The Haft Paykar: A Medieval Persian Romance
Oxford Universtiy Press, 1995
In addition to his Khamseh, Nizami also wrote the Haft Paykar. I didn't particularily care for this translation, but it's the only one I've found. I forget the frame story to it (I think it's Bahram Gur visiting five maidens in different coloured tents, but that may be an inner story) but in it Bahram Gur tells a different short story to each of the maidens he romances. [TbIaI]
The Hand of Poetry, Five Mystic Poets of Persia
Inayat Khan, Coleman Barks (Translator)
This is an excellent sampler of five of the primier Sufi poets.
It has excerpts of Sanai, Attar, Rumi, Saadi, and Hafiz (ranging
in time from the 12th to the 14th century). I don't read Farsi
*sniff* so I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the translations, but
I find them very powerful in comparison to the other translations
I've read (primarily by Victorian poets) which I believe is more
in keeping of the spirit of Sufi poetry even if some literalness
is lost in the translation. Essays by Inayat Khan from a lecture
series he gave in 1923 introduce each section. Obviously the essays
are post-period, but they are beautiful and worth reading for the
insight they give into Sufi philosophy and the poets work and life in
general. Some of the essays and translator introductions also contain
source material about the poet's lives. There is an appendix at the
end of Source material which will allow anyone who falls as deeply
in love with the poets as I did to track down more complete volumes of
their works. [TbIaI]
Buy The Hand of Poetry
Harlequin and the Gift of Many
Remy Charlip and Burton Supree
Parents' Magazine Press, 1973
Harelquin is the French name for the commedia dell
arte character, Arlecchino. Modern 'Harlequins' wear suits of
multi-coloured diamond patches, but the original Arlecchino wore a suit
of good clothing, patched and re-patched. This wasn't romantic enough
for the French who created this charming story of generosity amongst friends
during the Carnival that preceeds Lent. This book (a childrens' book,
with wonderful illustrations) is based on an outline from Larousse's "Dictionnaire
Unversel du XIX Siecle" (1865) but the character and the story are both
much older. [AY]
Buy Harlequin and the Gift of Many Colors
Paul A. Chilton (Translator)
The "Heptameron" is an incomplete French work. It was written by Margaret of Navarre, also known as Margaret of Angouleme (1492-1549), who was a sister of the French king Francis I. An important protector of John Calvin, the poet Clement Marot, and other early reformers of the church, she expressed her intensely felt religious views in poetry and plays.
The Heptameron was published in 1558. Modeled on Boccaccio's Decameron,
it contains short stories told by fictional characters who probably represent
Margaret and her circle. The stories, and especially the conversations
between the characters, stress the frequent unhappiness of women and the
joys of chaste love leading to the love of God. [AY]
Buy The Heptameron
Herodotus: The Histories
Herodutus, Aubrey De Selincourt (Translator)
Our old friend Herodotus lived during the fifth century BC and that is considered to be the ancestor of all modern critical historical study -- don't ask me why, since Herodotus often mixes his history with myth--discussing, for example, the fabled race of Amazon warrior women alongside more factual records of Egyptian geography. Great for a storyteller, must be frustrating as hell for an historian. That being said, he did employ methods of inquiry not so unlike modern, inter-disciplinary scholarship. His histories recounted not only the human and political stories of human activities, but also included writings on geography, biology, and ethnography.
This is a *long* book (600+ pages in this edition), and story material
is scattered throughout it's length. Go through it carefully -- it's
well worth it. [AY]
Heroes, Monsters, and Other Worlds from Russian Mythology
Elizabeth Warner (Alexander Koshkin, illus.)
Douglas & MacIntyre, Toronto
This is a wonderful book. I do not know if the others in the "World Mythology Series" are as good (Greek Myths; Viking Mythology; Chinese Mythology; Roman Mythology; Arab Mythology; and others), but I'd certainly encourage anyone interested in one of the cultures they cover to flip through these books. I had to order my copy from the publisher in Toronto.
