The Book Of The Thousand Nights And A Night, Vol 1 Page-13

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

A plain and literal translation of the arabian nights entertainments

Vita quid est hominis? Viridis floriscula mortis; Sole Oriente oriens, sole cadente cadens. Poetical justice is administered by the literary K�z� with exemplary impartiality and severity; “denouncing evil doers and eulogising deeds admirably achieved.” The morale is sound and healthy; and at times we descry, through the voluptuous and libertine picture, vistas of a transcendental morality, the morality of Socrates in Plato. Subtle corruption and covert licentiousness are utterly absent; we find more real”vice” in many a short French roman, say La Dame aux Cam�lias, and in not a few English novels of our day than in the thousands of pages of the Arab. Here we have nothing of that most immodest modern modesty which sees covert implication where nothing is implied, and “improper” allusion when propriety is not outraged; nor do we meet with the Nineteenth Century refinement; innocence of the word not of the thought; morality of the tongue not of the heart, and the sincere homage paid to virtue in guise of perfect hypocrisy. It is, indeed, this unique contrast of a quaint element, childish crudities and nursery indecencies and “vain and amatorious” phrase jostling the finest and highest views of life and character, shown in the kaleidoscopic shiftings of the marvellous picture with many a “rich truth in a tale’s presence”, pointed by a rough dry humour which compares well with “wut; “the alternations of strength and weakness, of pathos and bathos, of the boldest poetry (the diction of Job) and the baldest prose (the Egyptian of today); the contact of religion and morality with the orgies of African Apuleius and Petronius Arbiter—at times taking away the reader’s breath—and, finally, the whole dominated everywhere by that marvellous Oriental fancy, wherein the spiritual and the supernatural are as common as the material and the natural; it is this contrast, I say, which forms the chiefest charm of The Nights, which gives it the most striking originality and which makes it a perfect expositor of the medieval Moslem mind. Explanatory notes did not enter into Mr. Payne’s plan. They do with mine: I can hardly imagine The Nights being read to any profit by men of the West without commentary. My annotations avoid only one subject, parallels of European