The Arabian Nights, ed. Muhsin Mahdi, tr. Hussein Haddawy

A translation of one of the classic Arabian Nights manuscripts, with some familiar stories absent (Aladdin, Sinbad, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves) but lots more, all giving a very vivid picture of a time and a number of places in a world stretching from Egypt to India as a single cultural unit, but centred on Baghdad and Persia. There's a lot of fairly intricate nesting of stories within stories – I think it was four layers deep at one point – but all rather entertaining, with of course some stories displaying the prejudices of the day, but others giving women agency – including the framing narrative. I actually started with the Burton translation, but found it unreadable; this is much better.

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