The "Aldine" Edition of
The Arabian Nights Entertainments
Illustrated by S. L. Wood
FROM THE TEXT OF DR. JONATHAN SCOTT
In Four Volumes
Only 500 copies of the Small Paper Edition are printed
for America, of which this is No. 217
Pickering and Chatto
The Publishers' Preface.
This, the "Aldine Edition" of "The Arabian Nights Entertainments," forms the first four volumes of a proposed series of reprints of the Standard works of fiction which have appeared in the English language.
It is our intention to publish the series in an artistic way, well illustrating a text typographically as perfect as possible. The texts in all cases will be carefully chosen from approved editions.
The series is intended for those who appreciate well printed and illustrated books, or who are in want of a handy and handsome edition of such works to place upon their bookshelves.
The exact origin of the Tales, which appear in the Arabic as "The Thousand and One Nights," is unknown. The Caliph Haroon al Rusheed, who, figures in so lifelike a manner in many of the stories, was a contemporary of the Emperor Charlemagne, and there is internal evidence that the collection was made in the Arabic language about the end of the tenth century.
They undoubtedly convey a picturesque impression of the manners, sentiments, and customs of Eastern Mediaeval Life.
The stories were translated from the Arabic by M. Galland and first found their way into English in 1704, when they were retranslated from M. Galland's French text and at once became exceedingly popular.
This process of double translation had great disadvantages; it induced Dr. Jonathan Scott, Oriental Professor, to publish in 1811, a new edition, revised and corrected from the Arabic.
It is upon this text that the present edition is formed.
It will be found free from that grossness which is unavoidable in a strictly literal translation of the original into English; and which has rendered the splendid translations of Sir R. Burton and Mr. J. Payne quite unsuitable as the basis of a popular edition, though at the same time stamping the works as the two most perfect editions for the student.
The scholarly translation of Lane, by the too strict an adherence to Oriental forms of expression, and somewhat pedantic rendering of the spelling of proper names, is found to be tedious to a very large number of readers attracted by the rich imagination, romance, and humour of these tales.