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The Arabian Nights
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Archive 08-19 GR Discussions > CC- Arabian Nights- Starts July 1!

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message 1: by Jennifer W (last edited Jul 15, 2012 04:35PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jennifer W | 2175 comments Hello ambitious classics' readers! I'm going to lead the discussion on The Arabian Nights.

Here's the breakdown. If it seems too much, let me know and we can pace it out a little more.

By July 1, be ready to discuss the beginning through "The Tale of the Ensorcelled Prince"
By July 14 read through "Tale of the Portress"
By July 28 read through "Tale of the Second Eunuch, Kafur"
By August 4 read through "Hatim of the Tribe of Tavy"
By August 18 read through "The Angel of Death With the Proud King and the Devout Man"
By September 1 read through "The City of Brass"
By September 15 read through "Julnar the Sea-Born and her Son King Badr Basim of Persia"
By September 29 read through "Story of the Lakkikin and the Cook"
By October 13 read through "Alaeddin; or The Wonderful Lamp"
By October 27 finish the book!

Most of these sections break down to about 100 pages per week. My addition is The Arabian Nights. There is no preface or introduction other than a short blurb on the man who editted the book.

I look forward to starting this book with everyone!

All the chapters in my edition of the book with pages:

Story of King Shahryar and His Brother
-Tale of the Bull and the Ass
The Fisherman and the Jinni
-Tale of the Ensorcelled Prince (up to page 57)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Porter and the 3 Ladies of Baghdad
-The 1st Kalandar's Tale
-The 2nd Kalandar's Tale
-The 3rd Kalandar's Tale
-The Eldest Lady's Tale
-Tale of the Portress (up to page 151)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tale of the 3 Apples
Tale of Nur Al-Din Alo and his Son Badr Al-Din Hasan
Tale of Ghanim Bin Ayyub, the Distraught, the Thrall O' Love
-Tale of the 1st Eunuch, Bukhayt
-Tale of the 2nd Eunuch, Kafur (up to page 253)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tale of the Birds and Beasts and the Carpenter
The Hermits
Tale of Kamar Al-Zaman
Hatim of the Tribe of Tavy (up to page 351)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tale of Ma'an Son of Zaidah and the Badawi
City of Many-Columned Iram and Abdullah Son of Abi Kalibah
The Sweep and the Noble Lady
Ali the Persian
The Man Who Stole the Dish of Gold Wherein the Dog Ate
The Ruined Man Who Became Rich Again Through a Dream
The Ebon Horse
How Abu Hasan Brake Wind
The Angel of Death with the Proud King and the Devout Man (up to page 413)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Sindbad the Seaman and Sindbad the Landsman
-1st Voyage of Sindbad Hight the Seaman
-2nd Voyage of Sindbad the Seaman
-3rd Voyage of Sindbad the Seaman
-4th Voyage of Sindbad the Seaman
-5th Voyage of Sindbad the Seaman
-6th Voyage of Sindbad the Seaman
-7th Voyage of Sindbad the Seaman
The City of Brass (up to 528)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Lady and her 5 Suitors
Judar and his Brethren
Julnar the Sea-born and her Son King Badr Basim of Persia (up to page 630)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Khalifah the Fisherman of Baghdad
Abu Kir the Dyer and Abu Sir the Barber
The Sleeper and the Walker
-Story of the Larrikin and the Cook (up to page 730)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Alaeddin; Or, the Wonderful Lamp (up to page 837)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ali Baba and the 40 Theives
Ma'aruf the Cobbler and his Wife Fatimah
Conclusion


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I am going to try and join in on this book, Jennifer. Thanks for posting the schedule!


Jennifer W | 2175 comments Some background:

Origins of the Arabian Nights

The stories of the Arabian Nights were written by many people over the course of hundreds of years. The core of original stories came out of Persia and India in the early eighth century. They were translated into Arabic and given the name Alf Layla or The Thousand Nights. This set of stories was few in number and fell far short of living up to the number in its title.

In Iraq in the ninth or tenth century, a group of Arab stories were added. This new group probably contained the tales that refer to Caliph Harun al-Rashid. Also, in the period immediately after this, several tales that had previously existed outside of the Nights were incorporated into the main body of the tales.

Starting the 13th century, another group of tales was added, these of Syrian or Egyptian origin. In "modern" times, additional tales were added (by Galland, for example), and the total was brought up to the number given in the title.

