Title: Book of the Thousand Nights & a Night, A Plain and Literal Translation of the Arabian Nights Entertainments, complete set of 10 volumes and 6 supplemental volumes
Author: Richard F Burton (trans & notes)
Publisher: The Burton Club, privately printed for subscribers. Exact date unknown, almost impossible to determine: printed sometime in the early/mid 20th century.
Condition: Hardcover, decorative cloth. One frontispiece illustration per volume. Top edge tinted red. Deckle edges.
Interior is just about perfect, exterior is very good, with a bit of rubbing and staining, especially on volume 10. A very nice set.
Generally considered to be the most complete and extensively annotated version of Arabian Nights ever made available.
Please note that shipping overseas will cost quite a bit more.
About the volumes (from wikipedia):
The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (1885), subtitled A Plain and Literal Translation of the Arabian Nights Entertainments, is a celebrated English language translation of One Thousand and One Nights (the “Arabian Nights”) – a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age (8th −13th centuries) – by the British explorer and Arabist Richard Francis Burton (1821–1890).
Burton’s translation was one of two unabridged and unexpurgated English translations done in the 1880s; the first was by John Payne, under the title The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night (1882–84, nine volumes). Burton’s ten volume version was published almost immediately afterward with a slightly different title. This, along with the fact that Burton closely advised Payne and partially based his books on Payne’s, led later to charges of plagiarism. Owing to the sexual imagery in the source texts (which Burton made a special study of, adding extensive footnotes and appendices on “Oriental” sexual mores) and to the strict Victorian laws on obscene material, both translations were printed as private editions for subscribers only, rather than being published in the usual manner. Burton’s original ten volumes were followed by a further six entitled The Supplemental Nights to the Thousand Nights and a Night (1886–88).
Burton – an accomplished geographer, explorer, orientalist, ethnologist, diplomat, polylinguist and author – was best known in his lifetime for travelling in disguise to Mecca (1853) and for journeying (with John Hanning Speke) as the first European to visit the Great Lakes of Africa in search of the source of the Nile (1857–58). One of the great Arabists of his day, he had long wanted to publish an unexpurgated version of the “Arabian Nights” stories. The first translations into English, notably that by Edward Lane (1840, 1859), were highly abridged and heavily bowdlerised, which irritated Burton.
In 1863 Burton co-founded the Anthropological Society of London with Dr. James Hunt. In Burton’s own words, the main aim of the society (through the publication of the periodical Anthropologia) was “to supply travelers with an organ that would rescue their observations from the outer darkness of manuscript and print their curious information on social and sexual matters”. Burton had written numerous travel books which invariably included sexual curiosa in extensive footnotes and appendices. His best-known contributions to literature were those considered risqué or even pornographic at the time and which were published under the auspices of the “Kama Shastra Society”, a fictitious organisation created by Burton and Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot as a legal device to avoid the consequences of current obscenity laws. (Burton and Arbuthnot were the only members of the “Society”.) These works included The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana (1883), published just before his Nights, and The Perfumed Garden of the Shaykh Nefzawi (1886), published just after it.