The literature of the Arab originated in the improvisations of stories and poems among the pre-Mohammedan inhabitants of Arabia. These were the oral recitations of the people, transmitted from generation to generation. It is improbable that anything was actually collected and reduced to writing before the Ninth or Tenth Century A.D., although some time during the Ninth Century Al-Asma’i brought together the elements that make up the Romance of Antar, one of the stories from which is here reprinted. This coloured and romantic accumulation of poetic stories and legends is the great epic of Arabian literature.
The Arabs are noted for nomadic existence, but there were also town dwellers in Arabia who appreciated a less simple story than the recitations of the wandering inhabitants of the desert and therefore im-ported several cycles or collections of tales, of which the supreme masterpiece is the celebrated Thousand Nights and One