Friday, December 20, 2013

Aladdin read aloud

Here is the Aladdin story read by actor John Krasinski (who also plays Jim Halpert on the US version of the show The Office) for the children's site Speakaboos. The titles say "written by Antoine Galland."

Link -

Monday, December 16, 2013

"The Story of the Forty Maidens": Introduction and Translation by Bruce Fudge

Here is the story "The Story of the Forty Maidens": Introduction and
Translation by Bruce Fudge.

You can find it here - Middle Eastern Literatures, 2013
Vol. 16, No. 2, 203–216,

Or download it here -

From the story's intro:

"The story is found in the collection known as Kitāb al-ḥikāyāt al-ʿajıb̄ a wa-l-akhbār algharıb̄
a (The Book of the Wonderful Stories and Strange Reports), which is based on a
unique Istanbul manuscript (Aya Sofya 3397), first brought to orientalist attention by
Helmut Ritter and subsequently published by Hans Wehr in 1956.2 Although 42 tales
are listed, only 18 are preserved in what seems to have been the first of two volumes.
Four of these are very similar versions of tales found in the Thousand and One Nights:
‘the Barber’s Six Brothers’ (in the Ḥikāyāt as ‘Story of the Six’), ‘Jullanār of the Sea’,
‘Abū Muḥammad the Lazy’ and ‘Jubayr ibn ʿUmayr and the Lady Budūr’ (which
appears in the Ḥikāyāt as ‘ʿUmayr bin Jubayr’). As the Istanbul manuscript has been
dated to the early eighth/14th century, it is at least as old as the oldest known manuscript
of the Nights, that used by Antoine Galland and the basis of the critical edition of Muhsin
Mahdi. This makes it of particular interest for the history of the Thousand and One Nights
itself as well as Arabic narrative in general."

Friday, November 29, 2013

Jinn (2014)

Thanks to Paul for passing this along. Jinn is an upcoming horror film to be released in April of 2014. Unlike other Jinn/Jann/Djinn/Genie related fare, this one seems to be adhering to an "authentic" portrayal of these disruptive spirits.

The Jinn are frequent characters in the Nights, though generally lumped together into a sort of mystical genie caricature. They are, however, different types and different personalities.

The film is reviewed here on Fangoria, the popular horror magazine that you all should subscribe to:

"The horrific side of Eastern mythological folklore is coming to the U.S., as the supernatural horror film JINN has set a release date.

JINN (no relation to Tobe Hooper’s forthcoming DJINN) will open courtesy of Exxodus Pictures and Freestyle Releasing April 4, 2014. Written and directed by Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad, the film stars Dominic Rains (pictured above), Serinda Swan, Ray Park, Faran Tahir and William Atherton; here’s the pitch: “In the beginning, three were created. Man made of clay. Angels made of light. And a third made of fire. For centuries, stories of angels and men have captured the imagination and been etched into history crossing all boundaries of culture, religion and time. These two races have dominated the landscape of modern mythology, shrouding the evidence that a third was ever created. This third race, born of smokeless fire, was named the jinn. Modern man has all but forgotten this third race ever existed. It is time for him to remember.”

Monday, November 25, 2013

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and The 1001 Nights

Melquiades the Gypsy and The Metal Ingots by Lozano Mary (for sale (with other Cien Anos inspired paintings) at: -

Just finished teaching One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A remarkable book and most surprising, perhaps, for its secret resilience to the outside world which, for the most part, has chosen to either vilify it as an unsurpassable hegemony or adore it in romantically annoying ways.

In any event, of course the Nights infuse themselves (in shadows) into the carpet of Solitude. They are everywhere after all. Here we have Aureliano Segundo discovering them wilting in his grandfather's forgotten workshop, having been brought to Macondo long ago (many years before?) by Melquiades:

"On the shelves were the books bound in a cardboard-like material, pale, like tanned human skin, and the manuscripts were intact. In spite of the room's having been shut up for many years, the air seemed fresher than in the rest of the house. Everything was so recent that several weeks later, when Ursula went into the room with a pail of water and a brush to wash the floor, there was nothing for her to do. Aureliano Segundo was deep in the reading of a book. Although it had no cover and the title did not appear anywhere, the boy enjoyed the story of a woman who sat at a table and ate nothing but kernels of rice, which she picked up with a pin, and the story of the fisherman who borrowed a weight for his net from a neighbor and when he gave him a fish in payment later it had a diamond in its stomach, and the one about the lamp that fulfilled wishes and about flying carpets. Surprised, he asked Ursula if all that was true and she answered him that it was, that many years ago the gypsies had brought magic lamps and flying mats to Macondo" (183).

This is from the 1970 translation by Gregory Rabassa, Harperperennial's 2006 update & etc.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Monaco Stamp - 2004

JC at Wollamshram has a great collection of 1001 Nights inspired stamps on his blog, including a very insightful post on this (pictured) one from Monaco -

Friday, November 15, 2013

Learn Arabic with Sinbad

Learn Arabic with "Sindibad" - this person on youtube has uploaded the 40 minute video with both Arabic and English subtitles.  It is basic Arabic but a helpful refresher.  You can learn how to say useful things like "mother," "father" and "are you a policeman?"!!

Sindibad is/was a hugely popular animated series (outside of the US and particularly in the Arabic speaking world) originating in the 80s or maybe even the 70s.

A new company called "Arabian Sinbad" has produced a number of these videos featuring an updated riff on the old Sindibad. Their website is here -

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hercules & The Arabian Night

Hercules was an animated television show from Disney that aired in 1998-1999. Here is a "crossover" episode called Hercules and The Arabian Night, featuring Disney's Aladdin. More info at wikipedia -

Monday, November 11, 2013

1001 Nights in the World Literary Imagination - Boston University

A Tale of 1001 Nights by Gustave Boulanger

Professor Margaret Litvin ( is teaching her Nights course again (she taught a similar course last Fall) at Boston University.

You should follow their blog, it has student and group work and presentations, and is an excellent, updated resource on the Nights and on teaching the Nights -

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Arabian Nights Village - Abu Dhabi

A new hotel resort has opened in Abu Dhabi, UAE, called "Arabian Nights Village".  Promising an authentic heritage experience in the desert, while maintaining plush Gulf standards, the hotel does not allow phones or Internet except for emergency use.

Here's their website -

and from - (

The Arabian Nights Village desert retreat has opened, designed to attract more cultural tourists to Abu Dhabi.

Spanning 85,000sqm, the Al Khatem plot is the size of 12 football pitches and aims to “raise the bar” on traditional overnight desert accommodation.

Conceived to give guests an insight into desert and traditional Emirati life, the Arabian Nights Village contains 30 double rooms, five one-bedroom suites and a three-bedroom suite, set across four themes: Bayt Al Shaaer (The Woven House), Bayt Al Bahar (House of the Sea), Bayt Al Bar (Desert Home) and Al Manhal Fort Tower.


Prices for two sharing a heritage room are Dhs1,250 ($340) for a night inclusive of service charges and tourism fees and include breakfast and dinner and most activities. The tower suites cost Dhs3,750 (US$1,000) and holds six guests.

Activities include dune bashing, quad biking, sand surfing and sledding, camel riding, falconry, henna painting and Emirati camel farm visits.  The village is also offering corporate packages and events.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Banksy's Jafar

Banksy ( has been doing a month long series of actions in New York City. He may have been responsible for these Arabic Wanted posters featuring Jafar from Disney's Aladdin, but the jury is out until he posts that it was him on his website/Instagram/wherever one needs to post to legitimize oneself.

Until then, the posters are pretty cool, they are signed in Arabic "Banksy" and say "Jafar" underneath the notorious Wizier's face. They were taken down by someone. The posters were put up with scotch tape on the side of an old CitiBank building in NY.

More here -

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tim Burton's Aladdin

Take a foreshadowing of Disney, a dash of Ray Harryhausen's Sinbad movies, shadows of The Thief of Bagdad (1940) and emanations of Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas, fairly faithful renderings of Grub Street & Galland's Aladdin and mix them with Shelley Duvall's irreverent series Faerie Tale Theatre (1982-87) and you have this entertaining variant of Aladdin (Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp) told by Tim Burton.

