One Thousand and One Nights (Arabic: أَلْف لَيْلَة وَلَيْلَة, translit. ʾAlf layla wa-layla) is a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age. It is often known in English as the Arabian Nights, from the first English-language edition (c. 1706 – c. 1721), which rendered the title as The Arabian Nights' Entertainment.
The work was collected over many centuries by various authors, translators, and scholars across West, Central, and South Asia and North Africa. Some tales themselves trace their roots back to ancient and medieval Arabic, Persian, Greek, Indian, Jewish and Turkish folklore and literature. In particular, many tales were originally folk stories from the Abbasid and Mamluk eras, while others, especially the frame story, are most probably drawn from the Pahlavi Persian work Hezār Afsān (Persian: هزار افسان, lit. A Thousand Tales), which in turn relied partly on Indian elements.
What is common throughout all the editions of the Nights is the initial frame story of the ruler Shahryār and his wife Scheherazade and the framing device incorporated throughout the tales themselves. The stories proceed from this original tale; some are framed within other tales, while others begin and end of their own accord. Some editions contain only a few hundred nights, while others include 1,001 or more. The bulk of the text is in prose, although verse is occasionally used for songs and riddles and to express heightened emotion. Most of the poems are single couplets or quatrains, although some are longer.
Some of the stories commonly associated with The Nights, in particular "Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp", "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves", and "The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor", were not part of The Nights in its original Arabic versions but were added to the collection by Antoine Galland and other European translators.
The main frame story concerns Shahryār (Arabic: شهريار, from Middle Persian šahr-dār, lit. "holder of realm"), whom the narrator calls a "Sasanian king" ruling in "India and China". Shahryār is shocked to learn that his brother's wife is unfaithful; discovering that his own wife's infidelity has been even more flagrant, he has her killed. In his bitterness and grief, he decides that all women are the same. Shahryār begins to marry a succession of virgins only to execute each one the next morning, before she has a chance to dishonor him. Eventually the vizier, whose duty it is to provide them, cannot find any more virgins. Scheherazade (Persian/ Farsi: شهْرزاد Shahrazād, from Middle Persian čehr شهر, "lineage" + āzād ازاد, "noble"), the vizier's daughter, offers herself as the next bride and her father reluctantly agrees. On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale, but does not end it. The king, curious about how the story ends, is thus forced to postpone her execution in order to hear the conclusion. The next night, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins another one, and the king, eager to hear the conclusion of that tale as well, postpones her execution once again. This goes on for one thousand and one nights, hence the name.
The tales vary widely: they include historical tales, love stories, tragedies, comedies, poems, burlesques, and various forms of erotica. Numerous stories depict jinns, ghouls, apes, sorcerers, magicians, and legendary places, which are often intermingled with real people and geography, not always rationally. Common protagonists include the historical Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid, his Grand Vizier, Jafar al-Barmaki, and the famous poet Abu Nuwas, despite the fact that these figures lived some 200 years after the fall of the Sassanid Empire, in which the frame tale of Scheherazade is set. Sometimes a character in Scheherazade's tale will begin telling other characters a story of his own, and that story may have another one told within it, resulting in a richly layered narrative texture.
The different versions have different individually detailed endings (in some Scheherazade asks for a pardon, in some the king sees their children and decides not to execute his wife, in some other things happen that make the king distracted) but they all end with the king giving his wife a pardon and sparing her life.
The narrator's standards for what constitutes a cliffhanger seem broader than in modern literature. While in many cases a story is cut off with the hero in danger of losing his life or another kind of deep trouble, in some parts of the full text Scheherazade stops her narration in the middle of an exposition of abstract philosophical principles or complex points of Islamic philosophy, and in one case during a detailed description of human anatomy according to Galen—and in all these cases turns out to be justified in her belief that the king's curiosity about the sequel would buy her another day of life.
The history of the Nights is extremely complex and modern scholars have made many attempts to untangle the story of how the collection as it currently exists came about. Robert Irwin summarises their findings:
In the 1880s and 1890s a lot of work was done on the Nights by Zotenberg and others, in the course of which a consensus view of the history of the text emerged. Most scholars agreed that the Nights was a composite work and that the earliest tales in it came from India and Persia. At some time, probably in the early 8th century, these tales were translated into Arabic under the title Alf Layla, or 'The Thousand Nights'. This collection then formed the basis of The Thousand and One Nights. The original core of stories was quite small. Then, in Iraq in the 9th or 10th century, this original core had Arab stories added to it—among them some tales about the Caliph Harun al-Rashid. Also, perhaps from the 10th century onwards, previously independent sagas and story cycles were added to the compilation [...] Then, from the 13th century onwards, a further layer of stories was added in Syria and Egypt, many of these showing a preoccupation with sex, magic or low life. In the early modern period yet more stories were added to the Egyptian collections so as to swell the bulk of the text sufficiently to bring its length up to the full 1,001 nights of storytelling promised by the book's title.
