The cover is incredibly intricate and beautiful. The pages are gold dipped but seem to be prone to flaking. It has a satin marker and many illustrations in color and black and white. Rene Bull's illustrations have a surreal, trippy, almost sci-fi feel, somewhat similar to Frank Frazetta. The Alfred W. Cooper ones are nice and more natural but do sort of clash with Bull's funky style. This book also contains story-specific headers, which is always convenient and drifting page numbers that follow a faint design from the top of the page at the beginning to the bottom by the end.
It is worth noting that this translation was done by Sir Richard F. Burton (an interesting character) in 1884 and has a stylish but definitely dated vocabulary as would be expected, so if you cannot tolerate Thous and Quoths and Haths this is not the translation for you. Personally I enjoy the dated language because it gives the work a proper amount of foreigness from the present that enhances the stories' historical weight.
It also might matter for some people that this is definitely a post-Islamic Arabic rendering/sourcing of these stories which most likely had diverse origins from all over Persia, India, and even China well before the birth of Islam. The effect of this is something like the Christian influence on texts such as Beowulf where the story isn't so much corrupted as obviously interspersed with overhanded religious injections and alterations that stand out against the core story quite obviously/oddly at times. The only other translation of these tales I have read contained zero Islamic references--whether that was intentional or based on their source material I cannot say.
This excerpt from my other translation is far more consistent and fable-like:
The porter, who had often heard people speak of the immense wealth of Sindbad, could not help feeling envious of one whose lot seemed to be as happy as his own was miserable.
"Consider, Mighty creator of all things, the differences between Sindbad's life and mine. Every day I suffer a thousand hardships and misfortunes, and have hard work to get even enough bad barley bread to keep myself and my family alive, while the lucky Sindbad spends money right and left and lives upon the fat of the land! What has he done that you should give him this pleasant life--what have I done to deserve so hard a fate?"
Whereas the same section from Burton's seems completely over-the-top and ham-fistedly repetitious:
So he raised his eyes heavenwards and said, "Glory to Thee, O Lord, O Creator and Provider, who providest whomso Thou wilt without count or stint! O mine Holy One, I cry Thee pardon for all sins and turn to Thee repenting of all offenses! O Lord there is no gainsaying Thee in Thine ordinance and in Thy dominion, neither wilt Thou be questioned of that Thou dost, for Thou indeed over all things art Almighty! Extolled be Thy perfection: whom Thou wilt Thou makest poor and whom Thou wilt Thou makest rich! Whom Thou wilt Thou exaltest and whom Thou wilt Thou abasest and there is no god but Thou! How mighty is Thy majesty and how enduring Thy dominion and how excellent Thy government! Verily Thou favorest whom Thou wilt of Thy servants, whereby the owner of this place abideth in all joyance of life and delighteth himself with pleasant scents and delicious meats and exquisite wines of all kinds. For indeed Thou appointest unto Thy creatures that which Thou wilt and that which Thou has foreordained unto them; wherefore are some weary and others are at rest and some enjoy fair fortune and affluence, whilst others suffer the extreme of travail and misery, even as I do." And he fell to reciting:
"How many by my labours, that evermore endure
All goods of life enjoy and in cooly shade recline?
Each morn that dawns I wake in travail and in woe
And strange is my condition and my burden gars me pine:
Many others are in luck and from miseries are free,
And fortune never loads them with loads the like o' mine:
They live their happy days in all solace and delight,
Eat drink and dwell in honour 'mid the noble and the digne:
All living things were made of a little drop of sperm,
Thine origin is mine and my provenance is thine:
Yet the difference and the distance 'twixt the twain of us are far
As the difference of savour of vinegar and wine
But at Thee, O God All-wise! I venture not to rail
Whose ordinance is just and whose justice cannot fail."
It seems to me that the entirety of the ridiculous 'Glory to Thee...' bit, and possibly the final two lines of the verse, were shoehorned in because they betray the narrative's clear message and read like speedbumps to the sense of the story. The core of the story is that a porter living a lowly life smells sweet smells and hears enchanting music and feels envious about the opulence of Sindbad's lifestyle, and further assumes that it was bitter fate or chance alone that led to their disparity in success. This simple theme is hijacked with incongruent religious outpouring that essentially attempts to eliminate or invalidate the porter's feeling of envy entirely and preemptively, because the editor seems to have confused the emotion of envy with a blasphemy against Allah's divine Will, and worked excessively to correct this 'error'. However, without the porter's commonplace envy and self-pity the narrative structure collapses, because it is precisely the porter's ignorant assumption and pining that Sindbad hadn't earned his wealth which prompts Sindbad to relate the tales of his voyages and the many hardships he endured. You cannot reconcile even a single aspect of the Sindbad opening if the lowly man understands, from the outset, that Allah's Will is perfect and that there is nothing to bemoan in the disparity between himself and Sindbad--it voids the logic of the entire narrative premise.
- Hardcover: 760 pages
- Publisher: Barnes & Noble Inc; New ed edition (3 October 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1435156234
- ISBN-13: 978-1435156234
- Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 4.6 x 16.6 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 1.2 Kg
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)