The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

Editor’s Note to this Web Edition

Burton’s The Book of The Thousand Nights and a Night was originally privately published by The Kama Shastra Society, in ten volumes, in 1885. (A further six volumes were subsequently published as a Supplement to the Nights.)

This web edition has used the online plain-text transcription from Project Gutenberg <> — in which most volumes are noted as "Privately Published by the Burton Society". Edition details are otherwise sketchy. Unfortunately, the Project Gutenberg transcription contains many errors (either from typing or OCR conversion). Many of these errors have been corrected here, but some undoubtedly remain. The Editor will be pleased to receive any notifications of errors found.

In creating this web edition, some organisational changes have been made from the original. Most obviously, the division into ten volumes has gone, and this edition is published as a single piece. The original division into volumes was deemed of no relevance to the text, especially in as much as tales were split between volumes. The dedications in each of the original volumes have been retained, and collected together at the beginning of the edition.

The second obvious change is to footnotes, which occur at the foot of each page in the original. The transcribers of the Project Gutenberg version had collected all footnotes together at the end of each volume. In this web edition, I have relocated footnotes to the end of each section of text, placing them as near as practical to the reference point without overly interrupting the flow.

Thirdly, I have grouped the text into sections, in two ways: first by starting a new section at the start of each tale; second by starting a new section at the start of each new night. The whole collection of tales is then arbitrarily split into parts, so that each part is no more than 100,000 bytes long — this purely for the convenience of readers, who may find larger pieces to be too big a bite at one time.

In all other respects, the arrangement of the original is unaffected.

A facsimile edition is available from the Internet Archive:

The book of the thousand nights and a night; a plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, with introd., explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of the nights / Reprinted from the original ed. and edited by Leonard G. Smithers 1897 v.1; v.2; v.3; v.4; v.5; v.6; v.7; v.8; v.9; v.10; v.11; v.12

S.G.A. Thomas,
March 2006.

Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:48