The Translators Foreword.
After offering my cordial thanks to friends and subscribers who have honoured The Thousand Nights and a Night (Kama Shastra Society) with their patronage and approbation, I would inform them that my Anthropological Notes are by no means exhausted, and that I can produce a complete work only by means of a somewhat extensive Supplement. I therefore propose to print (not publish), for private circulation only, five volumes, bearing the title
to the book of
The Thousand Nights and a Night
This volume and its successor (Nos. i. and ii.) contain Mr. John Paynes Tales from the Arabic; his three tomes being included in my two. The stories are taken from the Breslau Edition where they are distributed among the volumes between Nos. iv and xii., and from the Calcutta fragment of 1814. I can say little for the style of the story-stuff contained in this Breslau text, which has been edited with phenomenal incuriousness. Many parts are hopelessly corrupted, whilst at present we have no means of amending the commissions and of supplying the omissions by comparison with other manuscripts. The Arabic is not only faulty, but dry and jejune, comparing badly with that of the Thousand Nights and a Night, as it appears in the Macnaghten and the abridged Bulak Texts. Sundry of the tales are futile; the majority has little to recommend it, and not a few require a diviner rather than a translator. Yet they are valuable to students as showing the different sources and the heterogeneous materials from and of which the great Saga-book has been compounded. Some are, moreover, striking and novel, especially parts of the series entitled King Shah Bakht and his Wazir Al-Rahwan (pp. 191-355). Interesting also is the Tale of the Ten Wazirs (pp. 55-155), marking the transition of the Persian Bakhtiyár-Námeh into Arabic. In this text also and in this only is found Gallands popular tale Abou-Hassan; or, the Sleeper Awakened, which I have entitled The Sleeper and the Waker.
In the ten volumes of The Nights proper, I mostly avoided parallels of folk-lore and fabliaux which, however interesting and valuable to scholars, would have over-swollen the bulk of a work especially devoted to Anthropology. In the Supplementals, however, it is otherwise; and, as Mr. W.A. Clouston, the Storiologist, has obligingly agreed to collaborate with me, I shall pay marked attention to this subject, which will thus form another raison dête for the additional volumes.
Richard F. Burton
Junior Travellers Club,
December 1, 1886