The following is, I believe, the earliest European translation:
Tales of a Parrot; Done into English, From a Persian Manuscript, Intitled Tooti Namêh. By a Teacher of the Persic, Arabic, Hebrew, Syriac, Chaldaic, Greek, Latin, Italian, French and English Languages. (London: Printed for the Translator, at the Minerva Press, 1792). xvi+188pp.
An advertisement at the opening of the book offers housecalls for those
wishing to be tutored in Persian or the sundry above-mentioned languages:
"Genetlemen destined for India, who are desirous of learning the Persian, or Arabian Tongues, and Others, who wish to acquire a complete Knowledge of the Hebrew; or improve themselves in the Greek or Roman Classics, may be attended at their own Houses, and instructed in the most effectual and expeditious Manner, by the Editor of the following Sheets. -- Apply, or direct (Post paid) to : Nakhshebi, At the Minerva Printing-Office, Leadenhall Street."
The Prolegomena promises that anyone capable of reading Persian may see the manuscript of the "Tooti Namêh," which had been "brought to England by an Officer in the East-India Company's service." The translator who alludes to "late domestic afflictions" which have resulted in the waylaying or destruction of his notes on the Persian language, promises a second volume (which apparently never appeared, unless it was included in the Calcutta edition of the same year, which I have not seen). It was to "probably" have included "a consideration of the advantages of the oriental languages in general, and the Persian in particular," as well as a historical account of the language and the "present state of it in Asia."... "In the mean time it may (for the encouragement of the Asiatic student,) be depended on as an undoubted fact, drawn from experience, that the only difficulties attending the acquisition of this most regular, copious, and valuable language, are the scarcity of printed books, the high price of MSS. and the want of proper teachers."
Also in the Prolegomena, the translator gives this description of his theory/style of translation: "As a teacher of the Persian and some other polite and commercial languages of Asia and Europe, I find myself obliged, in spite of my own or other people's ideas of classical propriety, to imitate the style of the original. Men who have made the ancients, by which I mean the Greeks and Romans only, their model, will dislike this; while a few gentlemen of a different description will blame me for having used the pruning-knife with too much freedom."
Plus ca change..... Although the London printing of this book is mum as to the name of the translator, it is apparently B. Gerrans, who is credited as Ed. on a Calcutta edition of the book published in the same year by A. Upjohn. Gerrans had previously done a translation of the travels of Benjamin of Tudela in 1783, sold by the same Messrs. Robson mentioned after Minerva Press in the credits on the title page of the London Tooti Nameh of 1792.
In 1801 a parallel text translation by Francis Gladwin appeared in London (J. Debrett), reprinted in 1812 in Calcutta by Ramtonoo Congoley, which wrongly attributed the translation to William Beckford (author of Vathek). A reproduction of Gladwin was done in Tehran in 1967 (Kitab'khana-yi Asadi). Gladwin based his translation on a 17th century abridgement of Nakhshabi (d. c. 1350) by Muhammad Khudavand Qadiri (a printed edition of Qadiri's text appeared in Bombay in 1888; a Persian edition of the Tuti Nama edited by Shams Al-i Ahmad and published by Bunyad-i Farhang-i Iran in Tehran in 1973 as Tuti nama ya javahir al-asmar, attributes the work to `Imad b. Muhammad Saghari. There is a 1993 edition by F. Mujtaba'i and Ghulam Ali Arya, which credits Ziya al-Din Nakhshabi as author).
In 1822 a German translation by Carl Jakob Ludwig Iken (with supplementary notes by Johann Gottfried Ludwig Kosegarten), based on Gladwin's English version, was published in Stuttgart (Cottaischen Buchhandlung) as Touti Nameh: eine Sammlung persischer Mährchen. A French translation, done from the English edition of Gerrans by Madame Marie d' Heures (pseudonym for Clotilde-Marie Collin de Plancy) appeared as Les trente-cinq contes d'un perroquet, published in Paris by P. Mongie-ainé in 1826, a new edition of which appeared in 1934. There are several versions in Indian languages (e.g., Bengali in 1805, Hindustani in 1810 by Saiyid Haidar Bakhsh, whose version was then translated to English by Duncan Forbes, 1858, and George Small, 1875). There are other English and German editions (including one made in 1858 by Georg Rosen from a Turkish version of the tales), as well as translations to Polish (1959), Russian (1979) and Spanish (Palma de Mallorca, 1988).
May 6, 2005
in a post to the ADABIYAT listserv (archives: http://www.listserv.emory.edu/archives/adabiyat.html)