“STORIES OF FOLK GONE BEFORE AND ADMONITORY INSTANCES OF THE MEN OF YORE”: ILLUSTRATED EDITION OF BURTON’S ARABIAN NIGHTS WITH 71 RICH PLATES, VERY HANDSOMELY BOUND, HOUSED IN THE ORIGINAL WOOD-GILT HINGED BOX
BURTON, Richard F. The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night. London: H.S. Nichols, 1897. Twelve volumes. Royal octavo, publisher's three-quarter burgundy morocco gilt, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, raised bands, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt, uncut and partly unopened. Housed in the original wooden box with brass hinges and spring lock and Arabic title in gilt on lid.
Illustrated “Library Edition” of Sir Richard Francis Burton’s lively (and often daring) translation of The Arabian Nights—the enduring, irresistible folk tales of Aladdin, Ali Baba and many more heroes and heroines of adventure, romance, mystery and magic—with 71 lush and lovely plates after the iconic paintings of Albert Letchford, handsomely bound in morocco-gilt using Arabic designs. This among the earliest complete editions of Burton’s famed translation. Housed in the original wooden box with hinged lid, upon which the title in Arabic is gilt-stamped: Alf Laylah wa Laylah, “Thousand Nights and a Night.”
The Alf Layla wa-Layla ("One Thousand Nights and a Night") have enchanted readers for centuries with shimmering visions of "a land of fable environment whose deserts and oases, bazaars and slums, jeweled caverns and minaret-topped edifices are immediately recognizable" (Clute & Grant, 51). Esteemed explorer and scholar Burton translated and annotated the Arabian Nights, intending to create "a legacy to his countrymen, of whose imperial mission he was ever mindful, and to perpetuate the fruit of his own oriental experiences" (DNB). The Nichols editions—one in 1894, not illustrated, and this 1897 edition with Letchford's plates—were the first complete editions of Burton's translation after the rare, 16-volume first edition of 1885. These complete editions were preceded only by an expurgated edition issued by Burton's wife shortly after his death. Each volume with half title. With facsimiles of the 1885 edition's title pages bound in. See Penzer, 113, 117-123.
A beautiful set in fine condition, most desirable in its original wooden box.