Devices found in Sanskrit literature such as frame stories and animal fables are seen by some scholars as lying at the root of the conception of the Nights. The motif of the wise young woman who delays and finally removes an impending danger by telling stories has been traced back to Indian sources. Indian folklore is represented in the Nights by certain animal stories, which reflect influence from ancient Sanskrit fables. The influence of the Panchatantra and Baital Pachisi is particularly notable. The Jataka Tales are a collection of 547 Buddhist stories, which are for the most part moral stories with an ethical purpose. The Tale of the Bull and the Ass and the linked Tale of the Merchant and his Wife are found in the frame stories of both the Jataka and the Nights.
It is possible that the influence of the Panchatantra is via a Sanskrit adaptation called the Tantropakhyana. Only fragments of the original Sanskrit form of this work exist, but translations or adaptations exist in Tamil, Lao, Thai and Old Javanese. The frame story is particularly interesting, as it follows the broad outline of a concubine telling stories in order to maintain the interest and favour of a king—although the basis of the collection of stories is from the Panchatantra—with its original Indian setting.
The Panchatantra and various tales from Jatakas were first translated into Persian by Borzūya in 570 CE, they were later translated into Arabic by Ibn al-Muqaffa in 750 CE. The Arabic version was translated into several languages, including Syriac, Greek, Hebrew and Spanish.
The earliest mentions of the Nights refer to it as an Arabic translation from a Persian book, Hezār Afsān (or Afsaneh or Afsana), meaning "The Thousand Stories". In the 10th century Ibn al-Nadim compiled a catalogue of books (the "Fihrist") in Baghdad. He noted that the Sassanid kings of Iran enjoyed "evening tales and fables". Al-Nadim then writes about the Persian Hezār Afsān, explaining the frame story it employs: a bloodthirsty king kills off a succession of wives after their wedding night; eventually one has the intelligence to save herself by telling him a story every evening, leaving each tale unfinished until the next night so that the king will delay her execution. However, according to al-Nadim, the book contains only 200 stories. He also writes disparagingly of the collection's literary quality, observing that "it is truly a coarse book, without warmth in the telling". In the same century Al-Masudi also refers to the Hezār Afsān, saying the Arabic translation is called Alf Khurafa ("A Thousand Entertaining Tales") but is generally known as Alf Layla ("A Thousand Nights"). He mentions the characters Shirāzd (Scheherazade) and Dināzād.
No physical evidence of the Hezār Afsān has survived, so its exact relationship with the existing later Arabic versions remains a mystery. Apart from the Scheherazade frame story, several other tales have Persian origins, although it is unclear how they entered the collection. These stories include the cycle of "King Jali'ad and his Wazir Shimas" and "The Ten Wazirs or the History of King Azadbakht and his Son" (derived from the 7th-century Persian Bakhtiyārnāma).
In the 1950s, the Iraqi scholar Safa Khulusi suggested (on internal rather than historical evidence) that the Persian writer Ibn al-Muqaffa' may have been responsible for the first Arabic translation of the frame story and some of the Persian stories later incorporated into the Nights. This would place genesis of the collection in the 8th century.
In the mid-20th century, the scholar Nabia Abbott found a document with a few lines of an Arabic work with the title The Book of the Tale of a Thousand Nights, dating from the 9th century. This is the earliest known surviving fragment of the Nights. The first reference to the Arabic version under its full title The One Thousand and One Nights appears in Cairo in the 12th century. Professor Dwight Reynolds describes the subsequent transformations of the Arabic version:
Some of the earlier Persian tales may have survived within the Arabic tradition altered such that Arabic Muslim names and new locations were substituted for pre-Islamic Persian ones, but it is also clear that whole cycles of Arabic tales were eventually added to the collection and apparently replaced most of the Persian materials. One such cycle of Arabic tales centres around a small group of historical figures from 9th-century Baghdad, including the caliph Harun al-Rashid (died 809), his vizier Jafar al-Barmaki (d. 803) and the licentious poet Abu Nuwas (d. c. 813). Another cluster is a body of stories from late medieval Cairo in which are mentioned persons and places that date to as late as the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
Two main Arabic manuscript traditions of the Nights are known: the Syrian and the Egyptian. The Syrian tradition includes the oldest manuscripts; these versions are also much shorter and include fewer tales. It is represented in print by the so-called Calcutta I (1814–1818) and most notably by the Leiden edition (1984), which is based above all on the Galland manuscript. It is believed to be the purest expression of the style of the mediaeval Arabian Nights.
