First complete edition of the Arabic text

[Alf layla wa-layla]. MacNaghten, W. H. (ed.). The Alif Laila or Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night, Commonly Known as The Arabian Nights' Entertainments; now, for the first time, published complete in the original Arabic [...].

Calcutta & London, W. Thacker & Co., Wm. H. Allen & Co., 1839-1842.

Tall 8vo (172 x 252 mm). 4 vols. Arabic text throughout apart from titles in English (lacking in second volume) and 4 pp. subscribers' list in vol. 4. Modern half calf over marbled boards with blindstamped spine title.


The rare and celebrated first complete edition of the Arabic text, printed in Calcutta at the Baptist Mission Press. Also known as the "Calcutta II" version, this is described on the title as "now, for the first time, published complete in the original Arabic, from an Egyptian manuscript brought to India by the late Major Turner Macan, editor of the Shah-Nameh".

The original scattered Arabic texts were collected in four corpora: the so-called Calcutta I or Shirwanee edition (1814-18, 2 vols.), the Bulaq or Cairo edition (1835, 2 vols.), the Breslau edition (1825-38, 8 vols.), and the present one, the "Calcutta II" or the "MacNaghten" edition. Considered the most comprehensive text of the Arabian Nights, this is also the basis for the best-known translations including the English editions by John Payne and Richard F. Burton.

"Première édition complète du texte arabe [...] Elle a été donnée d'après un manuscrit égyptien pris dans l'Inde par le major Turner Macan, et elle a eu pour éditeur sir W.-H. Macnaghten" (Brunet). "It was only in 1839-1842 that the Arabic text [of the 1001 Nights] was edited in its entirety, by Macnaghten" (cf. Fück).

Browned and brownstained. Intermittent worming throughout, occasionally with extensive loss and stabilized with translucent paper, especially concerning the beginning and end of vol. 2. An extraordinary survival.

Chauvin IV, p. 17, 20B. Brunet III, 1715. Graesse IV, 523. Fück, p. 139, n. 365.

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