There’s a fascinating post over at the Arabic Literature in English blog. Some of you may remember me posting last year about Tales of the Marvellous, News of the Strange, a new English translation of a book that significantly pre-dates the earliest copy of The 1001 Nights that we know of. That book was announced to the world in 1933, but was only available in German. Well it turns out that there is another book of tales, confusingly called The 101 Nights, which was translated into French in 1911. That book is now being translated into English by Bruce Fudge, Professor of Arabic at the University of Geneva.
The post I allude to above is the first part of an interview with Professor Fudge. In it he speculates that what we are seeing now is the tip of an iceberg of Arabic fantastic literature. There are, he says, plenty of other manuscripts lying unstudied in libraries in the Middle East and Europe:
I know in Paris and Berlin alone there are dozens, if not hundreds, of these types of manuscripts. I think Paris alone has enough for a few scholarly careers. But for much of the 20th century, scholars didn’t taken much interest in these.
There’s a whole world of fantasy history out there waiting to be rediscovered.