Friday, April 13, 2012

The One Thousand and One Nights (41st book)

I finally finished a book I started two years ago,  The One Thousand and One  Nights. I picked up this book at a used bookstore for $6 a few summers ago and when I took a trip to Victoria, BC that I called, "Operation Valentines Retreat" I decided it was the perfect book to read while on a holiday. The sole purpose of "Operation Valentines Retreat" was to pamper myself on Valentines when the world tells us that someone else should be doing it for us.  I booked myself a hotel, had coffee and tea in a different shop every couple of hours, and took long bubble baths in hotel while reading. I think this book will always be tied into that time for me and it seems to fit with the book which is definitely a divergent from real life. When I arrived home however, I kind of let the book fall by the wayside even though I only had a hundred or so pages left. Thankfully when the book was the book of the month on the Goodreads "1001 Books to Read Before you Die" group I decided to finally finish it. I can finally tick this book off the list that I have read, even though I have mostly been done for 2 years.

Told as a series of tales to a King who was bent on killing Shahrazad his virgin bride after he had his way with her  the stories always ended leading into another one, so the King would be desirous of keeping her alive for one more night. The stories are very tied into Middle Eastern culture and I was fascinated to learn a ton of new words including Jinn (which is a genie), Wezir (advisor), Khan (hotel I think) and many others. It was also very neat to see how tied into everyday life their faith and religion were. Most stories have profuse praises to God when the characters are spared a horrible fate or granted an unexpected blessing. I loved the phrase, "till they were visited by the terminator of delights and the seperator of companions".

I was saddened to learn that the Harvard classics version that I had was misisng quite a few stories from the longer complete addition. It was also apparently "bowdlerized" or had all the inappropriate sexual content taken out. I always feel that if I am going to read something I need to do it right with the full length, non abridged version. I don't, however, think I loved this book enough to go through the trouble to find the more extensive version to read the nights that I am missing. I think my version ends on night 756 out of the 1001. I was pleased however that it included Ali Baba and the 40 Theives and Al-ed-din or Alladin and the Lamp. These two stories were believed to be an add on not included in the original text. As such they are usually tagged on to the end of the book as a supplement as they were in the case of the book I was reading.

Alright that is my review of 1001 nights. Now that I have finished this I might see what other books I can finish on my shelf that I have half done!

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