Arabian Nights and Days
A renowned Nobel Prize-winning novelist refashions the classic tales of Scheherazade in his own imaginative, spellbinding style. Here are genies and flying carpets, Aladdin and Sinbad, Ali Baba, and many other familiar stories, made new by the magical pen of the acknowledged dean of Arabic letters.

Arabian Nights and Days Details

TitleArabian Nights and Days
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 29th, 1995
PublisherAnchor
ISBN-139780385469012
Rating
GenreFiction, Fantasy, Literature, Novels

Arabian Nights and Days Review

  • Francisco
    January 1, 1970
    I decided a month or so ago to read some books by Arab authors. I was hoping to find the longing and the loneliness, the need for love and for useful work that we all share as human beings. I hoped that I would find in Arab authors kindred souls to help me bridge the sense of separation that I felt with my Muslim brothers and sisters. I'm so glad I undertook this personal journey. I found such beautiful writing, yes, but also a willingness and ease in dealing with matters of the spirit that all I decided a month or so ago to read some books by Arab authors. I was hoping to find the longing and the loneliness, the need for love and for useful work that we all share as human beings. I hoped that I would find in Arab authors kindred souls to help me bridge the sense of separation that I felt with my Muslim brothers and sisters. I'm so glad I undertook this personal journey. I found such beautiful writing, yes, but also a willingness and ease in dealing with matters of the spirit that all but a few Western writers are brave enough to explore in their books. Naguib Mahfouz. I am blessed to find you.
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  • Bettie
    January 1, 1970
    (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]And so on to Wandaful...
  • VJ
    January 1, 1970
    Based loosely on the Arabian Nights, this novel begins with a description of the sultan Shariyar as a bloodthirsty despot who is contemplating doing away with his wife, Sharzhad, should she fail to continue entertaining him with stories. We are then treated to several stories of people related to both Shariyar and Sharzhad either by blood or politics, which can be one and the same thing in this context. Excellent character studies and a continued emphasis on political and moral corruption, with Based loosely on the Arabian Nights, this novel begins with a description of the sultan Shariyar as a bloodthirsty despot who is contemplating doing away with his wife, Sharzhad, should she fail to continue entertaining him with stories. We are then treated to several stories of people related to both Shariyar and Sharzhad either by blood or politics, which can be one and the same thing in this context. Excellent character studies and a continued emphasis on political and moral corruption, with the added twist of the interventions of godlessness and evil in the lives of the people. Another most excellent read.
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  • Scotty
    January 1, 1970
    Under extraordinary circumstances, how will humans react?The book starts off with the worst of the worst, then proceeds to run the gamut of good and bad. I loved this book. Morality under a microscope with a flair for the fantastic. And it's not done in a heavy-handed manner! You don't get beaten over the head with the message, the author assumes you're clever enough to pick it up on your own. Funny, I just saw it on the shelf at the library, thought, "Hmm...this looks pretty thin," so I picked Under extraordinary circumstances, how will humans react?The book starts off with the worst of the worst, then proceeds to run the gamut of good and bad. I loved this book. Morality under a microscope with a flair for the fantastic. And it's not done in a heavy-handed manner! You don't get beaten over the head with the message, the author assumes you're clever enough to pick it up on your own. Funny, I just saw it on the shelf at the library, thought, "Hmm...this looks pretty thin," so I picked it up. Lo and behold, it's better than most books twice its size.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    This is an interesting book with a lot of symbolism. The problem is that I am very character driven and this book (like other Mahfouz books I have read) goes through many characters quickly and never lets me feel a bond with any of them. I can imagine others enjoying this book, but it is just not for me.
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  • Kara
    January 1, 1970
    The book starts at the end of Arabian Nights with the sultan announcing to the Vizier that he has decided not to kill Shaharazad after all, much to her father’s relief.Then, the tales she has just finished telling play out in the city in a magical realism style that left me feeling something had been lost in translation. Was this a commentary on 20th century events? Some deep philosophical pondering on human nature? I couldn’t tell.Meanwhile, Shaharazad worries her husband’s reprieve will turn o The book starts at the end of Arabian Nights with the sultan announcing to the Vizier that he has decided not to kill Shaharazad after all, much to her father’s relief.Then, the tales she has just finished telling play out in the city in a magical realism style that left me feeling something had been lost in translation. Was this a commentary on 20th century events? Some deep philosophical pondering on human nature? I couldn’t tell.Meanwhile, Shaharazad worries her husband’s reprieve will turn out in the end to be temporary. After all, how can you EVER trust someone with so much blood on his hands? Every now and then the book starts to get into Shaharazad’s backstory, or get into what post-tales life is like, but stops to get into yet another tale where yet another character is beheaded. If the book had been all about Shaharazad it would have been a good addition to the retellings of 1001 Nights – as it is, I didn’t really care about any of the characters and at the end was convinced I had missed something. The text may have been translated, but I think the subtext was left behind in the original edition.
