Edward William Lane [translator] - The Thousand and One Nights - Charles Knight, UK, 1839-1841 - First Edition


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London, Charles Knight & Co., 1839-1841. First Edition. Three Hardback Volumes. Near Fine condition. Some surface wear and bumping to all the boards, title page of third volume repaired (seemingly a professional repair - noticeable but a good repair). Hard to find in original cloth. Lane's translation is one of the best-known translations of the Thousand and One Nights, though critics have been in disagreement over its superiority or inferiority for decades. The present copy is Lane's first translation and the first edition in English to be translated directly from the Arabic [previous English editions were from Galland's French translation, the present edition being based primarily on a 'superior' Egyptian edition]. Lane writes in the introduction that Galland 'perverted' the Arabian Nights insofar as he was insufficeintly accustomed to Arabic culture, and therefore could provide only an insufficient translation. The present edition is noted too for its tendency toward providing a more instructional and culturally accurate rendition, something that Lane [and his publisher Charles Knight] thought an important enterprise. On top of this Lane wrote for Victorian sensibilities and highly-censored his translation, which brought the stories to a different audience [compare with Burton's later translation]. Lane's edition is copiously annotated and carries hundreds of illustrations from William Harvey. The Arabian Nights stand alongside the tales of the Brother's Grimm, Hans Andersen and Charles Perrault as the principal foundations for children's literature, as well as for speculative fiction in general [and indeed literary fiction]. Lane's translation has been overshadowed somewhat by Burton's 1883 publication, but the stories in the three volumes do stand alone as milestones in the history of the fantastic.


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