According to Wikipedia, Arabian Nights is “a collection of stories collected over many centuries by various authors, translators and scholars across the Middle East, North Africa and Indian subcontinent.” This book is a small selection of stories from Arabian Nights.
A few of these I remember hearing when I was a child (such as Ali Baba and the Forty Theives) but most of the stories in this selection were completely new to me. And then there was Aladdin which I think I remember knowing as a child, but all I can picture in my head when I think of that story is the Disney version… and the original story is QUITE different. My favourites in this selection were The Ebony Horse and The Tale of Nur al-Din Ali and His Son but there weren’t any that I didn’t particularly dislike either.
You can really tell how important story telling used to be (and still is, but in a different way) when reading this collection. There is the overall story, which is the story of Scheherazade telling stories to the king every night to keep him from killing her, and in most of the stories that she tells at least one of the characters in that story tells another story. It comes across as such an integral part of the culture at that point in time.
I would definitely be interested in reading more tales from the Arabian Nights in the future. They’re quite different than folktales from the western culture – more exotic and sensual, but still having a lot of the same morals that are so evident in our own folklore.