Hello everyone! I hope you’re all having a good day! Today I am going to be reviewing the book “Arabian Nights” by Sir Richard Burton. The book I read is written in Victorian English and is 716 pages long. I don’t normally go for books with short stories but the reason why I read this is… I wanted to read the original version of the book I read when I was eight. Reading this really changed my outlook.

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Book name: Arabian Nights

Author: Sir Richard Burton

Genre: Fairy Tale, Fiction. 

Rating: 3/5


The Arabian Nights, also known as The Thousand and One Nights is a collection of fables, fairy tales, romances, and historical stories, originating from various ethnic sources, including India, Persia, and Arabia. The mainframe concerns a Persian king and his new bride, Scheherazade (My I had trouble spelling that out!). The Persian king, Shahryar, is shocked to discover that his brother’s wife is unfaithful and is shocked to discover his own wife to be even more blatant. In his bitterness and grief, he decided that all women are the same and should be punished. He begins to marry a succession of virgins, only to execute each one, before she has a chance to hurt him. Eventually, it is Scheherazade’s turn. On the night before her execution, she begins to tell the king a tale but does not end it. The king, curious about the conclusion, postpones her execution to the next day. The next night, she ends the tale and begins a new one. But only begins it. The king, eager to hear the conclusion, postpones her execution once more. So it goes on for A Thousand and One Nights. (It is unclear as to whether he executes her or not in my edition of the book). 

I usually do not give books such a low rating. Although this book was interesting to read and the stories were very capturing, there was something very shameful. Women treated like they were dirt. Even the women of high standards are considered a thing of pleasure and worthless. A doll, if I may say. They have no other job other than looking after the house and look pretty. I may be biased because I am a feminist. Actually, I am sure I am biased.

I heard about Arabian Nights as a child, but the stories that I read had women who were fighters. even princesses were brave and could do whatever the hell they wanted to. I was under the impression that all the things in the world nowadays, did not exist back then. ( Mind you I was like eight then!) But now, after knowing the truth and having read this book, not at all!

In my life, I have seen various examples of women being treated unequally. I have seen men say that women are weaker, women cannot work after marriage, women cannot go out in the evenings and they cannot do a hundred different things that men can. I live in India. In typical Hindu families, there is a rule that women must always cover her face with her saree when she is in front of her in-laws. Here most women are not allowed to wear western clothes, i.e., t-shirt and jeans. I am not disrespecting any religion, but what is the reason for which women are considered to be so weak and fragile?

Don’t get me wrong. The stories are really capturing and fascinating. But the fact that fathers could sell off their daughters, suitors could buy them, women being nothing but a toy, women having to sell themselves for money, is just too much.

Don’t let my views cloud yours! I’ll give you two reasons to read it: 1. the stories are good and most have a strong moral.

2. It’ll give you a really good description of how women were treated. (especially in countries like India, Persia, and Arabia) I would really recommend this to people my age who need to discover how women were treated and may not want to read lengthy textbooks.

Thank you for reading! Let me know in the comments your thoughts on this book, whether you have read it, or would you like to read it?

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9 thoughts on “Arabian Nights||Sir Richard Burton||Book Review||thebookofjess

  1. Thanks for the thoughtful review. One thing I have to remind myself of when reading these old books and stories is that their morals are going to be different than ours. Women weren’t the only ones treated badly in the old Arabian Night stories. Does it suck that they were treated badly? Absolutely! But most ideas in old literature, regardless of country and culture, are going to be dated compared to modern society’s ideas. Of course, we should still recognize such viewpoints as dated and feel free to discuss them. That said, can still enjoy the stories as well. I frankly love the Arabian Nights. I wonder, how much of our modern ideas and viewpoints that are reflected in today’s literature are going to be dated fifty years from now? I wonder if we will look barbaric and primitive as a society by future generations?

    On a side note, ironically enough, while dated in some ways, the Arabian Nights were advanced in others. I don’t know which version you read, but you may have noticed they were very erotic, at least the original tales were if those were the ones you read. While I’m not huge into eroticism, I do respect and love free speech, and there seemed to be more free speech in those Middle-Eastern countries when the Arabian Nights were told. Compare that to the Middle-Eastern countries, which such stories came from, today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you. I admit it was something that I didn’t think about. Many of the ideas that we have today in our world may seem barbaric and primitive to future generations, where, needless to say, the world would have developed much more! I did enjoy the stories, but yes, I don’t agree with the old ideas. And my hate for these ideas overruled my love for the stories. So, overall, to me, The Arabian Nights was not a very good read. But I do respect other’s love and compassion for it.
      Thank you for the comment! Really appreciate it!

      Liked by 1 person

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