The Thousand and One Arabian Nights

Biography of Author

Strictly speaking there is no author.

Due to the storytelling traditions of the Middle East, these tales were not written down for centuries, but told over the course of several centuries, primarily in the Arabian and Asian lands.

Although this work is known to be representative of Arabic culture, there are many cultures and time periods that it is derived from: ancient Mesopotamia, India, early Medieval Persia and Iraq, and the Egypt of the Middle Ages. 

The first written version of The Arabian Nights is a Persian book, written at an estimated 225 AD.  From there that book was translated into Arabic around 850.  This book has been referred to, but it now lost.  The stories continued to be passed down orally during this time, especially by professional storytellers in coffeehouses all over the Middle East.  During this time, between the tenth and sixteenth centuries, the stories became modified, as is true with most oral tales.

There is no definitive Arabic textual source of this work.  The stories that are compiled today come from multiple sources.

In the early 1700s, European discovered the stories of Arabian Nights.  There are multiple translations that are made.  John Payne's written work is considered the first complete translation.  However, due the Victorian era in which he lived, the stories are heavily expurgated, to cover the exoticism and eroticism of the stories.

Husain Haddawy is the author in which our textbook uses.  His rendition is one of the most commonly used used students and scholars.