East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Another idea

People that do not write have a hard time understanding that ideas are everywhere. They’ll come to you and say “I’ve got this great idea for a novel, I’ll tell you so you’ll write it and we can share the money.”
They get it wrong on three counts – first, because they think there really is any serious money in writing (ah!), and second, they believe their idea is unique (it’s not).
Third, and final, you can’t write a book based on a single idea. You need at least two good ideas to rub together for a long work to have a hope in hell.

Ideas are everywhere, and a good writer – well, a decent writer… let’s say a serviceable hack – is the one that can recognize them as they pour around him.
A general rule of thumb is, when you are overworked, stretched thin and at the lowest point of a low period, you’ll start getting all these brilliant ideas.
It’s like an Egyptian curse.

Let me give you an example.

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Arabian Nights Art 3: Abu Kir & Abu Sir

arabian nights italy 1958 2Last installment and last gallery for the 1958 Fratelli Fabbri edition of a selection of tales from the Arabian Nights.

The last story in the book is The Tale of Abu Kir the Dyer and Abu Sir the Barber, and once again it is illustrated by Benvenuti. This is the widest selection of illustrations: the two previous tales got ten images each, but the final tale gets nineteen. And we won’t complain for that!

Once again, if you’d like to read the original, you can check out the version available at Sacred Texts.

For a complete version of the Arabian Nights, Project Gutenberg offers both the Andrew Lang translation, and the “complete” 1890 “Aldine edition”. But the Gutenberg guys really have a wide selection of versions of the book.

Print editions are many and deserve a separate post (maybe, one day).

And now, here’s the gallery.

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Arabian NIghts Art 2: Blind Baba Abdalla

arabian nights italy 1958 2Last week I posted a gallery of images from the first of the three Arabian Nights tales, taken from the 1958 Fratelli Fabbri volume.
The experiment was quite successful, so here we go with the second tale – billed as The Blind Sheik, but commonly referred to as The Tale of Blind Baba Abdalla.
It is interesting to note that the stories in this 54 booklet are not adaptations but, apparently, straight translations of the original text.

If you like, you can read the original story from the Sacred Texts website – in the Andrew Lang, 1898 translation.

Once again, the illustrations are by Benvenuti.

Next week, the third and last story, and gallery.

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Arabian Nights Art 1: Kamar & Budur

arabian nights italy 1958 2My love of the Arabian Nights is on file – I have a few different editions, and I re-read a few tales every year. I’m still looking for the perfect, definitive edition, well knowing I will never find it and yet, that’s part of the mystique of the book.

Back in 1958, Italian publisher Fratelli Fabbri issued a gorgeously illustrated selection of stories from the Arabian Nights.
It was a 54-pages book – part of their line of books for young readers – and it included just three stories:

the Tale of Kamar al Zalam

the Tale of thge Blind Baba Abdalla

the Tale of Abu Kir the Dyer and Abu Sir the Barber

I actually never saw the book. What I saw was the artwork, which was absolutely stunning, and is credited to Benvenuti (most likely Gianni Benvenuti, 1926-2005).
So here’s a gallery taken from the first story, The tale of Prince Kamar and princess Budur.
You can read the original story on Wikisource.
I’ll post galleries for the next two stories in the next two weeks.