Obscure Arabian Nights, part 1

Aladdin, Ali Baba and Sindbad are undoubtedly the favourite and most well known of the many tales from the Arabian Nights.  They are the three most likely tales to appear as their own book, often adapted for children.

Aladdin, Pocket Series No. 2Shown here is a little booklet featuring the story of Aladdin.  The booklet measures 85 x 119 mm and contains 16 pages.  There are 6 illustrations included.  These are unsigned line drawings covering about half a page each.  The booklet is No. 2 in the Pocket Series Fairy Stories.  The inside cover list 9 titles in this series and an additional 6 titles that are part of the Pocket Series Adventure Stories.  The booklets are printed in Great Britain and published by Pocket Editions, London.  The back cover of the Aladdin booklet has an advertisement for Horniman’s Tea.  The front cover has a price of 3d on it.  From that I infer that these booklets were sole separately and were not given out as part of a promotion or came as part of a toy.

Line Drawing from Aladdin, Pocket Series No. 2

That is all the information I have on this little book.  A simple search on the web comes up blank.  I can’t find any copies of any of the other titles listed as part of the series.  I would love to hear from anyone who has more information about this series. No. 3 of the Pocket Series Fairy Stories is listed as Sindbad and it would be a worthy addition to my collection.

The Aladdin story is generally pretty long.  The John Payne version runs to nearly 200 pages.  So, to pare it down to a small sixteen pages, much must be left out.  The first half of this version (a full 8 pages of the text) focuses on Aladdin, the Magician and the finding of the lamp.  By page 8 Aladdin has escaped the cave and returned home.  It only takes 3 pages for Aladdin to win the Princess.  By page 12 the Magician returns to the story and page 13 has the “new lamps for old” scam.  It doesn’t take Aladdin long to get back into the game.  On page 14 his mother reminds him that he still controls the genie of the ring.  He quickly finds the missing Princess, has her poison the Magician and the both return to their home in China.

One scene I look at in children’s versions of Aladdin is how the handle the return of the lamp.  This particular version is old enough that they just kill the Magician outright.  Aladdin urges the princess: “Take this drug, and when you dine with the Magician to-night, slip some into his wine.” No mention that it will kill him.  It could just be knock-out drops.  That possibility is laid to rest right away.  Two sentences on we have: “He [Aladdin] saw the Magician lead the Princess to the Banqueting Table and heard the Princess say “My noble Lord, refresh yourself first with a cup of wine.” The Magician smilingly raised the cup to his lips and drank.  He staggered, then crashed to the floor, quite dead.”  Everybody goes home happy, unless you happen to be an evil magician.  The end.

Anonomous. Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp. London: Pocket Editions, n.d. pp. 16.
Illustrated with line drawings.  No. 2 in the Pocket Series Fairy Stories.

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