Study Guide

Introduction & Overview of The Arabian Nights by Richard Francis Burton

This Study Guide consists of approximately 112 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Arabian Nights.
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The Arabian Nights Summary & Study Guide Description

The Arabian Nights Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains For Further Reading and a Free Quiz on The Arabian Nights by Richard Francis Burton.

The first printed edition of the tales, which was based on the Syrian version, was published by Fort Williams College in Calcutta and edited by Shaikh Ahmad ibn-Mahmud Shirawani, an instructor of Arabic at the college. The first European translation was by the French statesman Antoine Galland, whose editions appeared in twelve small volumes between 1703 and 1713.

The public response to Galland's work was positive and immediate: translations and versions of the tales spread throughout Europe. The first English translation was made by Edward Lane in 1841, followed by John Payne in 1881 and, most famously, Sir Richard Burton in 1885. Burton, who relied heavily on Payne's earlier work (and is even said to have plagiarized much of it), published his version in ten volumes as a private edition of one thousand under his imprint of Kama Shastra Society. He later added an additional six volumes of supplemental material, which he called Supplemental Nights. Burton's edition quickly sold out, providing him with his first profit ever as a writer, and he was in the early 2000s credited as the popularizer of the tales among English-language readers.

Historically considered by Arabic scholars as a form of "low brow" literature and rarely regarded for its literary merits, The Arabian Nights, in its many incarnations, was in the twenty-first century considered nonetheless a classic of Western literature and continued to be one of its most influential works.

The Plot Summary, Characters, Themes, and Style sections below discuss the stories from Book 1 of the The Arabian Nights.

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Short Stories for Students
The Arabian Nights from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.