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  • Evey
    January 1, 1970
    Beneath the surface, in the depths of consciousness, lie the shadows that poison and ruin, their maws salivating at the prospect of devouring from within and without. In Arabian Nights and Days, the shadows manifest through the jinn, their draw and provocation the catalyst that breed the inhuman condition. This is portrayed in Qumqam, Zarmabaha, and the owner of the Invisibility Cap, mystical beings that corrupt and influence the imperfect souls of Sanaan al-Gamali, the reputable men of the city Beneath the surface, in the depths of consciousness, lie the shadows that poison and ruin, their maws salivating at the prospect of devouring from within and without. In Arabian Nights and Days, the shadows manifest through the jinn, their draw and provocation the catalyst that breed the inhuman condition. This is portrayed in Qumqam, Zarmabaha, and the owner of the Invisibility Cap, mystical beings that corrupt and influence the imperfect souls of Sanaan al-Gamali, the reputable men of the city, and Fadil Sanaan. These manifestations pull out the basest emotions of the heart and soul, despair, lust, and the promise of power the gateway to chaos and atrocities. Once enslaved to the shadows, their salvation come at a heavy price. Perhaps, it is in the realization that the soul has these shadows within that civilizations can rise above inhumanity. If only God is perfection, surely humans can aspire. That is what separates humankind form animals and monsters. In embracing human fallibility, the oceans within will be pacified and its shadows brought into light.
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  • Christine
    January 1, 1970
    The thing about 1001 Nights is the ending, where Sherzhade gets to keep her head. Would you really like to be married to a man who kept beheading wives on the first day of the honeymoon? Mahfouz seems to be playing with this idea and some others in this quasi sequel to Arabian Nights. In part, he explores why a sultan can do something and an everyman cannot. He deals with the question of faith and how stories and telling change our view of that. This novel is more like a series of inter-connect The thing about 1001 Nights is the ending, where Sherzhade gets to keep her head. Would you really like to be married to a man who kept beheading wives on the first day of the honeymoon? Mahfouz seems to be playing with this idea and some others in this quasi sequel to Arabian Nights. In part, he explores why a sultan can do something and an everyman cannot. He deals with the question of faith and how stories and telling change our view of that. This novel is more like a series of inter-connected short stories where characters and character types from the Nights play out. The stories are more locally focused and a little less adventuress than some of the tales in the Nights, but it is a deep and quiet book.
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  • Hadi Muss
    January 1, 1970
    This is my first Naguib Mahfouz book I read and after reading a few of books written by Middle Eastern writers I personally don't fancy them but this one, is absolutely amazing.First few chapters moves slow and I almost give up but then when the stories uncover itself; it's beyond magic and I am glad that I don't stop reading it. This book follow a few character who we get to know one by one but the as the reading process go they grow together with their own individual story but yet intertwined This is my first Naguib Mahfouz book I read and after reading a few of books written by Middle Eastern writers I personally don't fancy them but this one, is absolutely amazing.First few chapters moves slow and I almost give up but then when the stories uncover itself; it's beyond magic and I am glad that I don't stop reading it. This book follow a few character who we get to know one by one but the as the reading process go they grow together with their own individual story but yet intertwined from one to another.I recomend this book to be read without any expectation. To me it is a perfection from linguistically to story-building wise.
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  • Eyüp Tayşir
    January 1, 1970
    "The corruption of scholars is through heedlessness, and the corruption of princes is through injustice, and the corruption of the Sufis is through hypocrisy.""A prince without learning, a scholar without virtue, a Sufi without trust in God, and the corruption of the world lies in their corruption."
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  • Alaa Ibrahem
    January 1, 1970
    This was one of the best bed time companions
  • Erika
    January 1, 1970
    Elegantly written, this is a complex mesh of intertwined stories and views on a city plagued by corruption.
