Tales from the 1001 Nights, etc.

Now, for the first time in more than a century, a new English translation has been made. SOAS scholar Hugh Kennedy wrote this detailed review of the new English edition of One Thousand and One Nights by Malcolm and Ursula Lyons, including a lot of the intricate history of the collection of tales.

The three-volume set contains nearly 3000 pages of all of the original 1001 stories, translated from their most complete Arabic version, with plenty of notes. And yes, it also contains Galland's inventions.

* The Three Apples is a gripping murder mystery in which, among other twists, the hero sleuth must solve the case in 3 days or else the Sultan will kill him.

No comments: