Tuesday, September 30, 2008

...a delightful task to any boy or girl...

I'm reading* the 1909 selection of The Arabian Nights; Their Best-Known Tales edited by Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora A. Smith, with illustrations by Maxfield Parrish (reprinted by Atheneum Books).

Ms. Wiggin's Preface cracked me up, especially this:

"It would be a delightful task to any boy or girl to begin at the beginning and read the first English version of these famous stories, made from the collection of M. Galland, Professor of Arabic in the Royal College of Paris. The fact that they had passed from Arabic into French and from French into English did not prevent their instantaneous popularity. This was in 1704 or thereabouts, and the world was not so busy as it is nowadays, or young men would not have gathered in the middle of the night under M. Galland's window and cried: 'O vous, qui savez de si jolis contes, et qui les racontez si bien, racontez nous en un!'"

Obviously, this was a hundred years ago, and the world was not so... something as it is nowadays. I haven't taught a boy or girl yet who would find it a delightful task to begin at the beginning, though I did give Deanna a copy of Arabian Nights today since she's obsessed with mythology.

*re-reading? I know all these stories, but who knows where from.

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