Book: Wordsworth’s Tales from the Arabian Nights Review

“Schrehrezade, Schrehzade, let down your hair..! Oh wait, wrong story!”

I’ve been reading this for about two weeks, which is quite long for me. The book is actually fairly short, about 341 pages long, and it should be fairly easy for a determined reader to finish it in a couple of days. In my case, I’d mainly been reading it for an hour before bedtime, which dragged it for a while.

Author: Anonymous

Genre: Fantasy, Historical, Adventure, Age: YA+

These stories are sometimes referred to as One Thousand and One Nights. There are various stories that have included in this heavily edited collection. It’s been completely… re-mastered, shall we say, to remove all explicit material and references to sexual content. Because so many stories have been missed out, the collection left over is very fragmented and pretty much standalone. By the time you get into the 10th page, the reference to Schrezade have been removed and the stories just play themselves out without being referenced.

The table of contents in the book doesn’t actually let you know which stories are within a story, so for convenience I’ve formatted it so you can see the hierarchy.

——————–

The beautiful Scherehzade’s royal husband threatens to kill her, so each night she diverts him by weaving wonderful tales of fantastic adventure, leaving each story unfinished so that he spares her life to hear the ending on the morrow.

———————

o Prologue

This is the background story to the Arabian Nights and starts off with with Sultan marrying a different woman every night, and then having her killed in the morning so she never has a chance to cheat on him. Schrezade convinces her father, the Sultan’s vizir, to let her marry the sultan. She tells the Sultan a story for each night and leaves it on a cliff hanger.

Strangely enough, the collection of stories end without a conclusion of Scherehzade and whilst some of them can be read without the background story, it never really says what happens to Schrezade and her sister. Well, from my previous reading, it’s actually that Schrezade manages to tell the Sultan the stories for 1001 nights, and in the end the Sultan is so fond of her that he decides to let her live.

o The Story of the Merchant and the Genius

A merchant traveling through the desert takes shade under a palm tree and accidently kills a genie’s son. The genie wants revenge, but the merchant convinces him to let him have a year to live as he wishes to say goodbye to his family.

– The Story of the First Old Man and the Hind

– The Story of the Second old Man and the Two Black Dogs

o The Story of the Fisherman

A Fisherman was once finishing and came across a pot. He decides to open it and finds out that a genie had been inside. The genie is vengeful towards humans and wants to kill the human that has set him free. The Fisherman begs for his life.

– The Story of the Greek Prince and the Physician Douban

— The Story of the Husband and the Parrot

— The Story of the Vizir Who Was Punished

o The Story of the Three Calenders, Sons of Kings, and Five Ladies of Baghdad

Various people that arrives at Baghdad at the same time by coincidence take shelter in a house of five ladies. The ladies make them promise not to ask any questions about what they must see, but the visitors can’t hold in their curiosity. Their tales are then told.

Annoyingly, you never hear the story of the five sisters!

– The Story of the First Calender, Son of a King

– The Story of the Second Calender, Son of a King

— The Story of the Envious Man and the of Him who was Envied

– The Story of the Third Calender, Son of a King

o The Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor

The various voyages that Sindbad had over the years, each one more entertaining than the last. his audience are his family, fans and lone porter that envied him at the beginning but afterwards is wowed by his narrow escapes.

– The First Voyage of Sindbad

– The Second Voyage of Sindbad

– The Third Voyage of Sindbad

– The Fourth Voyage of Sindbad

– The Fifth Voyage of Sindbad

– The Sixth Voyage of Sindbad

– The Seventh and Last Voyage of Sindbad

o The Little Hunchback

A quirky story about a hunchback that was accidentally killed. His body is them passed from person to person in a frame-up while they all try to deny killing him. In the end though, the truth comes out.

– The Story of the Barber’s Fifth Brother

– The Story of the Barber’s Sixth Brother

o The Adventures of Prince Camaralzaman and Princess Badoura

Camaralzaman, a lazy dis-interested prince, after refusing for year to follow the duty of his kingdom and marry, falls in love with a princess that had been whisked to his bedside by a pair of genies.

o Noureddin and the Fair Persian

A young man steals a slave that was destined for the King of Balsora. his father covers it the mess, but makes Noureddin promise that he will always care for and love his now wife. That doesn’t always remain the case…

o Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp

Aladdin, a good-for-nothing young man, finds out his uncle has come from Africa. In promise of all the treasure in a cave, Aladdin must retrieve a simple lamp. After the uncle loses patience and tarsp Aladdin in the cane, the genie of the ring, and the genie of the lamp help Aladdin live a successful and plentiful life. His mother is now rich, and in comfort, and Aladdin is married to the Princess. However, the uncle, who is an evil magician, finds out Aladdin is still alive and plans on killing him.

Most people would be familiar of the characters from the Disney’s Aladdin version. However, there are significant differences to the story, and the original tale is pretty different. It’s worth reading in it’s own right.

o The Adventures of Haroun-al-Raschid, Caliph of Baghdad

Whilst in disguise as a normal citizen, the Caliph of Baghdad saw a begger that asked for money but each time anyone donated, he would also ask them to hit him. In another occurance, he saw a man ride a horse around and beat it with spurs until the horse was foaming in pain. Summoning them to his court, Haroun-al-Raschid demanded an explanation.

– The Story of Blind Baba-Abdalla

– The Story of Sidi-Nouman

o The Story of Ali Cogia, Merchant of Baghdad

The story of a merchant who went travelling and left a jar of gold with his neighbour for safekeeping. He comes back to find that the neighbour has stolen it!

o The Enchanted Horse

A long fairy-tale story of a prince who is whisked away on a magic horse that can fly. He finds the princes of Bengal when he lands, and they fall in love.

o The Story of the Two Sisters who were Jealous of their Younger Sister.

Another long story about a sister who married the king, her older sisters frame her as a mad-woman and the children grow up without knowing what their true lineage is.

———————

The good parts about this collection of stories is that it’s very diverse. You have moral-full stories, stories of betrayal, lust, anger, and some are just for fun and very fairy-tale like. I enjoyed reading them, even though, they aren’t as well connected as they would be in an unabridged edition. I also loved the exotic nature of the stories. Though, the names of people and places are sometimes difficult to pronounce, and some help might be needed in getting your tongue to wrap around the words.

It’s especially intriguing that the middle-east, where these stories were based and set, is often described as the center of civilization, as a paradise, as a monument, and a the epicenter of entertainment and culture. Many of these stories are set in familiar places like Baghdad, Persia, and India. It’s a very start contrast with the Iran, and Iraq of today. Such a shame that the beauty of the current middle-east was allowed to destroyed! It’s a true shame to the military forces that bomb these countries regularly!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading these. It’s a wonderful addition to any person’s library. I purchased my copy from Amazon, but Waterstones should also have it in stock. And since it’s a Wordsworth edition, it’s only £1.99.

Rated  – 3/5 Good for general reading. Lovely, diverse stories. Some language difficulties for younger readers.

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