What is common throughout all the editions of The Arabian Nights is the initial frame story of the ruler Shahryar and his wife Scheherazade and the framing device incorporated throughout the tales themselves. The stories proceed from this original tale; some are framed within other tales, while others begin and end of their own accord. Some editions contain only a few hundred nights, while others include 1001 or more "nights."
The collection, or at least certain stories drawn from it (or purporting to be drawn from it) became widely known in the West during the nineteenth century, after it was translated - first into French and then English and other European languages. At this time it acquired the English name The Arabian Nights' Entertainment or simply Arabian Nights.
The best known stories from The Arabian Nights include "Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp," "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," and "The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor." Ironically these particular stories, while they are most probably genuine Middle Eastern folk tales, were not part of the "Nights" in its Arabic versions, but were interpolated into the collection by its early European translators.
by Anonymous - translated by Dr. Jonathan Scott