It is jam packed with famous 70s-80s faces including Valerie Bertinelli (One Day at a Time), Robert Carradine (Revenge of the Nerds & etc), Leonard Nimoy (Spock!) and James Earl Jones (Darth Vader), and is an interesting glimpse into Burton as a director to be.  Duvall was the lead actress in Burton's first version of Frankenweenie (1984) - which you should also go and see asap.

Here is Burton's Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp (1986) on YouTube:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

John Payne

I was lucky to find this great 15 volume set of John Payne's Nights at this awesome bookstore online (and in Kentucky) -  It cost $148, less than $10 per volume. 

I'm working on a project at the moment involving Payne, Burton and Lane and have discovered something pretty interesting that I hope to have in print somewhere soon.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Ali Baba - Polish Poster

This is an image allegedly taken from a Polish poster of a film called Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, ( - Alibaba Aur 40 Chor (1980)) from India (and, according to this poster, Russia).

Here is the film (no subtitles) on Youtube -

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Roberto Bolano - 2666

 from Roberto Bolano - 2666

"One day fortune smiled on me and I attended one of these parties.  To say I met the philosopher would be an exaggeration.  I saw him.  In a corner of the room, talking to another poet and another philosopher.  He appeared to be giving a lecture.  Then everything seemed slightly off.  The guests were waiting for the poet to make his entrance.  They were waiting for him to pick a fight.  Or to defecate in the middle of the living room, on a Turkish carpet like the threadbare carpet from the Thousand and One Nights, a battered carpet that sometimes functioned as a mirror, reflecting all of us from below.  I mean:  it turned into a mirror at the command of our spasms.  Neurochemical spasms."

p 168 (translation by Natasha Wimmer - Picador)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Aladdin City Florida

I posted about Aladdin City - a city in Florida built by a housing developer in the early 20th century.  A visitor commented that they wrote a post about Aladdin City, complete with catalog pictures and a history of the doomed urban project.  Buyers could choose from a variety of "Moorish" or "Spanish" style houses and the whole project was themed around Orientalist notions of the Nights.

Here is the very cool post -

And from it:

"The sales brochure announced: "Because the inspiration for its name is derived from the wonderful Oriental story of Aladdin and because location surroundings, climate, and vegetation so peculiarly fit it, the Persian style has been selected for the motif of Aladdin City."

The center of city was Ali Baba Circle. Inside the circle was to be Ali Baba Park, with a large pool in the middle.  Ali Cogia Circle surrounded Ali Baba Circle, and those circles would constitute the city's commercial district. Other streets in the city were named Sovereign Boulevard, Aladdin Boulevard, Damascus Street,  Cairo Street,  Hassan Street, Mustapha Avenue, Bagdad Street, Sinbad Street, Cathay Street, Sahib Street, and Mecca Avenue."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Arabian Nights 3D update

Liam Hemsworth

Thanks to Paul for passing this along - the film Arabian Nights, to be directed by Chuck Russell ( is set to go into production in August with backing from Chinese film sources and Russell, after a deal with the government of Kazakhstan fell through.

It was supposedly going to be released a year or so ago, but things were held up and it doesn't look like it will be out anytime soon, though production is a good sign for the future.

It's going to be in 3D Imax and starring Liam Hemsworth and Anthony Hopkins.

More info here, excerpts below -

"The film then dropped off the radar, until Zhejiang HG Entertainment began making noises about its involvement in the project. Speaking to the Chinese press earlier in the year, the company’s general manager Liu Zhijiang said production of Arabian Nights will begin in August, with Russell, Hemsworth and Hopkins still on board. Liu also said the film will have a budget of $70 million. "

"In previously released publicity material, Arabian Nights is described as “a visually stunning 3D retelling of the classic adventure tale about a bold, young commander who joins forces with Sinbad, Aladdin and his Genie to rescue Scheherazade and save her kingdom from the dark powers of an immortal sorcerer.”"

