Saturday, December 3, 2016
The Arabian Nights
Overall, it was an enjoyable read. I went into it knowing it was a collection of ancient myths, parables and other such lore, all framed within the famous story of the concubine Scherazade keeping herself alive by telling the king what is not necessarily a never ending story, but rather that she ends each story with a sort of: "Well if you liked THAT tale, have you heard the one about..." and then the next chapter continues.
It was interesting to read some of the original tales, or to see where they came from. Stories about genies, Aladdin and the lamp, The Seven Voyages of Sinbad, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, the original "three wishes" kind of stories. These stories all originated here so from a historical context it was interesting when I'd read a tale and realize: "Oh! THAT'S where that came from", which is somewhat the same reaction I had when I started getting more into Shakespeare and seeing how pervasive the ideas and stories are. I doubt Disney would exist without borrowing ideas from this text!
If there was a problem for me, it is that the collection (not a total compilation by any means as I have read there are much longer versions available with much more stories), the tales do get repetitive. With the same moral, the same type of protagonist. A merchant is greedy with his clients and gets his comeuppance, a king and people in power get outwitted by simpler folk. Almost every tale has a woman who is "beyond belief in her beauty", or a young male who is beyond handsome and almost impossible to look on either of them without falling in love. Genies interfere or help etc. They got a little predictable and a little dry by the end.