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The Arabian Nights: A Companion

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  79 ratings  ·  11 reviews
The Arabian Nights: A Companion guides the reader into this celebrated labyrinth of storytelling. It traces the development of the stories from prehistoric India and Pharaonic Egypt to modern times. It explores the history of the translation, and explains the ways in which its contents have been added to, plagiarized and imitated. Above all, the book uses the stories as a ...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published January 17th 2004 by Tauris Parke Paperbacks (first published January 1st 1997)
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I am tempted to give this book a higher rating because of the breadth and quality of the scholarship. It is clear that Irwin has had to scour many obscure texts in many languages (most remain untranslated) that are furthermore only available in a few libraries around the world. Much of the information he collects I do not have access to anywhere else. I am excited by all I have learned from this text.

Irwin's purpose was to give a rather broad survey of themes related to the Nights (including or
Jim Coughenour
Robert Irwin's "companion" is a treasure to anyone intrigued by the fabulous miscellany of The Arabian Nights. Irwin begins with the convoluted history of its translations (a story more richly told in his recent book, Dangerous Knowledge). In one of the ironies of world literature, these tales were long scorned by Arab scholars, who preferred poetry to prose, but wildly celebrated upon their first – often garbled – transmissions in Europe.

Irwin is an excellent guide to the esoterica of Arabian "
Der Kompass auf dem Ozean der Geschichten

Die 1001 Nacht, eine Geschichtensammlung ohne klaren Ursprung, ohne Autor, ohne definierten Textkorpus? Man muss als Analyst dieser Geschichten so einige liebgewonnene Gewohnheiten aufgeben, die man sich bei europäischen Geschichtensammlungen dieses Typs zugelegt hat, denn die 1001 Nacht ist in jeder Beziehung anders. Bei dieser Umgewöhnung soll dieser Begleiter helfen.

Dabei werden unterschiedliche Kriterien an den Text angelegt - sowohl die Textgeschicht
Jun 01, 2007 arafat rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of 1001 Nights
This is a good reader, and not just as a companion to the Arabian Nights. The book reads almost like a cultural history (esp. of literature and the arts) of the medieval Near East. Irwin does a great job of reviewing the history of the Nights tradition, starting from some of the early (Indian) sources all the way up to the 18th/19th century French/British translation enterprise. There's a lot to learn here and while the book isn't academic in the sense of dense, daunting prose (that's a complime ...more
Overall this book did not shed much light on the Arabian Nights in a critical sense. The focus was more on how the tales fit in with other books or collections of stories (such as The Decameron) and other entertainments of the time. Interesting that storytellers would recite their tales in cafes for money. A bygone era. If you are looking for literary criticism of the Arabian Nights, look elsewhere.
better than reading the actual Arabian Nights, which i found fairly boring at times, your companion, the author robert irwin, is one amazingly knowledgable and witty raconteur on this wondrous voyage through history and literature and fascinating anecdote. delectable.
Jul 01, 2012 Edith rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: adab
Irwin does a good job explaining the background of the tales drawing from social history and literary sources. (It baffles me why there are no annotated versions of the Arabian Nights available, which would provide more insight into the lore behind the stories).
Haythem Bastawy
A very helpful and resourceful guide on The Arabian Nights with plenty of information on the its several translations, criticism and influences on past and contemporary literature.
Incredible reference work! If you love the 1001 Nights, you really need this to bring that work alive and put it in a greater context.
"being influenced is an active process and writers actually hunt for the books they wish to be influenced by..."
Nero Grimes
Helped point me in the right direction in a lot of ways
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Goodreads Librari...: Remove "Anonymous" as author 2 25 Feb 02, 2014 07:12AM  
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Robert Irwin was born in 1946. He read Modern History at Oxford and taught Medieval History at the University of St Andrews. He also lectured on Arabic and Middle Eastern History at the universities of London, Cambridge and Oxford. He is the commissioning editor for the TLS for The Middle East and writes for a number of newspapers and journals in the UK and the USA.

Robert Irwin goes rollerblading
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