  • Derz
    January 1, 1970
    Review also found on Book HangoverIn Arabian Nights and Days, Mahfouz entwines both social and individual morality. This novel really made me think and question how I view people, society, and morality. If these characters abandoned their beliefs effortlessly in these exceptional circumstances, then one has to wonder: did they ever really have any morals? Were they ever inherently good or were they only good because they had to be? This book was published in 1979 and is still insanely relevant a Review also found on Book HangoverIn Arabian Nights and Days, Mahfouz entwines both social and individual morality. This novel really made me think and question how I view people, society, and morality. If these characters abandoned their beliefs effortlessly in these exceptional circumstances, then one has to wonder: did they ever really have any morals? Were they ever inherently good or were they only good because they had to be? This book was published in 1979 and is still insanely relevant and will continue to be as long as humans remain… well, human.Mahfouz utilizes genies to explore and analyze humanity’s willingness to abandon their morality and conversely the deep-rooted good people who do the exact opposite. I couldn’t help but repeatedly think about The Walking Dead while reading this. Although both seem very different at first glance, the concept of morality is examined in both narrations. When the zombies attack, everyone and everything goes to shit. Once viewed as noble individuals suddenly became trigger-happy rapists and selfish, thieving, liars.Throughout Arabian Nights and Days, Mahfouz reminds us that simply because someone presents an appearance of being moral it does not necessarily mean they are. Morality is found etched in a person’s very being; it cannot be altered, regardless of the situation. It should not matter what may happen to that individual, they will keep those beliefs and principles. This is important to view in society today where there are numerous wolves in sheep’s clothing and many cowards disguised as heroes, whether it is in politics, work, or even within our own families. Mahfouz allows the reader to ponder these moral issues from the safe distance of an observer. Towards the beginning of the novel, Umm Saad tells Sanaan al-Gamali, “Under the skin of certain humans lie savage beasts.” This sentence sums up the entire novel. When an individual is put into a dire situation, one can truly view what makes up the person. Arabian Nights and Days leaves the reader wondering if they, themselves, are in fact savage beasts.
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  • Tim Hicks
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating. We're in the society where Shahrzad (Scheherazade to Westerners) has just finished 1001 nights of storytelling. The sultan executes a few people every day, but most people just muddle on. Until one of the jinn interferes, usually by putting opportunity in someone's way. The result of the opportunity is usually profit for someone, death for someone else, and often execution for several of those involved. But there's a gentle humour to it, and a philosophical/religious flow as people Fascinating. We're in the society where Shahrzad (Scheherazade to Westerners) has just finished 1001 nights of storytelling. The sultan executes a few people every day, but most people just muddle on. Until one of the jinn interferes, usually by putting opportunity in someone's way. The result of the opportunity is usually profit for someone, death for someone else, and often execution for several of those involved. But there's a gentle humour to it, and a philosophical/religious flow as people decide what to do with these opportunities - although some of them don't have many options. And the resolution of the sultan's rule ties it all together rather neatly. I did wonder why no one ever noticed that the life expectancy of the chief of police in this town is somewhere short of a week. Seems as if people would avoid the job.
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  • A-ron
    January 1, 1970
    Another of my favorite writers. Mahfouz is a master story teller. He is a prolific writer, stylistically diverse, and I believe innovative. Nights and Days was the first of his novels that I read.It is set in a mystical and magical Arabia, and thus somewhat allegorical. The novel begins on the day after Sharzad finishes telling her tales (The Arabian Nights) to the Sultan, and wanders from the palace to the quarters of the city. Each chapter reveals another story of those that live in the city. Another of my favorite writers. Mahfouz is a master story teller. He is a prolific writer, stylistically diverse, and I believe innovative. Nights and Days was the first of his novels that I read.It is set in a mystical and magical Arabia, and thus somewhat allegorical. The novel begins on the day after Sharzad finishes telling her tales (The Arabian Nights) to the Sultan, and wanders from the palace to the quarters of the city. Each chapter reveals another story of those that live in the city. Although each chapter can be enjoyed on its own, they interweave to form a larger story as well.You will encounter as expected djinn, magic caps, and madmen, but Mahfouz subtly reinterprets these story elements to, I suspect, relate them to the politics and culture of his modern Egypt.
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  • Renée
    January 1, 1970
    I read this about 15 years ago and decided to reread it. Loved it even more than the first time.Justice, life, death & love are explored in ways that can challenge those steeped only in Western concepts.If you read the original 1001 Nights and have a minimal understanding of Sufi teachings (or even Buddhism or other Eastern religions), you'll appreciate the deeper psychological/spiritual levels of being that Mahfouz explores.The stories remind me of a stream of consciousness, where enlighten I read this about 15 years ago and decided to reread it. Loved it even more than the first time.Justice, life, death & love are explored in ways that can challenge those steeped only in Western concepts.If you read the original 1001 Nights and have a minimal understanding of Sufi teachings (or even Buddhism or other Eastern religions), you'll appreciate the deeper psychological/spiritual levels of being that Mahfouz explores.The stories remind me of a stream of consciousness, where enlightenment results in either life or death. And death is by no means a permanent state. The two are fused, with no difference at times.Mahfouz takes you on a magical journey, traveling to inner and outer spaces. Are you ready for a ride on his wonderful flying carpet?
