31(1) - 2019

Les Mille Nuits et Une Nuit : une « traduction littérale et complète du texte arabe » ?

Christian Balliu


The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night: A “plain and literal translation of the Arabic text”?


The Arabian Nights was first translated into French by Antoine Galland (1704-1717). His translation was a “belle infidèle”, i.e., it tried to adapt its form and its content to the tastes of the respectable French society of the day. About two centuries later, Joseph-Charles Mardrus also translated The Arabian Nights into French (1899-1904), allegedly making a “literal and complete translation from the Arabic.” This paper proposes to show, with numerous examples, that Mardrus actually gives the reader a biased version of the original, as his translation is indeed loaded with exotic fantasies about the Orient. His translation, in other words, is as unfaithful as Galland’s.


Mardrus, The Arabian Nights, the imaginary Orient, literal translation, faithfulness

DOI 10.17462/para.2019.01.03