“MUCH THE BEST VERSION IN ANY LANGUAGE” (T.E. LAWRENCE): MARDRUS’ EIGHT-VOLUME LARGE QUARTO FRENCH RENDITION OF THE ARABIAN NIGHTS
(ARABIAN NIGHTS) MARDRUS, J.C. Le Livre des Mille Nuits et Une Nuit. Traduction Littérale et Complète du Texte Arabe par le Dr. J.C. Mardrus. Paris: Fasquelle, circa 1920. Eight volumes. Large quarto, contemporary half green calf, elaborately gilt-decorated spines with red morocco onlays and spine labels, raised bands, patterned paper-covered boards, marbled endpapers, top edges gilt. $4000.
Lovely illustrated edition of Mardrus’ colorful French translation of the Arabian Nights, illustrated with 156 color reproductions of intricate illuminated miniatures from Persian and Hindu manuscripts, very handsomely bound.
The stories now known collectively as Alf Layla wa-Layla (One Thousand Nights and a Night)—the earliest manuscript of which dates from the 14th century—"have become part of the common heritage of Western and world literature" (Barron, 2-4). "Mardrus' translation caught the literary mood of the time… [His] version of the Arabian tales was a belated product of fin-de-siècle taste, a portrait of a fantasy Orient, compounded of opium reveries, jeweled dissipation, lost paradises, melancholy opulence and odalisques pining in gilded cages… T.E. Lawrence [described] the Mardrus version as 'Much the best version of the Nights in any language'" (Irwin, 36-9). Text in French. Mardrus' translation first appeared 1889-1904. See Clute & Grant, 51.
Spines uniformly toned, gilt bright. A beautifully bound and illustrated set in near-fine condition.