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CLOUSTON, William Alexander (ed.)

The Bakhtyar Nama: a Persian Romance.

Translated from a Manuscript Text by Sir William Ouseley.

[Larkhall, Lanarkshire], privately printed [by William Burns], 1883 Stock Code: 132751
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First edition thus, one of 300 copies, inscribed to Jane Morris on the blank preceding the title, "To Mrs. Morris from The Editor", and probably bound for presentation. Ouseley's translation was originally published in 1800 but had become rare by the 1880s and the Orcadian scholar Clouston considered it worth reprinting. Noted on the title page as editor of Arabian Poetry for English Readers (1881), Clouston also contributed to Burton's Supplemental Arabian Nights. He and William Morris would have known each other through the Early English Text Society, founded by their mutual acquaintance, the tactless and pugnacious Dr Frederick J. Furnivall, to whom Clouston regularly gave editorial assistance.
At the time of the presentation, Jane Morris was mourning the death in 1882 of her sometime lover, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. A year later she would meet her next lover, the poet and political activist Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, who espoused a serious interest in Islam.
Although described as a Persian romance, the earliest known example of the Baktiar-nama is an Arabic version entitled 'Aja 'eb al-bakt fi quessat al-ehday 'asar waziran ma jara lahom ma 'Ebn al-Molk Azadbakt, dated 1000 CE (published in Egypt, 1886). The earliest known Persian version is dated 663/1265 (Bib. Nat. ms. 2035; see Cat. Bib. Nat. IV, pp. 14-15). Clouston's argument in his preface that the work ultimately derives from an Indian original is of historic interest but not now generally accepted.

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Octavo (182 x 120 mm). Contemporary olive morocco by J. Leighton, Brewer St., covers with gilt-ruled border with small arabesque cornerpieces, spine in six compartments with raised bands, lettered in the second and third compartments, the others with repeat decoration in gilt centred on a stylized floral sprig tool, gilt turn-ins, gilt edges.


Slight sunning and rubbing, an excellent copy.


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