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Manuscripts of the Egyptian Mille recention and a nights. A codicological study, with critical editing, translation and linguistic and literary analysis of the Jānšāh tale


KeywordsTriple Keywords
Language and languages
Foreign languages
World literature
Western literature (Western countries)
Linguistic science
Science of language
Evaluation of literature
Literary criticism


Les Mille et un Nuits, popularised in Europe by the French translation of Galland, fascinated millions of readers and generated many studies. Storm analyses are most often based on the Arab editions of the 19th century, although none of them is truly reliable. Since Hermann Zotenberg’s classification of Nuts manuscripts at the end of the 19th century, research in this field has not really progressed. One of the groups defined by Zotenberg, the Egyptian recention, also known as ZER (‘Zotenbergs Egyptian recension’), brings together manuscripts comprising a thousand and one nights, copied in Egypt at the end of the 18th or early 19th century. These manuscripts are in four volumes and the distribution of the text in nights is the same; they also have many common codicological characteristics. I propose a precise codicological analysis of each of these manuscripts. The Mille and a Nuits were written for bourgeois, in their own language, the Arabic medium. A thorough study of the language of the nights manuscripts is thus advancing our knowledge of this variety of Arabs which is still unknown. The language study focuses on Jānšāh, whose critical synoptic edition — in comparison with the text of the old Arab editions of the text, collated for the occasion — is established. This linguistic analysis focuses initially on manuscripts and then on the old editions of the text. The critical edition is the basis for a new French translation and a literary study of the storm. The results of the two strands of research are then confronted with a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach. This results in a better knowledge of this comprehensive tradition of Mille and a Nuits, but also of the practices of book artisans active in Egypt at the end of the 18th or early 19th century and of the language then used for recreational literature.

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