Texts of the Egyptian tradition emerge later and contain many more tales of much more varied content; a much larger number of originally independent tales have been incorporated into the collection over the centuries, most of them after the Galland manuscript was written, and were being included as late as in the 18th and 19th centuries, perhaps in order to attain the eponymous number of 1001 nights. The final product of this tradition, the so-called Zotenberg Egyptian Recension, does contain 1001 nights and is reflected in print, with slight variations, by the editions known as the Bulaq (1835) and the Macnaghten or Calcutta II (1839–1842).
All extant substantial versions of both recensions share a small common core of tales:
The texts of the Syrian recension do not contain much beside that core. It is debated which of the Arabic recensions is more "authentic" and closer to the original: the Egyptian ones have been modified more extensively and more recently, and scholars such as Muhsin Mahdi have suspected that this may have been caused in part by European demand for a "complete version"; but it appears that this type of modification has been common throughout the history of the collection, and independent tales have always been added to it.
The first European version (1704–1717) was translated into French by Antoine Galland from an Arabic text of the Syrian recension and other sources. This 12-volume work, Les Mille et une nuits, contes arabes traduits en français ("The Thousand and one nights, Arab stories translated into French"), included stories that were not in the original Arabic manuscript. "Aladdin's Lamp", and "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" (as well as several other lesser-known tales) appeared first in Galland's translation and cannot be found in any of the original manuscripts. He wrote that he heard them from a Syrian Christian storyteller from Aleppo, a Maronite scholar whom he called "Hanna Diab." Galland's version of the Nights was immensely popular throughout Europe, and later versions were issued by Galland's publisher using Galland's name without his consent.
As scholars were looking for the presumed "complete" and "original" form of the Nights, they naturally turned to the more voluminous texts of the Egyptian recension, which soon came to be viewed as the "standard version". The first translations of this kind, such as that of Edward Lane (1840, 1859), were bowdlerized. Unabridged and unexpurgated translations were made, first by John Payne, under the title The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night (1882, nine volumes), and then by Sir Richard Francis Burton, entitled The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (1885, ten volumes) – the latter was, according to some assessments, partially based on the former, leading to charges of plagiarism. In view of the sexual imagery in the source texts (which Burton emphasized even further, especially by adding extensive footnotes and appendices on Oriental sexual mores) and the strict Victorian laws on obscene material, both of these translations were printed as private editions for subscribers only, rather than published in the usual manner. Burton's original 10 volumes were followed by a further six (seven in the Baghdad Edition and perhaps others) entitled The Supplemental Nights to the Thousand Nights and a Night, which were printed between 1886 and 1888. It has, however, been criticized for its "archaic language and extravagant idiom" and "obsessive focus on sexuality" (and has even been called an "eccentric ego-trip" and a "highly personal reworking of the text").
Later versions of the Nights include that of the French doctor J. C. Mardrus, issued from 1898 to 1904. It was translated into English by Powys Mathers, and issued in 1923. Like Payne's and Burton's texts, it is based on the Egyptian recension and retains the erotic material, indeed expanding on it, but it has been criticized for inaccuracy.
A notable recent version, which reverts to the Syrian recension, is a critical edition based on the 14th- or 15th-century Syrian manuscript in the Bibliothèque Nationale, originally used by Galland. This version, known as the Leiden text, was compiled in Arabic by Muhsin Mahdi (1984) and rendered into English by Husain Haddawy (1990). Mahdi argued that this version is the earliest extant one (a view that is largely accepted today) and that it reflects most closely a "definitive" coherent text ancestral to all others that he believed to have existed during the Mamluk period (a view that remains contentious). Still, even scholars who deny this version the exclusive status of "the only real Arabian Nights" recognize it as being the best source on the original style and linguistic form of the mediaeval work and praise the Haddawy translation as "very readable" and "strongly recommended for anyone who wishes to taste the authentic flavour of those tales". An additional second volume of Arabian nights translated by Haddawy, composed of popular tales not present in the Leiden edition, was published in 1995.