This book is both a commentry on Russian mythology, discussing what differing creatures or places represent, but also a great source for storyt material. Each chapter deals with a differing mythological element: The Old Gods; Smiths and Ploughman; Witches and Wizards; Shape-changers; etc. There is also a good list of sources (almost all in Russian, I was pleased to see), and some intelligent history and description of Russian story types.
The book does not always cite the dates of stories (many are "traditional"),
but if you are interested in Russian mythology, this is an easily read
interesting work on the subject -- and a good source for stories. [AY]
Buy Heroes, Monsters and Other Worlds
The History of the Mohammedan Dynasties in Spain
extracted from the Nfahu-t-tib min ghosni-l-Andalusi-r-rattib wa tarikh Lisanu-d-din Ibn-l-Khattib by Ahmad ibn Muhammed al-Maqqari, a native of Telamsan
Pascual de Gayangos (Translator)
London printed for the Oriental translation fund of Great Britain and Ireland, New York,
Johnson Reprint Corp., 1964.
Al-Maqqari was a historian just a smidge post-period (this history was published mid-1600's I believe), however, he has two plus points which is why I'm posting an out of period source. He covers the entire history of Al-Andalus from the Moslem conquest to the end of the Almoravides (I believe to the reconquest of Granada but that's post my time-period so I didn't actually read that far) in a fashion which is chock-full of anecdotes about the various emirs, caliphs, wazirs, etc. of Al-Andalus. And he does this by being a very lazy historian and quoting from already-written histories which ARE in period (the introduction to the volumes states that it is more accurate to say al-Maqqari edited a History Collection rather than wrote a history and that's very true). Most of those excerpts are full of colourful descriptions and swaggering quotations.
This is a two-volume work, and the second volume is the one of value to the storyteller. The first volume is more of a description of the lands of al-Andalus--interesting for historical research, but not much material for tale-telling. The second volume is where he really gets into the lives of the rulers and the various battles against the Christians, the Almohads, the Almoravides etc.
His second plus point, again is the language thing. He's been
translated into English. [TbIaI]
Buy The History of the Mohammedan Dynasties in Spain
The Homeric Epics
The Homeric epics are known singularly as the Iliad and the Odyssey.
No one knows who the poem Homer was, or even if he composed the epics that are attributed to him. The latest research dates the poems to c. 750-725 BC (Iliad) and c. 743-713 BC (Odyssey).
Who ever composed them, when ever it was done, of this there is no doubt -- these are great stories.
The Iliad takes place during the 10th year of the Siege of Troy. The first line of the poem describes the content: "Sing, O Muse, of the rage of Achilles, son of Pelius". But besides the anger of Achilles (more like sulking, I always thought) this story contains great battle scenes and lots of death. My personal favorite is the Death of Hector (and Achilles dragging his body around the walls).
A warning: many people find the Iliad thorny to ready. It's tough going, even in English.
However, the second in the set, the Odyssey, is much more fun to read. As most of you probably know, it's the journey of Odysseus from Troy to Ithaca, his home, which takes about 10 years. He has many adventures, most of which can make good stand-alone stories, like his encounter with the Cyclops.
There are many translations available. I first read Robert Fitzgerald.
Richard Lattimore is sort of classic -- if I remember correctly (it's been
a while since I read this one) it's a poetic translation and the English is
done in the same meter as the Greek (dactylic hexameter -- epic meter -- for
those who are curious). The newest (and possibly the best) translation is
done by Robert Fagles. This is the translation Sir Vissivald reads at
Pennsic. All three translations are available from Amazon and you can get
the Fagles on audiocassette, read by Derek Jacobi. [MW]
Buy the Fagles translation of The Iliad
Buy the Fagles translation of The Odyssey
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Contents © 1999-2006 Alex Newman for the Carolingian Storytellers Guild