There seem to be four distinct versions:
- (1.) The Buddhist sermon in the Anguttara.
- (2.) The classical version, like that of Camerarius, directly borrowed from a Buddhist source.
- (3.) The popular version, touched up by the moralist, like that by Abstemius.
- (4.) Modern versions, like that of La Fontaine’s and Mrs. Thrale’s.
E owe it to the late Librarian of the Khedivial Library at Cairo, Spitta Bey, that that rich vein of folklore and story-telling out of which sprang the tales of the Arabian Nights has once more been made available for European study. Spitta Bey drew attention to the fact that the Cairene story-teller still plies his trade, and that those who choose to listen to him may still hear the stories which in one form or another have been current for so many centuries in the Mohammedan world. At the end of his invaluable grammar of spoken Egyptian Arabic, he has printed eleven Hhikâyât or tales taken down from the lips of Cairene story-tellers, and in a separate publication (Contes arabes modernes, Paris, 1883) he has given another series of twelve tales similarly transcribed as he heard them recited. The latter are provided with a French translation, but those at the end of his grammar have unfortunately never been rendered into any European language, which is the more regrettable as there are few scholars who have studied the Cairene dialect. I translated a portion of one of them in the National
- Grammatik des arabischen Vulgärdialectes von Ægypten (Leipzig, 1880).