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Goethe - The Sufferings of Young Werther & the Magnetic Mountain

Magic the Gathering's Magnetic Mountain Card from its Arabian Nights set

Our hero Werther, of Goethe's great The Sufferings of Young Werther, has a Nights-esque moment, referencing the Magnet Mountain -

Book One - Entry July 26

"More than once I have made the resolve not to see her so often.  If one could only keep such a resolution!  Every day I succumb to temptation and made a sacred promise to myself:  tomorrow you will just stay away; and when tomorrow comes I find another irresistible reason for going, and before I realize it I'm with her.  Either she said the evening before:  'You will come tomorrow, won't you?' - who could stay away after that? - or she gives me an errand to do and I find it appropriate to bring her the answer myself, or the day is altogether too beautiful, so I walk to Wahlheim and when I have got that far, it's only another half hour to her!  I am too near her atmosphere - zoom, I'm there.  My grandmother used to tell a tale about the magnetic mountain. Ships that came too close to it suddenly lost all their iron; the nails flew to the mountain and the poor wretched crew perished amid the collapsing planks."

From page 29 of Harry Steinhauer's Norton translation (paperback 1970)

And from Arabian Nights Entertainments  - The History of the third Calendar, a King's Son (edition here -

Having spoke thus, he fell a crying like a man who foresaw unavoidable ruin; his despair put the whole ship’s crew in a terror.  I asked him what reason he had thus to despair?  He told me, the tempest, which we had out-liv’d, had brought us so far our of our course, that to-morrow about noon we shall come near to that black place, which is nothing else but the black mountain, that is a mine of adamant, which at this very moment draws all your fleet towards it, by virtue of your iron and nails that are in your ships; and when we come to-morrow at a certain distance, the strength of the adamant will have such a force, that all the nails will be drawn out of the sides and bottoms of the ships, and fasten to the mountain, so that your vessels will fall to pieces, and sink to the bottom.  And as the adamant has a virtue to draw all iron to it, whereby its attraction becomes stronger, this mountain on the side of the sea is all covered over with nails, drawn out of an infinite number of vessels that have perished by it; and this preserves and augments its virtue at the same time


From Burton's translation (The Third Kalandar's Tale) -

"O my Prince," answered he, "know that we lost our course on the night of the storm, which was followed on the morrow by a two days' calm during which we made no way, and we have gone astray eleven days' reckoning from that night, with ne'er a wind to bring us back to our true course. Tomorrow by the end of the day we shall come to a mountain of black stone hight the Magnet Mountain, for thither the currents carry us willy-nilly. As soon as we are under its lea, the ship's sides will open and every nail in plank will fly out and cleave fast to the mountain, for that Almighty Allah hath gifted the loadstone with a mysterious virtue and a love for iron, by reason whereof all which is iron traveleth toward it. And on this mountain is much iron, how much none knoweth save the Most High, from the many vessels which have been lost there since the days of yore. The bright spot upon its summit is a dome of yellow laton from Andalusia, vaulted upon ten columns. And on its crown is a horseman who rideth a horse of brass and holdeth in hand a lance of laton, and there hangeth on his bosom a tablet of lead graven with names and talismans." And he presently added, "And, O King, none destroyeth folk save the rider on that steed, nor will the egromancy be dispelled till he fall from his horse."

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sparks - Scheherazade

Here is the song "Scheherazade" by the US prog rock electronica jack of all trades band Sparks, from their 2000 album Balls, lyrics below -

Scheherazade, you enslave me
Others begged, crying "save me"
Wasted words, hatred tore me
Scheherazade, tell me stories
Ships at sea, all imagined

Bravery, all imagined
Bloodless blood, colorblindness
Scheherazade, who's behind this?
Scheherazade, there's a sameness
To the world in its plainness
But your worlds are on fire
Filled with lust
Filled with liars

Once upon a time
Very, very long ago
Once upon a time
Very, very far away
All I want are illusions
Scheherazade, no conclusions

Every night, entertain me
No repeats, entertain me
Ships at sea, all imagined
Bravery, all imagined
Bloodless blood, colour-blindness
Scheherazade, you're behind this

Scheherazade, Scheherazade, Scheherazade, Scheherazade
I won't kill you

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

S.T. Dupont - Limited Edition THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS (2011)

S.T. Dupont is a high end maker of pens and other collectible pricy things.

