The Book Of The Thousand Nights And A Night, Vol 1 Page-11

The Book Of The Thousand Nights And A Night, Vol 1

A plain and literal translation of the arabian nights entertainments

and the popular styles which jostle each other in The Nights. If at times it appear strained and forced, after the wont of rhymed prose, the scholar will observe that, despite the immense copiousness of assonants and consonants in Arabic, the strain is often put upon it intentionally, like the Rims cars of Dante and the Troubadours. This rhymed prose may be “un English” and unpleasant, even irritating to the British ear; still I look upon it as a sine qu� non for a complete reproduction of the original. In the Terminal Essay I shall revert to the subject. On the other hand when treating the versical portion, which may represent a total of ten thousand lines, I have not always bound myself by the metrical bonds of the Arabic, which are artificial in the extreme, and which in English can be made bearable only by a tour de force. I allude especially to the monorhyme, Rim continuat or tirade monorime, whose monotonous simplicity was preferred by the Troubadours for threnodies. It may serve well for three or four couplets but, when it extends, as in the Ghazal-cannon, to eighteen, and in the Kasidah, elegy or ode, to more, it must either satisfy itself with banal rhyme words, when the assonants should as a rule be expressive and emphatic; or, it must display an ingenuity, a smell of the oil, which assuredly does not add to the reader’s pleasure. It can perhaps be done and it should be done; but for me the task has no attractions: I can fence better in shoes than in sabots. Finally I print the couplets in Arab form separating the hemistichs by asterisks. And now to consider one matter of special importance in the book- -its turpiloquium. This stumbling-block is of two kinds, completely distinct. One is the simple, na�ve and child like indecency which, from Tangiers to Japan, occurs throughout general conversation of high and low in the present day. It uses, like the holy books of the Hebrews, expressions “plainly descriptive of natural situations;” and it treats in an unconventionally free and naked manner of subjects and matters which are usually, by common consent, left undescribed. As Sir William Jones observed long ago, “that anything natural can be offensively obscene never seems to have occurred to the Indians or to their legislators; a