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The Arabian Nights Their Best-known Tales   By: (1859-1934)

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The Arabian Nights is a timeless collection of folk tales and enchanting stories that have captivated readers for centuries. Nora Archibald Smith, in her compilation titled Their Best-known Tales, brings these stories to life once more, enchanting readers with her masterful retellings.

The book contains a selection of the most iconic and cherished stories from the Arabian Nights. From the magical adventures of Aladdin and his wondrous lamp to the epic storytelling of Sinbad the Sailor, readers are transported to a world filled with love, betrayal, magic, and adventure. The vivid descriptions and meticulous detail in Smith's retellings breathe new life into these ancient tales, making them accessible and engaging for modern readers.

One of the book's highlights is the author's ability to capture the essence of Middle Eastern culture and folklore. By staying faithful to the original stories while infusing her own unique voice, Smith seamlessly takes the reader on a journey through time and space. The lush imagery and evocative language used in each story evoke a sense of Arabian mystique, inviting readers to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of this ancient culture.

Moreover, the book doesn't limit itself to well-known stories but also includes lesser-known gems that deserve recognition. Each tale is carefully selected to offer a variety of themes, characters, and settings, ensuring that there is something for everyone. Whether it is the dramatic tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves or the moral lessons embedded within the story of The Fisherman and the Jinni, the narrative pacing and skillful storytelling keep readers engaged from beginning to end.

In addition to the captivating narratives, Smith incorporates informative introductions and notes that provide historical context and shed light on the origins of these tales. This not only enhances the reading experience but also provides valuable background knowledge, allowing readers to fully appreciate the cultural significance of the stories they are encountering.

One minor criticism of the book is that some readers may find Smith's retellings to be slightly abridged, missing out on certain subtleties or nuances present in the original texts. However, this can be forgiven as it allows for a more concise and accessible reading experience, making it an ideal introduction to the world of Arabian folklore for readers of all ages.

In conclusion, The Arabian Nights: Their Best-known Tales by Nora Archibald Smith is a captivating collection that showcases the timeless allure and cultural significance of these Arabian stories. Smith's skillful retelling and her ability to transport readers to a world of magic and wonder make this book a must-read for anyone seeking an escape into the realm of fantastic adventures and ethereal narratives.

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Copyright, 1909, by CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

Published October, 1909


Little excuse is needed, perhaps, for any fresh selection from the famous "Tales of a Thousand and One Nights," provided it be representative enough, and worthy enough, to enlist a new army of youthful readers. Of the two hundred and sixty four bewildering, unparalleled stories, the true lover can hardly spare one, yet there must always be favourites, even among these. We have chosen some of the most delightful, in our opinion; some, too, that chanced to appeal particularly to the genius of the artist. If, enticed by our choice and the beauty of the pictures, we manage to attract a few thousand more true lovers to the fountain book, we shall have served our humble turn. The only real danger lies in neglecting it, in rearing a child who does not know it and has never fallen under its spell.

You remember Maimoune, in the story of Prince Camaralzaman, and what she said to Danhasch, the genie who had just arrived from the farthest limits of China? "Be sure thou tellest me nothing but what is true or I shall clip thy wings!" This is what the modern child sometimes says to the genies of literature, and his own wings are too often clipped in consequence... Continue reading book >>

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