From wikipedia - 
"ST Dupont Paris is a brand name and manufacturer of lighters, collectible pens, handbags, perfumes, cigarette (made by Philip Morris International), and recently other gadgets using the trademark diamond-head pattern. The company has been producing luxury items since 1872 when founded by Simon Tissot Dupont. The founder of the brand, Simon Tissot-Dupont was born in Savoy in 1847. S.T. Dupont owes its initials to him."

In 2011 they released a 1001 Nights inspired set of a pen and lighter.

On ebay the lighters alone are currently selling for around $3000.

Perhaps you can buy one to light your fireworks tomorrow?

Here is the original product page:

And their copy: 

S.T.Dupont pays homage to the celebrated masterpiece of Eastern literature: the tales of the Thousand and One Nights.

Thousand and One Nights, thus perpetuating its tradition for excellence by offering a collection that benefits from its unique know-how to recreate this dreamlike and marvellous world.

The collection contains a Ligne 2 lighter, Néo-Classique fountain pen and roller, a pen holder with paper cutter as well as an ink bottle. Every item is numbered out of 1001pieces.

Pursuing this theme of luxury and sophistication, S.T.Dupont has created two “diamond” version of this collection with a lighter and a pen in solid white gold.
The lighter is set with 137 white diamonds of 1,841 carats, and the pen with 129 white diamonds of 1,841 carats.

These exclusive items are limited to 28 pieces each.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hanan Al-Shaykh - One Thousand and One Nights: A Retelling

I mentioned Al-Shaykh's UK version of this book in 2011, but apparently her collection of Nights stories has also been recently released in the USA, spurring the following reflection.

I've excerpted bits from an Atlantic review of her book below.  Read the whole thing at -

The review/article/musing on Al-Shaykh's work by author Joe Fassler alleges a humanist message discovered in the Nights beneath its violence.  Though what that humanism is remains unclear after reading the article.  Hanan Al-Shaykh's books are great though, and you should go read all of them.

Al-Shaykh has published, here in her Nights, 19 stories culled from three Arabic manuscripts that she found interesting, after reading all three manuscripts in their entirety, in Arabic.

Don't know if I agree with the following, actually I don't, but then again, anything goes with the Nights:

"Though the Arabian Nights features countless characters and voices, we must read each one as partially channeled by Shahrazad, her plea for reason and mercy. Through all these stories, she is working on him. Educating him. Maybe she is brainwashing him. These stories, in fact, slowly teach him to give up his lust for blood and his blanket condemnation of women.

Look closely: She chooses stories that mirror her predicament. All the characters are pleading for life, in a way. She does this intelligently, of course, camouflaging with little stories here and there on different topics. But the main line is you cease to be a human being if you steep yourself in brutality and killing. That adultery--like many human failings--happens for reasons we can sympathize with. And so one cannot be a tyrant. One must listen carefully to others, and be just. Every story is her asking for her life, asking for the killer to stop."


"We don't know much about their relationship--if she was attracted to him, if she was happy with him in bed, if she was merely a victim of his violence. But you can feel in the stories a gradual change. At the beginning they are very brutal and dark, but they show us that adultery usually happens for a reason and that jealousy and violence typically bring misery to all concerned. With time, though, they become more about social values, adventures, they were less dark than when she started, and concern higher questions. Who are we human beings? What do we do in life? What is our aim of living? How do we become better citizens? And the answer, so often, comes through telling important stories and listening closely to what others have learned."


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Life Ball 2013 - The 1001 Nights Vienna

Life Ball is an annual HIV/AIDS awareness benefit concert in Vienna, happening this week.  This year's theme is The 1001 Nights!

picture from - check out this website for more great Nights-inspired pictures

Here is the website for Life Ball 2013 -

And from it:

"Life Ball 2013 is dedicated to “1001 Nights”

“Saving lives with imagination”
is the link between Life Ball 2013 and its entertaining yet sensual source of inspiration: “1001 Nights”.

