(Benares: Printed by the Kamashastra Society for private subscribers only, 1885-88). 254 x 159 mm. (10 x 6 1/4"). Together, 16 volumes. FIRST PRINTING OF THIS EDITION.
Very pleasing rose colored crushed half morocco over buckram boards by Brian Frost & Co. (signed on verso of front endpaper of each volume), raised bands, spine panels with gilt floral centerpiece or titling, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. Title pages printed in red and black. Penzer, pp. 114 (volumes 1-10), 115-16 (supplemental volumes, 11-16). First and last few leaves of each volume generally with light foxing (a few of these leaves a bit more foxed), the text a shade less than bright because of paper stock chosen, but still A VERY FINE COPY, the especially lustrous binding without fault, and with no signs of use internally.
Probably derived from Egyptian and Persian origins, the "Arabian Nights' Entertainment," or "The Thousand and One Nights" has as its framework the story of a king who kills successive wives on the morning after the consummation of their marriage. The fatal pattern is broken by the wily Scheherazade, who enthralls her husband (and the reader) with stories so pleasing that her life is spared. The stories first appeared in a European language with the publication of a French translation by Antoine Galland early in the 18th century, and they were first done into English, with some omissions, by Edward William Lane in 1838-41. The present famous translation by Burton is the first unexpurgated version. The work was privately printed, as its erotic nature was much too explicit for the general Victorian audience. In any case, this very substantial undertaking is "by far the most celebrated of all of his books. . . . As a monument of his Arabic learning and his encyclopedic knowledge of Eastern life, this translation was his greatest achievement." (Britannica) Although the binding here is not especially decorative, it obviously has been done by able craftsmen using good quality materials. And the book has apparently been the property of very careful (or very strait-laced) owners, because it appears to have been virtually untouched. (CTS1002)
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PJP Catalog: 67.006