Edward William Lane  

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Lane translated against Galland, Burton against Lane; to understand Burton we must understand this hostile dynasty."--Jorge Luis Borges, "The Translators of "The Thousand and One Nights""


"I shall overlook an episode of the most reprehensible sort; I suppress a repugnant explanation; Here, a line far too coarse for translation; I must of necessity suppress the other anecdote; Hereafter, a series of omissions; Here, the story of the slave Bujait, wholly inappropriate for translation."--Lane on his 1001 Nights translation cited in Jorge Luis Borges, "The Translators of "The Thousand and One Nights""

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Edward William Lane (17 September 1801– 10 August 1876) was a British Orientalist, translator and lexicographer. He is known for his translation of One Thousand and One Nights, which he censored, with the usual 19th-century view on "Victorian morality".

1001 Nights

Lane's next major project was a translation of the One Thousand and One Nights. His version first saw light in monthly parts in the years 1838 to 1840, and was published in three volumes in 1840. A revised edition came out in 1859. The encyclopedic annotations were published, after his death, separately in 1883 by his great-nephew Stanley Lane-Poole, as Arabian Society in the Middle Ages. Lane's version is bowdlerized, and illustrated by William Harvey.

Opinions vary on the quality of Lane's translation. One comments, "... Lane's version is markedly superior to any other that has appeared in English, if superiority is allowed to be measured by accuracy and an honest and unambitious desire to reproduce the authentic spirit as well as the letter of the original." Yet another, "... [Lane's] style tends towards the grandiose and mock-biblical... Word order is frequently and pointlessly inverted. Where the style is not pompously high-flown, it is often painfully and uninspiringly literal... It is also peppered with Latinisms."

Lane himself saw the Nights as an edifying work, as he had expressed earlier in a note in his preface to the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians,
There is one work, however, which represents most admirable pictures of the manners and customs of the Arabs, and particularly of those of the Egyptians; it is 'The Thousand and One Nights; or, Arabian Nights' Entertainments:' if the English reader had possessed a close translation of it with sufficient illustrative notes, I might almost have spared myself the labour of the present undertaking.




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