Tales from the Medieval Arab world

Xzibit-1001NightsThe very first book I ever bought with my own money (insofar as a grade-schooler can be said to have his own money) was A Thousand and One Nights, more commonly known as The Arabian Nights. I bought it at a yard sale in Cinco, West Virginia. I can still remember the spare illustrations, and the leathery texture of the cornflower blue cover.

Several of the tales that would eventually be incorporated into the Nights were originally published in the 10th century as Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange, the earliest anthology of Arabic short stories. The Guardian recently featured a review of the first English translation of Tales:

The variety of the tales – a mix of comedy, fantasy and derring-do – is instantly appealing, as is their headlong narrative drive. Unlike the stories of the Arabian Nights (in which Scheherazade’s talking for her life is the thread on which the collection is hung) they have no unifying frame, and profess no didactic purpose. If there is a common element to them it is that they are almost all concerned to a greater or lesser degree with sexual or romantic love. They seem sensual, capriciously violent…

Check out the rest here!

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For my frame-story pointers referencing A Thousand and One Nights, go here.

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2 comments

  1. Well, honestly, that article was kind of a let down for me. It seemed to pick apart some of the story lines, and that bothered me. I was more excited reading the opening paragraph of this blog post, and caught the eye of a coworker with my exclamation of, “Oh!” Luckily, I was able to complete that thought in my head, and it went something like this, “I remember some of those stories! They were such great adventures. I have to read some of those stories again.” Then, I read the article, and I thought, “Why do people want to pick every little thing apart? I mean seriously, let’s trash fiction because it isn’t real, or doesn’t conform to modern standards?” Perhaps I am over-reacting. I’m going to take my 1,000 raging, fire bulls and move along, now. :0)

  2. There are people you can’t tell that you like Rocky Road without them countering with the deadly health implications of ice cream or how that one chocolate plantation in Bolaraguay [not a real place] was using child labor. It’s the cynical, hipster, nay-saying mirror image of all the “positive thinking” ideology we have to put up with, and neither of them are realistic.

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