the old reading project and the new

On 1 January 2017, I set myself a challenge. I would read the Sir Richard Burton translation of the Tales of 1001 Arabian Nights. My original plan was to read one Night per day, and finish in (roughly) 3 years. But I got slightly more ambitious, cranked my pace up to four Nights per day sometime during the spring, and I finished the tale of Ma’aruf and Dayla, the last of the Tales, yesterday during a morning coffee break.

It’s been an interesting journey. I’ve had a physical copy of Sir Richard’s translation on my shelf for 20 years or so, 3 hardback volumes with very small type and very thin pages. And it’s interesting that reading it on the Kindle made it a much easier read. I carry my machine with me all the time, but I would not have been able to easily carry the bricks of the physical volumes. And sometimes, my best reading time was lunchtime or coffee, not the morning when I first woke to greet the day and not the evening, the night, when I was tired and sleep was regretfully more attractive than even reading.

I smiled when I came across Sinbad and the 7 voyages of a man never happy to be sitting at home. I remember Jinn and Ifrit freed from sealed stoppered bottles and rings. I remember caves of treasures but SPOILER ALERT it wasn’t Aladdin or Ala Al’din who found the cave and the Jinn to satisfy all his desires. Rather it was Ma’aruf who found the cave of treasure and the Jinn sealed into the ring while plowing a field.

There were long fascinating stories in the middle, like the many Tales of the battles of Gharib, and all in all, I’m happy I made the effort. The question is, what reading comes next.

I have always viewed the buying of book, the owning of books and the reading of books to be related but separate pleasures, and I have a lot of unread books on the shelves. Next though, perhaps I’ll tackle the source of one of my favourite quotes in these troubled times: Long is the way and hard that leads from darkness into light, which is a paraphrase but I think a reasonable paraphrase for most situations.

~ by Jim Anderson on 8 December 2017.

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