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  • Logan
    January 1, 1970
    Reading Nobel Prize Laureate Naguib Mahfouz's companion to 1001 Arabian Nights was both challenging and insightful. It really brought to my awareness how (despite being fairly knowledgable about the Middle East) there is quite a bit of cultural context required to fully understand the depth of meaning in his work. (It also would have helped to have read 1001 Arabian Nights). That being said, I very much enjoyed this work. The style was challenging, and there were definite political undertones. T Reading Nobel Prize Laureate Naguib Mahfouz's companion to 1001 Arabian Nights was both challenging and insightful. It really brought to my awareness how (despite being fairly knowledgable about the Middle East) there is quite a bit of cultural context required to fully understand the depth of meaning in his work. (It also would have helped to have read 1001 Arabian Nights). That being said, I very much enjoyed this work. The style was challenging, and there were definite political undertones. The more I read, the more I understood the style, and the better understanding I got out of the book. Definitely not something to just pick up, but if you've got time to devote to really reading a novel, this is a short (and lovely) one to choose.
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  • Adrian
    January 1, 1970
    What I like best about this modernized retelling of the classical Tales of Arabian Nights is the subtle injection of Sufism added by Mahfouz. I have already listed The Conference of the Birds in my list of favorite books, but that if not something that can necessarily be understood at first by the uninitiated in Sufism. I would recommend starting with this and doing a little background reading on the principles of Sufism. But even if you have no interest in the as a pre-requisite, or in followin What I like best about this modernized retelling of the classical Tales of Arabian Nights is the subtle injection of Sufism added by Mahfouz. I have already listed The Conference of the Birds in my list of favorite books, but that if not something that can necessarily be understood at first by the uninitiated in Sufism. I would recommend starting with this and doing a little background reading on the principles of Sufism. But even if you have no interest in the as a pre-requisite, or in following up with a more formal Sufi work, this is a beautifully written work that can be easily enjoyed by anyone. Mahfouz's Nobel Prize was well deserved, as is evident by this work.
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    I thought this would be right up my street, but I was slightly disappointed - I think my expectations had been set too high. It took a while to get into, partly due to the incredibly short chapters that cut into the flow and the then long Arabic names that kept tripping me up.Is it me or were at least half the characters beheaded or mad by the end of the book?
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  • Thenicole
    January 1, 1970
    Thankless task, to try to write a review of Mahfouz. Simply put, he's a master of Islamic writing, a master of personality, of human folly, and even in translation he puts most of us to shame. Whereas you'd expect something kind of sweet, this bitter book is utterly human; which is to say, it is about cruelty and pettiness and the lives of those who live to closely together. Flawless.
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  • Nada Sobhi
    January 1, 1970
    I absolutely HATED this book! It was the second book by Naguib Mahfouz for me, and so far the last, I have not gotten over it to venture with something else!I don't remember how many tales there were.. but they were all sad and left the reader, me, miserable and depressed!
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  • Wanda
    January 1, 1970
    7 MAY 2014 -- a gift from Dear Bettie. Received today. And, yet another cover. Thank you very much, Miss Bettie.
  • Mia
    January 1, 1970
    A fine retelling of the tales of the Arabian Nights, with a darker more sardonic interpretation, that possibly have political meanings for those more familiar with contemporary Egyptian history.
  • Shelina S Z
    January 1, 1970
    Quite different from his Cairo trilogy. This was very clever and upended the Traditional Arabian nights. The book itself is so beautiful it added to the pleasure of reading it.
  • Mikela
    January 1, 1970
    The writing was beautiful...the tales less so.
  • Amr Rashad
    January 1, 1970
    Another masterpiece by Naguib Mahfouz,mixture of fantasy, and Egyptian melodrama, short stories combined to make a complete, connected novel. I wish to see a movie out of this book.
  • Jonathan Martinez
    January 1, 1970
    This book for me was honestly confusing. Most of which comes from the simple fact that I didn't read the original book. There were references and talks of several characters who I knew none about. That being said, this book is extremely entertaining and provides an engaging story with action always occurring. Add to the fact that there are spirits of good and evil in a Middle Eastern setting with excellent characters and this story becomes an extremely interesting one. I do encourage that if you This book for me was honestly confusing. Most of which comes from the simple fact that I didn't read the original book. There were references and talks of several characters who I knew none about. That being said, this book is extremely entertaining and provides an engaging story with action always occurring. Add to the fact that there are spirits of good and evil in a Middle Eastern setting with excellent characters and this story becomes an extremely interesting one. I do encourage that if you decide to read this book, PLEASE read Arabian Nights which is the first book of this small series.
