Arabian Nights week 1
- Lure of the exotic and oriental, to European readers.
- Long history of stories from different cultures. Core of the story, and the structure, is pre-Islamic
- No single definitive collection: "1001" is "large indeterminate number"
- Considered low-brow literature by Islamic culture: not poetry, even if poetry inserted.
- Stories "written by people in cities, about people in cities, for people in cities"
- Culture of storytelling as pubic entertainment, cliffhangers to secure money in future
- Not Islamic stories, but in a setting of Islam
- Hints towards how to interpret the stories, in light of the "battle of sexes" frame
How much of this did you know? How much of it was new to you? What did you already know of the Arabian Nights? Why are you interested in reading this book now?
- Shahzaman betrayed by his wife, kills her and her lover. He pines away while as a guest of Shahriyah.
- Shahzaman observes Shahriyah's wife and attendants (slaves) having sex with other slaves (who is Masud?)
- Shahzaman's mood improves, he tells Shahriyah why and they watch another tryst.
- The brothers leave the city and come across a jinn and his wife. The brothers are threatened into having sex with the woman. (Another parallel of female agency.)
- Shahriyah returns, kills his wife and slaves, then starts the process of marrying then killing a woman each night.
- Shahrazah tells her father, the vizir, that she should marry Shahriyah next. He replies with a tale...
- Interpretations: What does this introduction, and the story cycle as a whole, mean? Is it Oriental tyranny and eroticism, a tale of just and unjust rule, or about feminine power and resistance?
- Why does this frame story persist? And note the variations mentioned in the sidebar.
- There are many references to the infidelity of women, but is that a betrayal, or their attempt to exert some agency in their life of imprisonment?
- References to racism in the tales, something that crops up in the other translation I read.
What did you think of this introduction? Is it a thrilling tale? Are you eager to find out what happens next?
What do you think is the most interesting interpretation of the tales?