“MUCH THE BEST VERSION IN ANY LANGUAGE” (T.E. LAWRENCE): LIMITED EDITION OF MARDRUS’ 16-VOLUME 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: Charpentier et Fasquelle, 1912-1919. Sixteen volumes. Octavo, contemporary half brown morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spines, marbled boards and endpapers, top edges gilt. $3200.
Limited edition of Mardrus’ colorful French translation of the Arabian Nights, 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, Fantasy and Horror 2-4). Antoine Galland produced the first European translation of the Nights in the early 18th century, in French. His rendition “retained a strong hold on the affections of his countrymen, and it was not until the eve of the 20th century that a retranslation into French was attempted… Mardrus’ translation (which was really more of a loose adaptation) 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). Comprises volumes from several identical limited editions, each limited to 75 sets printed on Holland paper and 25 sets printed on Japanese paper, released by the publisher between 1912 and 1919; this set is printed on Holland paper. Text in French. See Clute & Grant, 51.
A beautiful set in fine condition.