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The Arabian nights

The Arabian Nights Entertainments,
1
The Arabian Nights Entertainments,
Selected and Edited by Andrew Lang
after the edition of Longmans, Green and Co, 1918 (1898)
Preface
The stories in the Fairy Books have generally been such as old women in country places tell to their
grandchildren. Nobody knows how old they are, or who told them first. The children of Ham, Shem and
Japhet may have listened to them in the Ark, on wet days. Hector's little boy may have heard them in Troy
Town, for it is certain that Homer knew them, and that some of them were written down in Egypt about the
time of Moses.
People in different countries tell them differently, but they are always the same stories, really, whether among
little Zulus, at the Cape, or little Eskimo, near the North Pole. The changes are only in matters of manners and
customs; such as wearing clothes or not, meeting lions who talk in the warm countries, or talking bears in the
cold countries. There are plenty of kings and queens in the fairy tales, just because long ago there were plenty
of kings in the country. A gentleman who would be a squire now was a kind of king in Scotland in very old
times, and the same in other places. These old stories, never forgotten, were taken down in writing in different
ages, but mostly in this century, in all sorts of languages. These ancient stories are the contents of the Fairy
books.
Now "The Arabian Nights," some of which, but not nearly all, are given in this volume, are only fairy tales of
the East. The people of Asia, Arabia, and Persia told them in their own way, not for children, but for
grown-up people. There were no novels then, nor any printed books, of course; but there were people whose
profession it was to amuse men and women by telling tales. They dressed the fairy stories up, and made the
 
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