Their Current Form

Several early manuscripts of the Nights survive. The oldest is a single page fragment that dates to the ninth century. The next oldest is a three-volume Syrian manuscript in the Paris Bibliotheque Nationale (MSS arabes 3609-11) that dates from the early 14th century (this article discusses the Galland's manuscript in detail). Galland used this manuscript for his groundbreaking translation in the early 1700's, which introduced the Nights to Europe (although he used other sources as well). The exact orgins of this manuscript are unknown.

Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall (1774-1856) discovered another manuscript in Cairo and used it for his tranlation of the Nights into French in 1804-1806. This manuscript and his translation were subsequently lost, but a German translation of his work survives. (view spoiler)

Four Arabic printed texts survive, known as Calcutta I (1814-1818), Breslau (1824-1843), Bulaq (1835) and Calcutta II (1839-1842). The origins and pedigrees of these texts are in dispute. In particular the Breslau text was probably pieced together by its creator, Maximilian Habicht, from various other texts. Modern scholars find the Bulaq text the most significant.

All of these texts have been the basis for various translations. After Galland, three translations stand out as the basis for Victorian-era works. Lane's translation, dating from 1839, was the definitive translation until Payne's translation, which started appearing in 1882. Lastly, Richard Burton published his translation in 1885.

Lane's translation is rather expurgated, suited for polite 19th century British society. Payne tried to include the questionable parts of the stories by rewording them, skirting the offensive parts of the stories. Both Lane and Payne avoided translating the verse and songs that were in the original manuscripts. Burton pulled out all the stops. Not only did he tackle odd sexual customs, scatological humor and scandalous behaviour, but he translated the verse and song as well. Many, however, feel that Burton's rather literal and curiously worded translation goes overboard, seeking out anything perverse or wierd (and his footnotes go into great detail about oriental customes - sexual practices in particular). There are also claims that Burton's translation is racist (and you could make similar claims about Payne and Lane), but it's probably more accurate to say that their work reflects the culture of their time.

Today, the translation by Husain Haddawy is considered by many to be the best English translation. His translation has been described as "direct, modern and thrilling".

from arabiannightsbooks.com


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Becca (bouka22) | 2 comments Thanks for all the info. I've dug out my copy of the Arabian Nights, which I've never given myself the chance to enjoy. It will be this summer!


message 5: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I was trying to look through this book on my kindle, and was getting frustrated at trying to bookmark each story, and figure out how far I was going to have to read each week, so I decided I might need a real "dead tree" copy of this book, for easier page flipping and post-it note marking. So I've ordered a used copy of this, and hopefully I will have it here soon to get started.

Looking forward to a great discussion. :o)


Irene | 4030 comments Thanks for the background. This looks like a fun read.


message 7: by Cathy (new)

Cathy (cattylou) Thanks for posting the background information, very interesting to me! I plan on trying to read this as well since I never have and have a free copy on my Nook.


message 8: by Donna (new)

Donna | 31 comments Well, since I currently live in Arabia, I suppose I should take the opportunity to actually read this with you all! Sounds fun :) (It's actually one of my daughter's favorite books.)

Is anyone else reading off a Kindle? If so, what edition?


message 9: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I bought this version for kindle for $4.61 a couple months ago, but now it says it is no longer available for customers in the US. But it might be available in other countries. It is the version that matched the book Jennifer has.

http://www.amazon.com/Thousand-ARABIA...

It has an active table of contents, so you can go to any book or chapter. I broke down though and ordered a used paper copy to use also, just because I have an easier time in books this big, with this many separate stories and chapters, to be able to actually see where I am, and flip pages.


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Becca (bouka22) | 2 comments I have a paperback copy from the Modern Library - it has the same cover as the icon above, translated by Burton and an introduction by Byatt. The contents matched up with Jennifer's schedule. It is available at B&N as a Nook book but I haven't checked Amazon. There seemed to be lots of versions out there though.


message 11: by Donna (new)

Donna | 31 comments I ended up getting this one:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Arabian-Nig...

Haven't had a chance to look at it yet to see how it syncs with Jennifer's, but I'll figure something out. Really looking forward to this read!


message 12: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Ok, this should be an interesting discussion!
I read this week's reading, and I am wondering if many (or all) of the short stories in this book are going to be following similar themes? Hmm....


Jennifer W | 2175 comments It's July! I'm excited to begin discussing this book with everyone.

The start of the book tells the story of the 2 King brothers and how they discover their respective wives are cheating on them. They also meet up with the wife of a Jinni, and even she is capable of cheating on her husband. King Shahryar decides that women are not to be trusted and so begins a reign of terror by marrying and sleeping with a woman only to have her executed the next day. Were you at all familiar with this part of the story?

Shahrazad then volunteers herself for marriage to the King and plans to use herself as ransom to keep other women safe. What are we being lead to believe about women?


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Totally have the wrong edition (free kindle one)...mine started with The Talking Bird story. Off to the library tomorrow to see if I can get the correct hard cover book.


message 15: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Marialyce, there is a kindle version of the Richard Burton translation, but it isn't free.
In fact, the kindle version that I bought just a few months ago (when this book was first picked) is no longer available:
http://www.amazon.com/Thousand-ARABIA...
This version does exactly match the paper version though (I bought a copy of that too). Amazon does now link to a different kindle version, but it is $7.99, and doesn't specifically say it is translated by Burton.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Arabian-Nig...

For anyone interested, they might want to get a free sample of the book first, and make sure it is the Burton translation which starts with the story Jennifer mentions.


message 16: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Jennifer,
I had no idea that the beginning of this book was part of the story. To be honest, the only thing I really knew about Arabian Nights was more a Disney magic carpet ride version! LOL

So all the "women cannot be trusted" and "sleep with women and then kill them" and all the other misogyny in the beginning caught me a little off guard. :o)
I will be interested to see if women are hated throughout this whole book.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Sheila wrote: "Marialyce, there is a kindle version of the Richard Burton translation, but it isn't free.
In fact, the kindle version that I bought just a few months ago (when this book was first picked) is no lo..."


Thanks, Sheila! I put in a request for the Burton edition at the library. Hopefully, it will arrive in a few days.


Irene | 4030 comments Yes, I was familiar with the opening setting for the story, not the details but the premise.

I am finding the negative portrayal of women disconcerting. They are either unfaithful or objects of lust. The unfaithful wives are all depicted as becoming near sex slaves to their adulterous lovers and those lovers are all described as base creatures. I also was shocked by the racism. Can we say patriarchal society?


Jennifer W | 2175 comments Marialyce wrote: "Totally have the wrong edition (free kindle one)...mine started with The Talking Bird story. Off to the library tomorrow to see if I can get the correct hard cover book."

Would it help if I listed all of the chapters?


Jennifer W | 2175 comments I knew that Shahrazad told the stories to save her life, but I didn't know what had lead to the King to killing his wives in the first place.

I was a little surprised at the race in "The Tale of the Ensorcelled Prince" The wife/witch was commented as being white. Is that a fact of the translator, Burton? I would not picture many, if any, of our characters being white. Thus far, I believe all of the men that the adulterous women are sleeping with are black or "blackamoor." I also wonder if this is due to the views of the translator. Otherwise, if I were the men in these stories, I'd wonder, "maybe it's not our wives, it's us?"


message 21: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Interesting comments, Jennifer.

I am thinking that the "Arabs" in the stories are considered to be "white", so when the women are sleeping with the black or blackamoor men, they are sleeping with the dark skinned slaves, etc.

I just searched for any confirmation of arabians being considered white, and the wikipedia article on "white people" say that basically the ideal color during the time period these stories were written was not too white or not too black:

Similar views were held by a number of Arabic writers during the time of the medieval Caliphate period. Some Arabs at the time viewed their "swarthy" skin as the ideal skin tone, in comparison to the darker Sub-Saharan Africans and the fairer "ruddy people" (which included Levantines, Persians, Turks, North Caucasians, South Caucasian and Europeans).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_pe...

So maybe the men in the stories were the preferred "swarthy" color, their wives were a less desirable "white", and the men their wives had affairs with were the less desirable "blackamoor"??? (just guessing here)


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Donna | 31 comments Marialyce, I'm using this version:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Arabian-Nig...

It isn't the Burton translation. It's apparently based on on older French translation of the Arabic. It's easier reading than the Burton translation (I'm cheating, I guess - lol), but it's missing some of the stories, and it has different titles for the ones it does have.

If you go to the Kindle link for Jennifer's translation and click on the book cover, it brings up an e-book with a table of contents. I'm using that to figure out which story is which and read the stories mine doesn't have.

http://www.amazon.com/Thousand-ARABIA...

Mine doesn't seem to be quite as blatantly racist as the Burton translation, but the women are still depicted as jealous, conniving and untrustworthy for the most part. But I find it interesting that Shahrazad herself doesn't seem that way. To the contrary, she seems highly intelligent and courageous, don't you think?

I found Sheila's comment about the "ideal" skin color interesting. Today's Arab world is obsessed with being white (especially women). The tv is crammed with ads for skin lightening creams and light-skinned, light-haired women are considered highly desirable as marriage prospects.


Irene | 4030 comments And, so far, all the "black" characters are physically ugly, even deformed and beastial in their behavior. There is nothing in their depiction that would seem to make them sexually attractive to a woman. I suppose that if the marriage was arranged and there was no physical passion between the husband and the unfaithful wife, the passion might be a consideration. But, in the story of the enchanted prince, he seemed passionate and solisitious to that woman who was just horrid toward him.


Jennifer W | 2175 comments Thanks for looking that up on race, Shelia, I think your reasoning makes a lot of sense.

That's true, too Irene. They are all described as being hideous in some form or another.

I wonder why Shahrazad (or the editor) would start off our stories with the Ensorcelled Prince. Is this a warning to the King? A warning to the reader? It might make more sense as I read more tales. Or maybe it was just a case of "we have to start somewhere."


Irene | 4030 comments According to the intro in my book, these were independant folk tales that became compiled. In a patriarchial society, I suspect that the compilation was done by a male. So, this may say something about the negative image of women held by the intellectual elite of the society of Medieval Arabia. I am surprised to see so much sorcery in a literary body rooted in Muslim thought. Obviously, these tales are more ancient than the birth of Islam. I love the idea that I am hearing stories that may have survived more than 1,000 years of telling.


message 26: by Donna (new)

Donna | 31 comments The belief in sorcery, its evils and its prevention is actually a part of Muslim thought, Irene, even in the modern day. Muslims are liberal with the phrase, "masha Allah" (it is the will of God)and recitation of chapters of the Qur'an in order to protect themselves and others from evil intentions and black magic. So it's not really surprising that this is a part of the regional folklore.

What's surprising to me is the blatant misogyny after the advent of Islam which actually gave women a whole lot more respect and rights than they previously enjoyed. Just proves that cultural attitudes die hard.


Irene | 4030 comments Donna, Thank you for that info. I guess I don't know as much as I should about one of the major world's religions. I made assumptions that because Judiasm and Christianity, the other major monotheistic religions closely related to Islam, did not accept majic as a reality that neither did Islam.

In the story with the colored fish, each represented a different religious group in that society: Muslim, Jew, Nazareen (I assume Christian), but does anyone know/recognize that fourth group?


message 28: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Jennifer W wrote: "Would it help if I listed all of the chapters? "

Since there are so many stories involved in this book, and several different translations, it might be helpful to list each week which stories we are discussing for that week, so everyone stays on the same page. :o)


message 29: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
And for those who don't have a Burton copy of this book yet, I just found a free online version.

http://www.wollamshram.ca/1001/index.htm

This website appears to have several versions, but on the left side of the page you will see that it says "Richard Burton" and underneath it has number links to click to get to all 16 books in the Burton translation of this work.

On each volume (after you click on a number) it also then brings up another table of contents for that volume on the left side of the page. Such as here is for volume 1 (which we are currently in) and it shows all the stories in this part of the book on the left side:

http://www.wollamshram.ca/1001/Vol_1/...

So for this week, we are discussing:

The Translators Forward

Story Of King Shahryar and His Brother
Tale of the Bull and the Ass
Tale of the Trader and the Jinni
The First Shaykh’s Story
The Second Shaykh’s Story
The Third Shaykh’s Story


The Fisherman and the Jinni
Tale of the Wazir and the Sage Duban
Story of King Sindibad and His Falcon
Tale of the Husband and the Parrot
Tale of the Prince and the Ogress
Tale of the Ensorcelled Prince


message 30: by Cassie (new)

Cassie | 487 comments Oh, I so want to read this, but I can't commit the time right now... :(


Jennifer W | 2175 comments Sheila, that's not what my copy has at all!

For July 1st, I read:

Story of King Shahryar and His Brother
-Tale of the Bull and the Ass
The Fisherman and the Jinni
-Tale of the Ensorcelled Prince (up to page 57)

For this week's reading, I have:

The Porter and the 3 Ladies of Baghdad
-The 1st Kalandar's Tale
-The 2nd Kalandar's Tale
-The 3rd Kalandar's Tale
-The Eldest Lady's Tale
-Tale of the Portress (up to page 151)

Funny that all of our books are so different!

This weekend when I have time, I'll go through and add all of the chapters in my version to my first post.

Who knew I had nominated such a complicated book?!


message 32: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Are you sure they are not the same, Jennifer?

I just checked the website, and many of those are basically sub-stories of the stories, such as The Fisherman and the Jinni is broken down like this:

The Fisherman and the Jinni
a)Tale of the Wazir and the Sage Duban
i)Story of King Sindibad and His Falcon
ii)Tale of the Husband and the Parrot
iii)Tale of the Prince and the Ogress
b)Tale of the Ensorcelled Prince

My kindle copy has all of this in it. What was in your Fisherman and Jinni story? Did you get the story of the King and his falcon (which only took up 2 pages on the kindle) where the hawk warns the king about venom dripping off a tree, but the king gets mad and cuts off the falcon's wing and it dies, even though it saved his life? Or the parrot that warns the man of his cheating wife, and he kills the bird before finding out it was telling the truth (or something like that)? :o)

What you posted for this week's reading matches what is online for the Burton text up to the tale of the portress.

I only have my kindle copy with me now so I can't check my paper copy, but I thought they matched? I could be wrong. I seem to recall having the post-ot note bookmark in my paper copy being at about page 57 though. I won't be able to check for sure till Friday.

If these are different, it will definately be easier if we know exactly which chapters of stories to read! As you said, who knew this one would be so complicated!


message 33: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (last edited Jul 04, 2012 07:41AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Ok, looking at my kindle copy again, (which matches the online Burton copy), I think this version is WAY longer than the hardcover version I have at home. There are 16 Volumes in the ebook and online book, and adding up the page counts for each volume, it comes to over 5600 pages!!! Yikes! I think I will STOP reading my kindle version...because I will never finish it if it is 5600 pages long! :o)

The hardcover version that I have on my shelves here on Goodreads (which I matched by isbn to my actual book) is listed as 'only' 960 pages. So apparently there is the Burton BOOK version, and the Burton ENCYCLOPEDIA SET version! LOL


message 34: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Yep, apparently you can buy a complete set of these stories in 16 hardcover volumes. Here are some listings on abeboks. Get your set for the low low price of around $20,000! LOL!

http://www.abebooks.com/book-search/t...


Jennifer W | 2175 comments Haha! I'll get right on that Sheila. As you've probably figured out, my copy does not contain those sub-stories. For example, the only sub-story in the Fisherman and the Jinni was the Tale of the Ensorcelled Prince (by the way, I love the word "ensorcelled" and will have to incorporate it into my vocabulary!).

I will still go back and post all the stories and their sub stories in my initial post so that if someone is reading it in another format, they can still follow along based on chapter titles.


Cassie, I'm sorry you don't have time to read this with us now, but please come back and post your thoughts when you get a chance!


Irene | 4030 comments Sheila, that 16 volume version is the one written by Joyce. If you check it out, I think you will see that it contains only eight sentences to correspond with the 8 times Bloom pleasured himself. Each volume reflects a different writting style (e.g. stream of consciousness, drunken babbling and the shreaking of frustrated readers). LOL


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Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Irene wrote: "Sheila, that 16 volume version is the one written by Joyce. If you check it out, I think you will see that it contains only eight sentences to correspond with the 8 times Bloom pleasured himself. ..."

LOL Irene! Yes, the 16 Volume, 5600+ page version just might have been written by James Joyce. (For everyone who is confused, we are joking, and this is a reference to the just finished group read of Ulysses).


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Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Jennifer W wrote: "Haha! I'll get right on that Sheila. As you've probably figured out, my copy does not contain those sub-stories."

Yeah, I guess I should have paid more attention when I bought my kindle copy...the fact that the description did say "all 16 volumes" should have raised a warning! LOL
No wonder it took so long for the darned thing to load onto my kindle. Now I'm really glad I went ahead and ordered the paper copy (which is the same as the copy you had previously listed).

It's funny though, on my kindle I had highlighted passages from the story about the falcon, and the story about the parrot, and was going to comment on them. You all would have been saying "what in the heck is she talking about?!?" LOL

And for anyone who does ever feel like reading all 5600+ pages of all 16 volumes, the website I had previously listed has them all there to read for free online. :o)


Jennifer W | 2175 comments Sorry I'm a little behind in my reading. I hope to be caught up by this evening.

One thing I am noticing in this section is a lot of verse, songs and poems. Do these enhance the story for you?


message 40: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
I'm a little behind too, Jennifer, but I'm now back with my paper copy, so I'm not reading all the extra stuff! :o)

As to the verse, songs, and poems, they are not impressing me for some reason. For me, they just seem to drag things out. Maybe it is because I feel like I'm behind, and am trying to get it read, and they slow me down. :o)


Irene | 4030 comments The verses do not enhance the reading experience, for me. But, I realize why this would be critical to an oral culture. It is so much easier to transmit a song than prose when relying on memory. If these are a compilation of oral folktales, I suspect verse would be critical to that process. And, the narrator is telling the king stories that she came across in her extensive reading. So, verse would be a terrific memory aid there also.

I will be out of the conversation for a week. I am traveling to Jersey to visit my mother and will not be able to use a computer.


Jennifer W | 2175 comments I'm caught up to where I should have been yesterday. I really enjoyed the Kalandar's tales. I wonder that they all involved someone being trapped under ground. I also think these are the first tales that mention being unable to escape fate, which is a big part of the Muslim faith, "if Allah wills it."

I agree that all the verses are a distraction. I agree, Irene, they probably are a memory tool. They also could be to show how educated Shahrazad is (like dropping lines of Shakespeare into a modern novel).

I hope you enjoy your time in Jersey, rejoin us when you get back!


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Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
So what is the underlying meaning behind this group of stories? It all seemed to end with a "they all lived happily every after" ending. Is there some great meaning to the stories of all these people that I am missing?

Irene, have a great trip, and please rejoin us when you get back.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I have gotten through the first section and must say, being a woman certainly was a risk to life and limb. There just seems to be such an undercurrent of how utterly sexually intent these women were. I guess their husbands were not at all fulfilling their needs and desires. Interesting that the men they chose to dally with were those of dark body and nature so that any of the Arab men would be pardoned and thought to not even consider being with someone other than their wives.

It kind of made these men rather saintly don't you think?


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Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
Marialyce wrote: "It kind of made these men rather saintly don't you think?"

I'm getting the impression that all these stories were probably written by men. :o)


Jennifer W | 2175 comments What I find interesting thus far, though, is that while the women may be adulterous, they have yet to be portrayed as stupid. In fact, they seem to be quite smart.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) and a bit magical too!


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Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
ensorcelled!

Good point, Jennifer. Yes, the women are not portrayed as stupid.


message 49: by Donna (new)

Donna | 31 comments The songs and poems don't enhance the experience for me personally, but they definitely would have for the original audience. Poetry is highly appreciated in the Arab culture.

My impression is that the women are largely being portrayed as conniving, manipulative and even dangerous (certainly not stupid) and the poor men are at their mercy. I really didn't like the Ensorcelled Prince story at all. The wife was portrayed as so evil and cruel and the prince (who seemed to be a real whimp IMO)was to be pitied until he got his HEA after her demise. Maybe I'm being harsh here - lol- but that was my overall feeling!

The woman I did admire was the princess who battled the jinni in the kalandar's tale. Now that was pretty epic! Interesting that it's the women who seem to have all the magical knowledge and powers though - again, dangerous!

There seems to be a theme about the evils of succumbing to temptation, and I thought it was interesting (as someone else pointed out) that all of the kalandars' tales had a subterranean setting - hidden trap doors and secret stairways leading to magnificent rooms in the bowels of the earth. I also noticed that the number 40 seemed to recur in the third kalandar's tale. I wonder if there is a significance to these things.


message 50: by Donna (new)

Donna | 31 comments I got a bit behind on the reading. Just finished the Portress. What do you all think of the ending where the one sister is returned to the husband who threatened her life and then severely beat her? I guess it was meant as an HEA ending because she was forgiven for her horrible mistake. But of course, nothing is said of his extreme jealousy and abuse.

Kinda reminds me of the Rumpelstiltskin fairytale where her HEA is marrying the king who threatened to kill her every night if she couldn't spin the straw into gold. Please!!!


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