Its tales of Aladdin , Ali Baba , and Sindbad the Sailor have almost become part of Western folklore , though these were added to the collection only in the 18th century in European adaptations. As in much medieval European literature, the stories— fairy tales , romances , legends , fables , parables , anecdotes , and exotic or realistic adventures—are set within a frame story. Then, loathing all womankind, he marries and kills a new wife each day until no more candidates can be found. His vizier , however, has two daughters, Shahrazad Scheherazade and Dunyazad; and the elder, Shahrazad, having devised a scheme to save herself and others, insists that her father give her in marriage to the king. Each evening she tells a story, leaving it incomplete and promising to finish it the following night. The stories are so entertaining, and the king so eager to hear the end, that he puts off her execution from day to day and finally abandons his cruel plan.

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Abdel-Halim, Antoine Galland et son oeuvre , Paris, ; arabists and oriental publishers then proceeded to establish, according to their own discoveries and tastes, collections so different that a table showing the divergences is indispensable for research see the table established by N.

The extant manuscripts, which can be divided into three families ibid. As Elisseeff points out op. Macdonald JRAS , , pp. The most current translations today are in French by Galland and by Mardrus , in English by Lane and by R. Salier and I.

Krachkovsky , and in Italian by F. Gabrieli ; most of these have seen several editions. Pellat, sec. Dodge, pp. The first, invited by his younger brother to visit him, forgets to bring with him a gift, returns to his palace, and finds his wife in the company of a black slave.

He did not know that anything we want, we women, we obtain. The sources of the prologue and the frame-story as well as of the tales themselves have been the objects of dispute.

Christensen, Les Kayanides , Copenhagen, , p. The name of Esther and the Jewish origin of one of the women concerned suggest a biblical reminiscence and a transferring of the tradition relating to Ahasuerus Esther ff. But the theory of M. Rajna ibid. The wisest position is that adopted by Mme. The fact remains that the names of the three personages who played a principal part in the prologue are Iranian, and a fourth is an Iranian compound.

Iran III, pp. Thus the theory which ascribes to the prologue and frame-story an Indo-Persian origin is no longer open to doubt; as for the tales of the collection, those have three different, though unequal, sources: Indian, Persian, and Arabic.

Some of the original tales were eliminated during the two last phases. Oestrup Studier over Nat , Copenhagen, considers the marvelous tales to be of Persian origin and classifies the following as Indo-Iranian: Badr and the Princes Jawhara no. Littman EI 2 I, p. These hypotheses are consistent and plausible, but can not yet be pushed further.

The themes and motifs of the collection have been carefully surveyed by Elisseeff. A thorough literary analysis is provided by Mme. In some descriptions, sermons, and letters contained in the stories, the language and style are polished, verses are inserted into the narrative, passages are found in rhymed prose.

But on the whole the language is close to colloquial Arabic. The title has been understood literally, so that the material is apportioned over one thousand and one nights; the tales have been arbitrarily sectioned to keep the listener in suspense. Some of these, translated in writing or orally recounted, no doubt crossed the boundaries of the Arab speaking world. Lull d. In Italy, the Decameron of Boccacio d. In England influences make themselves felt quite early D.

Arabian Nights , but it is difficult to trace those that affected Chaucer d. A Scots nobleman settled in Paris, Anthony Hamilton d. Distinguished writers drawn into the game included Voltaire, Thomas Moore who relies on the frame-story in his Lalla Rookh , , and Dickens whose Thousand and One Numbugs , presented as a translation of an Arabic manuscript, satirizes the French Revolution and its consequences.

This author already removes the storyteller from one specific time period. From , F. Boieldieu achieved success with his comic opera Le calife de Bagdad , another testimony to the general infatuation with the Orient and the Thousand and One Nights.

Later comic operas also used these materials—e. Fletcher, It was favorably judged by several arabists, and appreciated by its readers; versions of it were produced in Spanish by V.

Powys Mathers and it aroused renewed interest in the Nights as a source of inspiration and meditation. In a militant feminist, Mme. Aboul-Hussein and Ch. The writers continued separately to exploit the personage of Sheherazade, e. Other Oriental writers and poets followed the movement thus launched and utilized the characters of the prologue in works of all literary genres. Westlake, Adios Scheherazade French tr. The cinema also has found rich material in the Nights.

Subjects drawn from the Thousand and One Nights enjoy such success that they inspire cinematographic ballets such as Initiation to the Dance. For the producer the title must be catchy, and so it is that Ali Baba in the City has nothing in common with the tale on films earlier than see F. Apart from the few tales used by novelists, poets, musicians, or script writers, the prologue of the Thousand and One Nights has exercised the greatest influence on occidental culture and through it on contemporary Arabic literature, which has sought in it a source of inspiration truly Arabic, even though the protagonists bear Persian names.

Such exploitation is an indirect tribute to the Indo-Persian storytellers who provided the foundation for a monument long disdained by the Arabs and then revealed to the world by a West that has not yet finished taking delight in it. Submitted tags will be reviewed by site administrator before it is posted online.

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Magi: Alf Laylah wa Laylah

National literatures of Arab States. It is often known in English as the Arabian Nights , from the first English-language edition c. The work was collected over many centuries by various authors, translators, and scholars across West, Central and South Asia, and North Africa. Some tales themselves trace their roots back to ancient and medieval Arabic , Persian , Indian , Greek , Jewish and Turkish [3] folklore and literature.


The Thousand and One Nights



Encyclopædia Iranica


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