Arabian Nights week 2
Voyage to Europe
- Tales first in Europe by Galland.
- Popular, sold as fairy tales.
- Back to the notion of what is the definitive story collection
- Explanation of the sections of tales in this book: Arabic, French, Diyab
- His stories not strict retellings of traditional stories, but drew on traditional motifs, and creating new stories is a tradition
- His stories have more magic and wealth than other stories. Was that his preference? Was it aimed at popular opinion?
- Influenced by travels with Lucas, sympathy with common folk.
- Several common plots / structures introduced by Diyab into European traditions
- Galland (or editor) created the conclusion of the Nights, the happy ending.
- Structure used and exploited by many European authors
- Atomized and published in serial form
- Many interpretations. Stories received "as a source of pure narrative pleasure, as a means to deliver didactic lessons, and as an instrument of political critique."
- Sanitized version a staple of children's literature.
- Continued to be considered low brow, but some deeper themes. However, escapism and distraction were more common
- Heavily influenced Romanticism and Gothic. Emphasis on imagination and the world beyond senses.
Notes on introduction.
- How much of earlier influence is import, or parallel invention?
- Is the role of translator to be faithful, or to interpret to become accessible? Is it wrong to criticise Galland's decision?
- The different nature of Diyab's stories. Was that his preference? Was it aimed at popular opinion?
- Does the selling of these stories as fairy tales colour modern perception? They're treated as children's stories not serious literature. (Similarly, "magical realism" wins nobel prizes, but "urban fantasy" is young adult pulp.)
- This book emphasises the influence of Arabian Nights on European literature. Is it over selling the case?
- How familiar were you with these stories growing up, whether retellings of the stories, or re imagining in other settings?
Donkey and ox
- Ox laments his fate, Donkey tells him to feign illness.
- Ox does, but the merchant makes Donkey do his work.
- Donkey laments the outcome and muses on how to turn the tables. (Foreshadowing the next story)
- Interpretation: stay in peace.
Merchant and Wife
- Donkey tells ox of the impending doom.
- The merchant's wife is upset that the merchant doesn't reveal his secret.
- He prepares for his death.
- The merchant overhears the rooster tell the dog that the merchant should beat his wife. The merchant does so and the wife withdraws her question.
- Interpretation: discipline and women should obey men.
- Shahrazad persuades her father she will not be swayed. He goes to the king with her offer.
- Shahrazad enlists Dunyazad in her plot.
- Shahrazad starts her first story
Notes on the stories
Donkey and Ox
- Another example of using animal stories as moral fables? (Aesop?)
- What human features do you think the donkey and ox represent?
- The notion of a ruse, and that the tales are a ruse by Shahrazad
- Is the interpretation by the vizir the one you draw from this tale?
Merchant and wife
- What does this say about honesty and stubbornness in a marriage? Who is at fault here? The merchant for concealing a secret, the wife for insisting it's told?
- The rooster, going from wife to wife: is this Shahriyah?
- Is this a story about marriage and relations between spouses, or one about the common people holding leaders to account?
- What do you think of Shahrazad's bravery?
- Questions about how Dunyazad came to stay in the marriage bedchamber. Does this need explaining? Who else is present?