Everyone knows her, courageous Scheherezade, bravely fighting for her life during 1001 nights. Her adventurous and fairy-tale like stories attract the king’s curiosity night after night, and her inexhaustible fantasy eventually saves her life. Opulently designed, guests of Life Ball 2013 on 25 May 2013 will be immersed into a world of poetry and fairy tales, mythical creatures and djinns, desirous poems and wise allegories – using fantasy to help people infected with HIV or suffering from AIDS.

Using an old Arabic saying, Life Ball 2013 follows the motto: “It takes the night to see the stars”– for a future without HIV and AIDS. This vision, which can become true, was the common tenor at the World AIDS Conference 2012 in Washington D.C., where representatives of different international AIDS aid organizations agreed: “Together we can end AIDS”."

And here is Adam Lambert as an Ali Baba-esque performer (with 40 thieves dancers!) singing "Love Wins Over Glamour":

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Nancy Ajram - Alf Leyla We Layla

Here is pop superstar Nancy Ajram's version of Umm Kulthum's song Alf Layla wa Layla:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Stephen Arata - On E. W. Lane’s Edition of The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, 1838

 Edward William Lane

Here is a good historical overview of the Nights with a concentration on Edward William Lane's version, a version well known but relatively understudied.

Arata, Stephen. “On E. W. Lane’s Edition of The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, 1838.” BRANCH: Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History. Ed. Dino Franco Felluga. Extension of Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net. Web

"Lane had little use for, and even less patience with, Galland’s edition. Large stretches of his “Translator’s Preface” are devoted to enumerating his predecessor’s shortcomings as a translator and his consequent distortions of the source material. Lane’s slighting dismissal of “the version which has so long amused us” (vii) signals his desire to lift the tales out of the realm of mere entertainment, where they had so long resided. For Lane, “what is most valuable in the original work” is “its minute accuracy with respect to those peculiarities which distinguish the Arabs from every other nation, not only of the West, but also of the East” (viii). It had long been the most banal of commonplaces to claim that The Arabian Nights provided a “window on the East,” but this is not what Lane means. Virtually alone among readers, then or since, Lane believed that The Arabian Nights in its Bulaq version was the work of a single author who lived around 1500, most likely in Cairo. While many of the tales are “doubtless of an older origin,” they were all “remodelled, so as to become pictures of the state of manners which existed among the Arabs, and especially among those of Egypt,” in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries (xiii-xiv). Lane asserts not only that The Arabian Nights is, rather than a miscellany, instead the product of a single shaping intelligence, but that it therefore provides an accurate, detailed, and thoroughly consistent account of Cairene life. For Lane, The Arabian Nights is to be valued for the abundant and precise documentary evidence it gives of the manners and customs and material life of Egypt. Since, in Lane’s view, those manners and customs and that material life had remained more or less unchanged since at least the sixteenth century, The Arabian Nights was more than merely an historical record."

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Sufis - Idries Shah

A mention of the Nights in mystical form in the book The Sufis by Idries Shah (Anchor Books 1971) -

He begins his book with mentions of Sufi poetry as being secretive states of literary mysticism and says:

"In its most advanced form the secret language uses Semitic consonantal roots to conceal and reveal meanings; and Western scholars seem unaware that even the popular Thousand and One Nights is Sufic in content, and that its Arabic title Alf layla wa layla is a code phrase indicating its main content and intention:  'Mother of Records'" (x).

Idries Shah was a popular "mystical" new age writer who penned scores of books throughout the mid to end of the 20th century.  His son Tahir Shah recently published his own book In Arabian Nights.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Smash - A Thousand and One Nights

And so it continues....

Here is a musical number from the television show Smash ( called "A Thousand and One Nights" featuring all sorts of people (well mainly one sort of people) dressed and dancing as a sort of another sort of people (they think), in the tradition of a (pure or sullied, one can never ever tell) vision of the "Nights".

