An update from an earlier post... Oxford's Arabic literature guru Geert Jan van Gelder has an article in the latest Times of London Literary Supplement on the new translation of Arabian Nights, with more analysis on the history of English-language translations.
“Three English translations from the Arabic appeared in the course of the nineteenth century. Edward William Lane, a good Arabist, produced a version in 1839 that was acceptable to a Victorian readership, which meant that he had to omit a fair number of stories, passages and poems.
“More complete was the version by John Payne (1882–4), which was soon overshadowed, and to some extent plagiarized, by that of Richard Burton (1885–8), a translation as eccentric as Burton himself. His obsession with matters of sex and eroticism (he also put his name to a translation of the Kama Sutra) is obvious not only from his copious notes, but also from the translation itself; Burton’s wife Isobel saw to it that an expurgated version was published for a general readership.
“Burton’s language, too, is eccentric and pretty unreadable, such that a not unlikely title might be 'The Shroff who Futtered his Cadette with the Two Coyntes.' Such words may be useful for players of Scrabble; modern readers deserve something better.” [MORE]