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  • Konstantin
    January 1, 1970
    [rating = A]One of my: Best Books of the Year (for 2018)Previously, I had tried to read this book twice, but could not get past the first pages. Then! for some reason, I started it again and it just took off. What a wonderful little book about the workings of man. Although I dislike the overtly religious tone and nature of the stories (almost like parables really), I found the action exciting and intriguing, very different from Western storytelling. The novel follows various people in The Quarte [rating = A]One of my: Best Books of the Year (for 2018)Previously, I had tried to read this book twice, but could not get past the first pages. Then! for some reason, I started it again and it just took off. What a wonderful little book about the workings of man. Although I dislike the overtly religious tone and nature of the stories (almost like parables really), I found the action exciting and intriguing, very different from Western storytelling. The novel follows various people in The Quarter of some Arabian city where Sultan Shahriyar, a bloody-thirsty man, had been changed by the stories of a virgin, Shahrzad (her father is and royal vizier, Dandan). Now the names, and there are a lot of them, can be confusing, but the translator (or perhaps the author) puts, cobbler, waiter, chief-of-police, next to the name as a helpful indicator. I loved how the story flowed, very natural and organic, allowing the reader to believe in the tale. Though it would be foolish to call this Realism, it is more of a magic-realism with genies and black magic. One main theme throughout the novel was that 'whatever I do it is through the will of God' which I found stupid, because they were just using God's name as an excuse for their lives. I am not sure, however, that the author was criticizing this, but it seemed that he trying to illustrate that 'truth' is never forced, it is there; it cannot be found on a certain path, but must be lived with. Another disappointment was how little woman characters played a role in the tale, but perhaps that is reflective of the times and culture. All the same, I enjoyed this fun, funny, smart novel.
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  • Saga
    January 1, 1970
    This is such a delight to read. I these a thousand and one night-esque stories to be very enjoyable, although I have not read the original work that inspired them, so I might have missed out on some important references here.Anyway, I liked the setting, you really got a feel of the town through reoccurring characters and places. Still, there is a time- and placelessness to this book that I also enjoyed. The setting is historical and islamic – that is pretty much all we know. These stories are be This is such a delight to read. I these a thousand and one night-esque stories to be very enjoyable, although I have not read the original work that inspired them, so I might have missed out on some important references here.Anyway, I liked the setting, you really got a feel of the town through reoccurring characters and places. Still, there is a time- and placelessness to this book that I also enjoyed. The setting is historical and islamic – that is pretty much all we know. These stories are beautifully intertwined and most of them I enjoyed, especially the weirdest ones. You've got a spirit turning into a deadly seductive woman who lures prominent men, including the sultan, into having intercourse with her and then locks them naked into cupboards. You have this poor man pretending to be the sultan, creating a made-up kingdom on an island outside the city. You have a man witnessing his own beheading. And so on. It's great. It explores interesting themes: good and evil, right and wrong, religion and morals and the self versus collectivity. It is by no means a masterpiece, and some stories I found less interesting than others. Also, his writing is sometimes absolutely stunning, and sometimes gets distant and pretentious. But still, it is well worth a read. I am exited to try more of Mahfouz' work!
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  • Jason
    January 1, 1970
    "Arabian Nights and Days" asks an obvious question. What happens after Shahrazad's stories work?Does everyone immediately forgive the Sultan's murders? Are the crimes forgotten?What kind of nation is run by a man who kills on a whim? What kind of city is ruled by a man who is soothed by stories?But "Arabian Nights" spends most of its time outside the palace. It links the stories of characters who could come from Shahrazad: a sweetmeat seller gifted with an invisible cap; a water-carrier who bluf "Arabian Nights and Days" asks an obvious question. What happens after Shahrazad's stories work?Does everyone immediately forgive the Sultan's murders? Are the crimes forgotten?What kind of nation is run by a man who kills on a whim? What kind of city is ruled by a man who is soothed by stories?But "Arabian Nights" spends most of its time outside the palace. It links the stories of characters who could come from Shahrazad: a sweetmeat seller gifted with an invisible cap; a water-carrier who bluffs that he found Solomon's ring; a corrupt policeman granted a second life to make amends; two lovers connected by dreams and separated by everything else.Their stories are well-written, entertaining, and insightful on topics as divisive as politics and religion.
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