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The Arabian Nights: Their Best-Known Tales
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The Arabian Nights: Their Best-Known Tales

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  192 ratings  ·  30 reviews
For more than five hundred years the Arabian classic Tales of a Thousand and One Nights has fascinated readers all over the world. Early in this century the popular novelist Kate Douglas Wiggin and her sister, Nora Smith, selected and edited twelve favorite tales from the collection, including the stories of Ali Baba and the forty thieves, Aladdin and his wonderful lamp, a ...more
MP3 Book, 0 pages
Published November 9th 2004 by Blackstone Audio, Inc. (first published 1909)
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I must have read some of these when I was younger, because some of the stories seem rather familiar, but I'm glad I'm (re)reading them. a) It's an interesting look into that culture, and b) the pictures (what's offered in the book and what's painted in your mind) are really nice. Some of the tales I literally could not put down until I was finished with them. It's nice just to escape into that rare land of story-telling where you actually find yourself almost a kid in how engrossed you are in th ...more
I've read the 1909 edition and seen the beautiful Maxfield Parrish illustrations. It's because of this book that I went on to do a little research into color illustrations in books and can now identify Maxfield Parrish's work when I see it elsewhere (such as in the ladies' restroom of a very nice restaurant). Knowing the history of book illustration helps because Parrish's work tends to look dated, but it was cutting edge then.

The tales are very good, too. I think there's about the right number
A beautiful book in every way. Reprinted from the original 1909 version, with the Maxfield Parrish illustrations to brighten the proceedings, these famous stories are told in courtly, but not stilted language. They relate marvelous events and quests, and constantly reflect the courtesy and high character of the heroes. Caliphs and sultans, grand viziers and emeers, common people and slaves, rocs and serpents, flying carpets, genies, fabulous riches and miraculous deliverance -- it's all here. A ...more
Tim Inak
I don't know why it took a fantasy addict like myself so long to read these tales. Maybe all the cheesy movies I saw growing up that were supposed to be based on the Arabian Nights made me feel like I already knew the stories.

News flash: Hollywood never gets it right. If you like magic and adventure, the Arabian Nights is for you.

The only problem I had with this version is that being compiled by two British women from the turn of the 20th century, they left most of the sex out while adding their
I really liked this book, it wasn't great but it was good enough that it made me want to read a more comprehensive set of the Arabian Nights Tales. My understanding is that the complete Arabian Nights stories are set in a whole series of frame stories, you get a bit of the feel for that in this book but I'm guessing the complete tales does a better job.

Having said that, this book seems appropriate for older children, with some commentary about differences in cultural understanding today.
I was going to donate this book to my classroom library until I actually went through the book and read it. I was pleasantly surprised to see lovely color pictures along with the text that makes for a very nice book to have for my personal library.

The book contains the more well-known Arabian Nights tales and was actually put together originally back in 1909. The publishers of this book have re-printed it with full color pictures from Maxfield Parrish, which was quite enjoyable.
I liked some stories more than others (I skipped one because I couldn't get myself to care) but it was fun finding out what the original stories of Aladdin and Sinbad were all about, and I enjoyed the Cododad and the Singing Tree tales. The storytelling style was quite different from western folktales, naturally, but very cool. May need to look up a few more stories sometime, particularly that of Schezerazade. I was surprised it wasn't included among the "most famous!"
This book like a lot of fairy tales is full of really stupid people. Who would believe people who came to them and said their wife gave birth to a dog, a cat, and a log? Seriously how stupid can you be? Its also full of idiots who can't follow directions like, "Don't open the golden door."
I know that it wouldn't have a story if they weren't so stupid but sometimes I am just frustrated with the complete absurdity of it all.
The stories are charming and memorable, but it is the Maxfield Parrish illustrations that really make this edition stand out among other collections of The Arabian Nights. The dovetail so nicely, in expression, mysticism, and tone, with the stories in the book that the paintings almost seem integral to the book, as if they were created at the same time as the story. Choose this edition above another!
Sarah Rice
My dad gave me this edition as a kid and I love it, yellow pages and everything. The Talking Bird, The Singing Tree and The Golden Fountain (cover illustration) is my favourite story, unsurprising since it's the only one with a strong female character in it. I wish they had included something about Periezade and Sheherazade for that reason, but I still love it to pieces.
While this book would still be nice as a reissued copy or even, *shudder* a paperback, the one I've read is an original 1909 edition, complete with yellowed pages, ancient color pictures, and a note to Mary Jane from Grandpa, Christmas 1931. It's very easily the most imposing book I own, nicely written and gorgeously illustrated.
I enjoyed this book, but was frustrated that again I only got some of the stories (abridged). Of course I knew that when I picked it up, but it's still my complaint.

Warning: This was originally published in 1909 and does include not very PC language. I wasn't horrified by this like some others but it's worth mentioning.
Even knowing when the Arabian Nights were originally written, the stories were still surprisingly racist! None of the characters seemed to learn anything, and there was no real reason to be on the 'hero's' side. I definately prefer Disney's version of Aladdin as he was actually kind and good natured.
This felt more like a dose of cultural medicine than entertainment. The Arabian Nights tales that everyone has heard of are famous for good reason and it was fun to read the full, original stories. But most of the others never managed to break above mildly interesting.
I actually listened to the audio version of this book. At first I thought the voiceover artist was Claire Bloom, but I think in fact it was Johanna Ward. The ISBNs of the audio book are ISBN-10: 0786117982 and ISBN-13: 978-0786117987. It is available through
These tales are so hypnotic it is no wonder they have survived for so long. The beauty is also not just the stories themselves but how they are told with a rhythm to the language. I think listening to them in audio format was especially great.
Classic storytelling. I'd forgotten about certain stylistic elements, and this really reminded of other myths and fairy tales I need to re-read!

I ran out of time to finish this one. Will definitely come back to it.
Just A. Bean
Ugh. Listening to this on mp3, but gave up after the second evil black character in a row rolled on to an evil Jew. May try a different translation.

Was only reading for Sinbad fanfic research anyway.
Was quaint to read an old translation of the tales. Had the most of any other book I've read claiming to be a collection of Arabian Nights themed stories.
I have read the first story in this book. This is such a classic book I do want to finish it someday, but I have other books I would rather read right now.
I have always heard of these tales in other stories, but had never actually read them. They are short, very easy to read, and very entertaining.
Jim Genzano
Eventually I'll have to read the entire, unabridged Arabian Nights, but this was interesting.
Dave Peticolas

A nice set of Arabian Nights stories with illustrations by Maxfield Parrish and an interesting introduction by Mark Helprin.

We've listened to these on CD in the car. I was spellbound; however, the kids got NOTHING out of them at all.
A perenial favorite. I specialized in Middle East history due to this book and its exotic influence on me.
Jim Sanderson
Grand fun from another time and place, enhanced by wonderful illustrations...
Feb 12, 2010 Jen is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I lucked out and have a first edition copy. The illustrations are beautiful!
Got it for the Parrish illustrations.
It was entertaining enough.
Abel Caine fiji
This is a book for the ages
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