A Thousand And One Nights - Smash Katharine McPhee

Smash Season 1 Episode 15 Promo/Preview "Bombshell"

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sharaz-De: Tales from the Arabian Nights

Sharaz-De: Tales from the Arabian Nights is a book by Italian artist Sergio Toppo, who unfortunately passed away last year.  The visual artistry is easily worth the cost of the book, but he has also included wisely conceived elaborations of several key stories from the Nights.

The book was published in English only recently.

Publisher's website (also includes an extensive preview) -



Saturday, April 20, 2013

Sinbad's Restaurant SF

Sinbad's is an ancient restaurant in San Francisco with a great view.  They have the name and the character greeting you at its entrance.  I'm not sure what the story is with this life size mannequin or his costume and its relationship to any Sinbad film (actual costume? etc.) but I'm certainly curious.

We went just for a quick drink, the inside was a bit stale and it has seen better days overall, but the old place is definitely worth peeking into as you head to the nearby Ferry Building.

If anyone has info on their Sinbad do please post below.


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Aladdin the Musical heads to Broadway

Thanks to Paul for passing this along - The musical Aladdin recently had its debut in Toronto and is on its way to Broadway.

More from CBC News, Canada:

"Thomas Schumacher said in an interview that the final two-act Aladdin will build on the 1992 film blockbuster with new songs by Alan Menken, additional characters and, appropriately, some magic tricks.

"If I look around Broadway right now, what I want to see is big production numbers. I want to see lush environments. I want surprise," Schumacher said. "You want a lot of humour, which we will do. And you want heart."

Aladdin will be directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Casey Nicholaw, whose previous hits include The Book of Mormon and Canadian-born The Drowsy Chaperone. Bob Crowley, who has a Tony for Mary Poppins, will design the sets, and Chad Beguelin has written the story and some lyrics.

The musical will first be staged at Toronto's Ed Mirvish Theatre this November for nine weeks with an eye to bringing it to Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre in 2014. Mary Poppins, which is currently in the 1,797-seat New Amsterdam Theatre, ends its six-year run in March.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Al-Masudi - The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems

Al-Masudi (aka Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn Ali al-Mas'udi) was/is a well known geographer and historian who lived in Baghdad and Cairo in the late 800s to mid 900s AD.

His book, Muruj Al-Dhahab, known in English as The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems, is a historical account of the beginning of the world up through the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad.  You can read more about the book and its translations at this wikipedia page I created:

What is interesting about the book to me and Nights scholars is that it is one of the first books to mention the Nights at all, and dates the Nights to the 10th century, if not suggestively before then.  There are only four known mentions of the Nights apart from any versions of the collection pre-1400s-ish, Masudi's is one of them.

The mention, which is very brief, contains information that the Nights is an Arabic translation from a Persian story collection known as Hazar Afsaneh, that it is known in Arabic as The Thousand Nights and a Night, and that it is the story of a King, his Vizier, the daughter of the Vizier who is named "Shirazad", and her handmaiden/slave, a girl named "Dinazad".

All of which are important details for Nights scholars in many different ways.

Here is the rendering in Arabic from the French and Arabic version of Muruj (important to note because it is not an original manuscript, but was (and is in many ways) the primary source for the Masudi book in Europe and other non-Arabic speaking countries) called Prairies d'or, Arabic edition and French translation of Muruj al-dhahab by Barbier de Meynard and Pavet de Courteille, Paris 1861-77.  The following is from volume 4, pages 89-90 (available online through linked at the wikipedia page above) - 

وان سبيلها سبيل الكتب المنقولة الينا والمترجمة لنا من الفارسية والهندية والرومية سبيل تأليفها ما ذكرنا مثل كتاب هزار افسانه وتفسير ذلك من الفارسية الى العربية ألف خرافة والخرافة بالفارسية يقال لها افسانه والناس يسمون هذا الكتاب ألف ليلة وليلة وهو خبر الملك والوزير وابنته وجاريتها وهما شيرازاد ودينازاد ومثل كتاب فرزه وسيماس

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Harem Girls and Camel Races - Sarah McCormick Seekatz

Someone posted about this article on the blog, it's a very interesting history of the "Date" festival that takes place every year in Indio, California.

