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The Arabian Nights
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Book Issues > Arabian Nights - Original Publication date

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Melanti | 761 comments I was looking at The Arabian Nights and noticed the original publication date is wrong.

It was showing 1991 which is obviously not correct since some of the editions combined predated that. I changed it back to 800, which is what it was before people started messing with it, but that's wrong too.

The problem is, this particular book record is really messy. You have a lot of books with drastically different contents all combined together.

And since the tales have such a complicated publication history, that makes it really difficult to pinpoint when it should be considered first published. Some of what we think of today as part of the Arabian Nights were actually added in by the 19th century translators.

Could I get an official ruling on this? I was thinking of setting the original publication date to 1888, since from what I know, Burton was the last guy to add material to what we English speakers think of as The Arabian Nights.

The current estimate that's in there - 800 - is the date of the earliest mention of the tales, but that was most likely a MUCH shorter manuscript.

message 2: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

rivka | 45510 comments Mod
Think of the later versions as revised editions. I think 800 is consistent with our usual practice.

Melanti | 761 comments Thanks Rivka. I'll leave it at 800 then.

message 4: by Emy (new)

Emy (emypt) | 5038 comments Query: If there is a significant difference between the original 9thC versions and Burton's version, does that count as an adaptation?

message 5: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

rivka | 45510 comments Mod
The line between translations and adaptations definitely blurs in this case. There are some versions -- adaptations for kids, for example -- that definitely should not be combined with the rest. For others, it's best to rely on content. (10 stories? 100?)

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