Publication Date

April 2016


Joseph Fitzpatrick


College of Letters


English (United States)


The One Thousand and One Nights (Arabic: Alf Layla wa-Layla), or The Arabian Nights as it’s more commonly known in English, is a collection of stories narrated by Scheherazade, the fictional protagonist who spins wonderful, never-ending tales in an attempt to save her own life. The Nights captured the hearts and minds of 18th and 19th-century European readers, but there were three translations in particular, the translations of Antoine Galland, Edward Lane, and Richard Burton, that eclipsed all others. While each approached the Nights with markedly different perspectives on the text and how it was meant to be translated, all three men turned to the world of the Nights as a way to express their own ideas about the Orient. These ideas were both shaped by and constructed specifically for their respective readerships, and as such paint a much more faithful picture of early 18th-century France and Victorian England than of the Orient that Galland, Lane, and Burton were attempting to reproduce. What can be gleaned from these translations, therefore, is a very rough yet fascinating evolution of 18th and 19th-century European attitudes towards the Orient.



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