[FIRST OTTOMAN TRANSLATION OF THE ARABIAN NIGHTS] Tercüme-yi Elf Leyle ve Leyle [i.e., Translation of the One Thousand and One Nights]. 4 volumes set

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Matbaa-i Mekteb-i Sanayii, Istanbul, [1870-1872].

Contemporary quarter calf for each volume, marbled boards of the last volume, and five inhomogeneous raised bands to spine. Roy. 8vo. (23 x 16 cm). In Ottoman script (Old Turkish with Arabic letters). 4 volumes set: (392 p., 391 p., 367 p., 289 p.). Slight wear on the boards, a repaired spine of the second volume, a lack of recto of the third volume’s endpaper, occasional foxing on pages, several marginal notes by the ex-owner in pencil, bindings are not homogeneous, sealed recto of the title page by “Matbaa-i Mekteb-i Sanayii” proving that the book is not fake as a period practice. Overall, a very good complete set.

Early (second) and extremely rare Ottoman edition of this famous collection of Middle Eastern folktales compiled in the Arabic language during the Islamic Golden Age. This is the first complete Turkish translation from the original Arabic edition printed in 1835 in Bulak, by order of Sultan Abdulmecid (1823-1861). The stories are collected chronologically like in the original first Arabic edition, however, according to his preface, as the translator of this famous corpus, Nazif indicates that he censors some extremely obscene chapters.

Following the tradition of One Thousand and One Nights, the work consists of an introduction titled "Ibtidâ-yi Tercüme-yi Elf Leyle ve Leyle" within the frame story of the major character and the storyteller Scheherazade and Sasanian Sultan Shahriyar ruling India and China, and then Scheherazade from the first night to the thousand and first night, it continues with the stories told to Shahriar. All the couplets and proverbs in the translated text are in Arabic, and their Turkish meanings are given afterward by the translator. 

The famous translation of One Thousand and One Nights by Sahhaflar Seyhizâde Ahmed Nazif (?-1858), who served as a judge in Mecca, Jerusalem, and Damascus, was published twice, the first in 1850 and the second in 1870, and became popular among the public in the second half of the 19th century. He was also the son of the master (president) of the Ottoman Booksellers Guild.

The Arabian Nights was collected over many centuries by various authors, translators, and scholars across West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, and North Africa. Some tales trace their roots back to ancient and medieval Arabic, Sanskrit, Persian, and Mesopotamian literature. Most tales, however, were originally folk stories from the Abbasid and Mamluk eras, while others, especially the frame story, are probably drawn from the Pahlavi Persian work Hezâr Afsân which in turn may be translations of older Indian texts.

Common to all the editions of the Nights is the framing device of the story of the ruler Shahryar being narrated the tales by his wife Scheherazade, with one tale told over each night of storytelling. The stories proceed from this original tale; some are framed within other tales, while some are self-contained. Some editions contain only a few hundred nights of storytelling, while others include 1001 or more. The bulk of the text is in prose, although verse is occasionally used for songs and riddles and to express heightened emotion. Most of the poems are single couplets or quatrains, although some are longer.

Özege 20590., As of May 2024, OCLC shows twelve copies worldwide (66832497, 1114593259). Eight paper copies in North American libraries: McGill University Library, Harvard University, LoC, Concordia Theological Seminary, Virginia Tech, Concordia College Library, Dallas Theological Seminary, Hawaii Pacific University.