The author is also doing her PhD at UC Riverside in History on Orientalist motifs in Southern Californian culture - very cool!  I'm glad she is because the date festival, the date farms in places like Mecca, California, and the very interesting connections to the "Middle East" are all things near and dear to me and my research interests too.  Plus a regular trip to Indio is always a good thing, date festival or tamale festival or whatever.

In any event, the article is "Harem Girls and Camel Races:  Middle Eastern Fantasies in the Deserts of Southern California" by Sarah McCormick Seekatz, and it features a ton of great pictures, and you can read the whole thing here:

For more on the date festival and this blog, click the label marked "Date festival Indio" on the right side of the blog under labels.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

My Little Disney: Arabian Nights

Well, there's a lot of people who really really like My Little Pony - its cartoons, comics, and characters and they aren't all kids - here's a "bronie" (perhaps!) version of a mashup of My Little Pony clips and the opening song to Disney's Aladdin:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Disney Walk Lego Store Aladdin

Was meandering through Disney Walk, the outdoor mall near Disneyland - as we all must at some point - and came across this giant Lego version of Aladdin, the flying carpet, the lamp, Jasmine and the Genie in the Lego Store (a Lego homage to their nearby land-lords?):

From 1001 Nights
From 1001 Nights

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Keats - "Staffa"

Feeling a bit Romantic lately - posting has been very light recently, but soon to stop being such, it has been busy round these parts.

"Staffa" is a poem by John Keats about his visit to Fingal's Cave on Staffa, an island in Scotland.  Wordsworth wrote about it as well, though Keats did so with a touch of the Nights

Keats' poem, untitled, has been referred to as "Staffa" or by its first line "Not Aladdin Magian" and was first published after the poet's death:

NOT Aladdin magian
Ever such a work began;
Not the Wizard of the Dee
Ever such a dream could see;
Not St. John, in Patmos' Isle,
In the passion of his toil,
When he saw the churches seven,
Golden aisl'd, built up in heaven,
Gazed at such a rugged wonder.
As I stood its roofing under
Lo! I saw one sleeping there,
On the marble cold and bare.
While the surges washed his feet,
And his garments white did beat.
Drench'd about the sombre rocks;
On his neck his well-grown locks,
Lifted dry above the main,
Were upon the curl again.
"What is this? and what art thou?"
Whisper'd I, and touch'd his brow.
"What art thou? and what is this?"
Whisper'd I, and strove to kiss
The spirit's hand, to wake his eyes.
Up he started in a trice.
"I am Lycidas," said he,
"Fam'd in funeral minstrelsy.
This was architected thus
By the great Oceanus;
Here his mighty waters play
Hollow organs all the day;
Here by turns his dolphins all,
Finny palmers great and small,
Come to pay devotion due -
Each a mouth of pearls must strew.
Many a mortal of these days,
Dares to pass our sacred ways,
Dares to touch audaciously
This cathedral of the sea.
I have been the pontif-priest
Where the waters never rest,
Where a fledgy sea bird choir
Soars for ever; holy fire
I have hid from mortal man;
Proteus is my sacristan.
But the stupid eye of mortal
Hath pass'd beyond the rocky portal;
So for ever will I leave
Such a taint, and soon unweave
All the magic of the place.
'Tis now free to stupid face,
To cutters and to fashion boats,
To cravats and to petticoats.
The great sea shall war it down,
For its fame shall not be blown
At every farthing quadrille dance."
So saying, with a spirit's glance
He dived -

Friday, January 11, 2013

Byron's Copy of the Nights

George Gordon Byron (Lord Byron) (, English lyricist, political activist, scandalizer and witty satirist also owned a copy of the Nights and here is some info on it:

"(23) Arabian Nights, by Scott, 6 vol.  LARGEST PAPER, with an additional set of plates inserted, green morocco, 1811" (208).

info from - Sale Catalogues of Libraries of Eminent Persons, Vol. 6, edited by A. N. L. Munby.  London:  Mansell Information/Publishing Ltd; Sotheby Parke-Bernet Publications, Ltd, 1971.