A cornerstone of world literature and a monument to the power of storytelling, the Arabian Nights has inspired countless authors, from Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe to Naguib Mahfouz, Clarice Lispector, and Angela Carter. Now, in this lavishly designed and illustrated edition of The Annotated Arabian Nights the acclaimed literary historian Paulo Lemos Horta and brilliant poet and translator Yasmine Seale present a new selection of tales from the Nights, featuring treasured original stories as well as later additions including “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” and “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” definitively bringing the Nights into the twenty-first century.
Although readers have long been enchanted by the legendary tales, the English-speaking world has relied on dated translations by Richard Burton, Edward Lane, and other nineteenth-century adventurers. Seale’s distinctly contemporary and lyrical translations – working from both Arabic and French sources – break decisively with this masculine dynasty, stripping away the deliberate exoticism of Orientalist renderings and bringing an urgency to Shahrazad’s voice.
Yasmine Seale is a British-Syrian writer and literary translator. Her essays, poetry, visual art, and translations from Arabic and French have appeared widely — in Harper’s, the Paris Review, the Times Literary Supplement, Apollo and elsewhere. Her first translated book, Aladdin, came out from W. W. Norton in 2018. Seale’s work has received a PEN America Literary Grant and the Wasafiri New Writing Prize for Poetry.
*The discussion will be available both online and in person. While the conversation will happen in person (Seale will appear in the Reading Room), the Library will stream the conversation on Zoom for a live viewing experience. Both in-person and online attendees will be able to pose questions.
Registration required. Free and open to the public.