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Editorial Reviews

The Arabian Nights assembles tales from centuries of Arabic, Persian, Indian, Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures in an enchanting collection whose varied characters, storylines, and methods of describing them have influenced modern genres as diverse as fantasy, science fiction, and detective fiction. The collection employs the frame tale of a woman staving off her execution by telling stories that leave her husband, the sultan, in such suspense that he continuously postpones the sentence. Suehyla El Attar embodies Scheherazade, performing the collection with a feminine wile, as well as enthusiastically voicing the gruff beasts and powerful heroes like Aladdin, Ali Ba Ba, and Sinbad the Sailor who make this audiobook such an intoxicating stimulant to the imagination.

Publisher's Summary

Full of mischief, valor, ribaldry, and romance, The Arabian Nights has enthralled readers for centuries. These are the tales that saved the life of Scheherazade, whose husband, the king, executed each of his wives after a single night of marriage. Beginning an enchanting story each evening, Scheherazade always withheld the ending: A thousand and one nights later, her life was spared forever.

Public Domain (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Performance

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good, But Not Burton

What did you love best about The Arabian Nights?

The length and breadth of the stories is amazing. The combination of real and imaginary places, people, animals, and supernatural beings is dazzling. These stories are works of imagination of a high order. They also provide a great many insights into the Islamic world of the Middle Ages that created them.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Harun al-Rashid of course. He was the fifth Arab Abbasid Caliph. He ruled from 786 to 809. His reign make well have been the apogee of the Islamic Golden Age. He promoted Islamic art and music along with science and commerce.

Which scene was your favorite?

So many come to mind, it is hard to choose. The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor stand out. However, the tale of the Christian, Jew, and Muslim who all plead guilty to a murder they did not commit (to save someone else) is noteworthy as well.

Any additional comments?

This is both a good to great, and limited narration of the Arabian Nights. The single best feature of this narration is its length (11 hours and 35 minutes). The Arabian Nights is very large collection of stories of varying quality. However, even the very best stories still take many, many hours to narrate. Some of the other audiobooks narrating the Arabian Nights are just too short. This one is not.

Initially I was somewhat wary of a female narration. The stories are generally written from a male perspective and implied storyteller is almost always male. However, after listening to this audiobook, I can strongly recommend Suehyla El Attar's narration.

Others have suggested that this narration is not based on the Burton translations of the Arabian Nights (Lang is suggested as the source). This may or may not be true. However, the language does not appear to be Burton's. Most of the sex and violence has been authentically retained from the original stories. However, the Islamic character and context has been largely deleted. These are (mostly) stories from the Islamic Middle Ages and the Burton translation retained the pervasive Islamic environment of the stories. This version does not.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Not unabridged Burton--this is Lang

What disappointed you about The Arabian Nights?

The selection is advertised as the unabridged Burton translation, but it is actually the abridged Lang version.

What was most disappointing about Richard Francis Burton (translator)’s story?

This was not Burton's translation, but rather Lang's bowdlerization.

Which scene was your favorite?

The frame story of Shahrazad.

What character would you cut from The Arabian Nights?

None--but Lang cut freely.

Any additional comments?

Change the advertising as soon as possible. I am sure there is a market for this version of the Arabian Nights, and the voice performer is excellent.

30 of 34 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Not the same as my book!

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Let's start with the positive - the narrators voice was great - engaging - and pleasant.

Now for the bad.... the translation was so very PG13 that it made me feel dumb. The Burton version I have describes the wives betrayal in the garden ever so much differently that the audio book! I had to stop listening. It is NOT what I have read - and I just couldn't take it anymore!

Has The Arabian Nights turned you off from other books in this genre?

No.

What does Suehyla El Attar bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I really enjoyed listening to Suehyla El Attar

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

No. It is totally different than the paperback I have in my library.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Stories without endings due to translation

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Anybody who enjoys cliffhangers without resolution, which is to say, nobody. This translation not only is missing many stories, but the stories themselves have been left unfinished.

Has The Arabian Nights turned you off from other books in this genre?

Not at all, however, it has made me look closer at fellow reviewers and do more research on translations before buying. Also, it would help if the correct translation was listed in the item description

How could the performance have been better?

If the performer had read from the correct translation

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger and curiosity, I will now be buying the print version of the Lyons translation in order to hear all of the stories and find out what happens in "the porter and the three ladies of baghdad"

Any additional comments?

Please correct the item description so that it states translation by Lang

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Entertaining but Archaic!

Some entertaining tales, some mystical tales, some romantic tales and a whole lot of Islamic paternalism.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful