The Book Of The Thousand Nights And A Night, Vol 1 Page-8

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

A plain and literal translation of the arabian nights entertainments

Wortley Montague (in 6 vols., small 8vo, London: Longmans, etc.). This work he (and he only) describes as “Carefully revised and occasionally corrected from the Arabic.” The reading public did not wholly reject it, sundry texts were founded upon the Scott version and it has been imperfectly reprinted (4 vole., 8vo, Nimmo and Bain, London, 1883). But most men, little recking what a small portion of the original they were reading, satisfied themselves with the Anglo French epitome and metaphrase. At length in 1838, Mr. Henry Torrens, B.A., Irishman, lawyer (“of the Inner Temple”) and Bengal Civilian, took a step in the right direction; and began to translate, “The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night,” (1 vol., 8vo, Calcutta: W. Thacker and Co.) from the Arabic of the �gyptian (!) MS. edited by Mr. (afterwards Sir)William H. Macnaghten. The attempt, or rather the intention, was highly creditable; the copy was carefully moulded upon the model and offered the best example of the verbatim et literatim style. But the plucky author knew little of Arabic, and least of what is most wanted, the dialect of Egypt and Syria. His prose is so conscientious as to offer up spirit at the shrine of letter; and his verse, always whimsical, has at times a manner of Hibernian whoop which is comical when it should be pathetic. Lastly he printed only one volume of a series which completed would have contained nine or ten. That amiable and devoted Arabist, the late Edward William Lane does not score a success in his “New Translation of the Tales of a Thousand and One Nights” (London: Charles Knight and Co., MDCCCXXXIX.) of which there have been four English editions, besides American, two edited by E. S. Poole. He chose the abbreviating Bulak Edition; and, of its two hundred tales, he has omitted about half and by far the more characteristic half: the work was intended for “the drawing room table;” and, consequently, the workman was compelled to avoid the “objectionable” and aught “approaching to licentiousness.” He converts the Arabian Nights into the Arabian Chapters, arbitrarily changing the division and, worse still, he converts some chapters into notes. He renders poetry by prose and apologises for not omitting it altogether: he neglects assonance and he is at once too Oriental and not Oriental enough. He had small store of Arabic at the time— Lane of the Nights is not Lane of the Dictionary—and his pages are disfigured