Ten of the best known tales from The Arabian Nights including: "The Talking Bird, the Singing Tree, and the Golden Water", "The Fisherman and the Jinni", "The Young King of the Black Isles", "Gulnare of the Sea", "Aladdin", "The Story of Prince Agib", "The City of Brass", "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves", "Codadad and His Brothers", and "Sinbad the Sailor".
"Good story - bad narrator"
There was an emperor of Persia named Kosrouschah, who, when he first came to his crown, in order to obtain knowledge of affairs, took great pleasure in night excursions, attended by a trusty minister. He often walked in disguise through the city, and met with many adventures, one of the most remarkable of which happened to him upon his first ramble, which was not long after his accession to the throne of his father.
After spending all the wealth left to him by his father, Sinbad goes to sea to repair his fortune. He sets ashore on what appears to be an island, but this island proves to be a gigantic sleeping whale on which trees have taken root ever since the world was young. Awakened by a fire kindled by the sailors, the whale dives into the depths, the ship departs without Sinbad, and Sinbad is saved by the grace of Allah.
"This is a clever use of the imagination."
The original story of Aladdin is a Persian folk tale. It concerns an impoverished young ne'er-do-well named Aladdin who is recruited by a sorcerer from the Maghreb. The sorcerer persuades young Aladdin to retrieve a wonderful oil lamp from a booby-trapped magic cave. After the sorcerer attempts to double-cross him, Aladdin finds himself trapped in the cave. Fortunately, Aladdin retained a magic ring lent to him by the sorcerer. When he rubs his hands in despair, he inadvertently rubs the ring, and a jinni appears, who takes him home to his mother.
There was, in olden time, and in an ancient age and period, in the land of the Persians, a king named Shahzeman, and the place of his residence was Khorassan. He had not been blest, during his whole life, with a male child nor a female; and he reflected upon this, one day, and lamented that the greater portion of his life had passed, and he had no heir to take the kingdom after him as he had inherited it from his fathers and forefathers. So the utmost grief befell him on this account.
Ali Baba and his elder brother Cassim are the sons of a merchant. After the death of their father, the greedy Cassim marries a wealthy woman and becomes well-to-do, building on their father's business - but Ali Baba marries a poor woman and settles into the trade of a woodcutter. One day Ali Baba is at work collecting and cutting firewood in the forest, and he happens to overhear a group of forty thieves visiting their treasure store. The treasure is in a cave, the mouth of which is sealed by magic.
There was an old, poor fisherman who cast his net four times a day and only four times. One day he went to the shore and cast his net. When he tried to pull it up, he found it to be heavy. When he dove in and pulled up the net, he found a dead donkey in it. Then he cast his net again and netted a pitcher full of dirt. Then he cast his net for a third time and netted shards of pottery and glass.
There formerly reigned in the city of Harran a most magnificent and potent sultan, who loved his subjects, and was equally beloved by them. He was endued with all virtues, and wanted nothing to complete his happiness but an heir.
On nights 566 to 578, Shahrazad entertained her sultan with the tale of the City of Brass. She told how a Caliph sent an expedition under Emir Musa to explore in Africa. There they found a vast deserted castle, a jinni imprisoned in a pillar, and finally the City of Brass itself, with its people lying dead in the streets and houses.
I was a king, and the son of a king; and when my father died, I succeeded to his throne, and governed my subjects with justice and beneficence. I took pleasure in sea-voyages; and my capital was on the shore of an extensive sea, interspersed with fortified and garrisoned islands, which I desired, for my amusement, to visit; I therefore embarked with a fleet of ten ships, and took with me provisions sufficient for a whole month.