“Tales from the Arabian Nights” Abridged Compiled by Andrew Lang


“Tales from the Arabian Nights” Abridged

Compiled by Andrew Lang

Read by Toby Stephens

Published by Naxos AudioBooks

Length: 2 hours and 14 minutes


Once in a while, as you probably know from reading my posts, I have to go back and visit the classics, especially when they appear in audiobook form.  I ran across this version a year ago and planned on giving it a listen during my vacation but that didn’t work out and it sat in my iPod for a year.  I was looking for a short audiobook to fill time between some major novels and decided, it was time.


This abridged version is a sanitized childrens version of the classic collection. So you won’t be getting the adult-themed aspect of why the stories are being told; the woman telling erotic and exotic stories to the king to entertain him and entice him with wanting to hear more so she may live. Without this element, this merely becomes is a nice collection of fables. While they are cleaned up a bit, by no means are these dumbed-down, sanitized disney versions. The language used is age appropriate for young listeners, but, there is a body count, and there is a scene where somebody dumps boiling oil in the jars with the murdering thieves. This makes the stories digestible for ages nine and up, in my opinion.


This version also features some really nice music as segues between some of the scenes.  The music and the nice delivery from the narrator make for an entertaining two hours of classic story-telling.


The premise of the story is that Shahrazad is promised to a King, Shahryar.  Shahryar is notorious for killing his wives on their wedding night.  Shahrazad comes up with the plan that will make Shahryar intrigued enough to keep her alive until the next day.  She does this by telling stories with cliff-hanger endings and has to rest until the next telling.


The stories themselves are actually a collection of stories collected over thousands of years by various authors, translators and scholars. They are an amalgam of mythology and folk tales from the Indian sub-continent, Persia, and Arabia. Some of the stories date back to around the year 800-900 C.E. Many tales that have become independently famous come from the Book, among them Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Alladin and the lamp and the voyages of Sinbad the Sailor.


For the most part I remember the old Popeye meets Sinbad cartoons that actually placed some of these tales in the world of Popeye the Sailor.  This made for a nice reminiscing moment for me.