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Performances for Sleepless Tyrants

Marina Warner: ‘Tales of the Marvellous’

8 January 2015
Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange 
translated by Malcolm Lyons, introduced by Robert Irwin.
Penguin, 600 pp., £25, November 2014, 978 0 14 139503 6
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... the legendary caliph of Baghdad in its heyday – would ask for a story to calm his troubled mind. Or so it is said in this compendium of stories, freshly unearthed by the Arabists Robert Irwin and MalcolmLyons, who also worked on the recent Penguin three-volume Arabian Nights.* In Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange, the storytellers are mostly described as learned sheikhs with vast ...

Travelling Text

Marina Warner: ‘The Arabian Nights’

18 December 2008
The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1001 Nights 
translated by Malcolm Lyons, with Ursula Lyons.
Penguin, 2715 pp., £125, November 2008, 978 0 14 091166 4
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‘The Arabian Nights’ in Historical Context: Between East and West 
edited by Saree Makdisi and Felicity Nussbaum.
Oxford, 337 pp., £55, November 2008, 978 0 19 955415 7
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... until 1984; Muhsin Mahdi based his text on a manuscript dated from the 14th or 15th century and tackled only a handful of stories. The ambitious new Penguin edition, translated by the veteran Arabist MalcolmLyons, can claim to be the first ‘complete’ English version rendered from the original without recourse to Galland. But the inverted commas are needed, because there can never really be a ...

Fudging the news

J. Arch Getty

9 May 1991
Stalin’s Apologist. Walter Duranty: The ‘New York Times’ Man in Moscow 
by S.J. Taylor.
Oxford, 404 pp., £15, August 1990, 0 19 505700 7
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... by reading the work of these colourful characters who, with their trenchcoats, typewriters and suitcases, moved from capital to capital sniffing out the news. Writers like H. R. Knickerbocker, Malcolm Muggeridge, Eugene Lyons, John Gunther and Walter Duranty were our eyes and cars in the world. The milieux in which these men functioned in the Twenties and Thirties were turbulent and romantic ...

Joseph Jobson

Patrick Wormald

18 April 1985
Saladin in his Time 
by P.H. Newby.
Faber, 210 pp., £10.95, November 1983, 0 571 13044 5
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Soldiers of the Faith: Crusaders and Moslems at War 
by Ronald Finucane.
Dent, 247 pp., £12.50, November 1983, 0 460 12040 9
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... of modern accolades, the debunking biography. Newby’s book – for the general reader, it appears – follows hard (though for the most part independently) on the remorselessly scholarly study by Malcolm Cameron Lyons and D.E.P. Jackson. It is a careful and sensible work, with no illusions about 12th-century Islamic politics, but its conclusion is that the high Western opinion of Saladin was ...

Vile Bodies

Rosemary Dinnage

18 September 1980
Prostitutes: Our Life 
edited by Claude Jaget, translated by Anna Furse, Suize Fleming and Ruth Hall.
Falling Wall Press, 221 pp., £8.50, May 1980, 0 905046 12 9
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... thing to her’). Prostitutes, in an even more fundamental way than Jews or Blacks, are pelted with society’s projections; occasionally projections of goodness (there was an inane remark of Malcolm Muggeridge’s about some quality – holiness? spirituality? – shared only by nuns and prostitutes) but usually, of course, of badness (‘the ones that ask me to defecate in their mouths, they ...

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