In 2008 a new English translation was published by Penguin Classics in three volumes. It is translated by Malcolm C. Lyons and Ursula Lyons with introduction and annotations by Robert Irwin. This is the first complete translation of the Macnaghten or Calcutta II edition (Egyptian recension) since Burton's. It contains, in addition to the standard text of 1001 Nights, the so-called "orphan stories" of Aladdin and Ali Baba as well as an alternative ending to The seventh journey of Sindbad from Antoine Galland's original French. As the translator himself notes in his preface to the three volumes, "[N]o attempt has been made to superimpose on the translation changes that would be needed to 'rectify' ... accretions, ... repetitions, non sequiturs and confusions that mark the present text," and the work is a "representation of what is primarily oral literature, appealing to the ear rather than the eye". The Lyons translation includes all the poetry (in plain prose paraphrase) but does not attempt to reproduce in English the internal rhyming of some prose sections of the original Arabic. Moreover, it streamlines somewhat and has cuts. In this sense it is not, as claimed, a complete translation.
هزار ره صفت هفت خوان و رويين دژ
A thousand times, accounts of Rouyin Dezh and Haft Khān
The One Thousand and One Nights and various tales within it make use of many innovative literary techniques, which the storytellers of the tales rely on for increased drama, suspense, or other emotions. Some of these date back to earlier Persian, Indian and Arabic literature, while others were original to the One Thousand and One Nights.
An early example of the frame story, or framing device, is employed in the One Thousand and One Nights, in which the character Scheherazade narrates a set of tales (most often fairy tales) to the Sultan Shahriyar over many nights. Many of Scheherazade's tales are also frame stories, such as the Tale of Sindbad the Seaman and Sindbad the Landsman being a collection of adventures related by Sindbad the Seaman to Sindbad the Landsman.
An early example of the "story within a story" technique can be found in the One Thousand and One Nights, which can be traced back to earlier Persian and Indian storytelling traditions, most notably the Panchatantra of ancient Sanskrit literature. The Nights, however, improved on the Panchatantra in several ways, particularly in the way a story is introduced. In the Panchatantra, stories are introduced as didactic analogies, with the frame story referring to these stories with variants of the phrase "If you're not careful, that which happened to the louse and the flea will happen to you." In the Nights, this didactic framework is the least common way of introducing the story, but instead, a story is most commonly introduced through subtle means, particularly as an answer to questions raised in a previous tale.
The general story is narrated by an unknown narrator, and in this narration the stories are told by Scheherazade. In most of Scheherazade's narrations there are also stories narrated, and even in some of these, there are some other stories. This is particularly the case for the "Sinbad the Sailor" story narrated by Scheherazade in the One Thousand and One Nights. Within the "Sinbad the Sailor" story itself, the protagonist Sinbad the Sailor narrates the stories of his seven voyages to Sinbad the Porter. The device is also used to great effect in stories such as "The Three Apples" and "The Seven Viziers". In yet another tale Scheherazade narrates, "The Fisherman and the Jinni", the "Tale of the Wazir and the Sage Duban" is narrated within it, and within that there are three more tales narrated.
Dramatic visualization is "the representing of an object or character with an abundance of descriptive detail, or the mimetic rendering of gestures and dialogue in such a way as to make a given scene 'visual' or imaginatively present to an audience". This technique is used in several tales of the One Thousand and One Nights. An example of this is the tale of "The Three Apples" (see Crime fiction elements below).
every tale in The Thousand and One Nights begins with an 'appearance of destiny' which manifests itself through an anomaly, and one anomaly always generates another. So a chain of anomalies is set up. And the more logical, tightly knit, essential this chain is, the more beautiful the tale. By 'beautiful' I mean vital, absorbing and exhilarating. The chain of anomalies always tends to lead back to normality. The end of every tale in The One Thousand and One Nights consists of a 'disappearance' of destiny, which sinks back to the somnolence of daily life ... The protagonist of the stories is in fact destiny itself.
Though invisible, fate may be considered a leading character in the One Thousand and One Nights. The plot devices often used to present this theme are coincidence, reverse causation and the self-fulfilling prophecy (see Foreshadowing below).
Early examples of the foreshadowing technique of repetitive designation, now known as "Chekhov's gun", occur in the One Thousand and One Nights, which contains "repeated references to some character or object which appears insignificant when first mentioned but which reappears later to intrude suddenly in the narrative". A notable example is in the tale of "The Three Apples" (see Crime fiction elements below).
Another early foreshadowing technique is formal patterning, "the organization of the events, actions and gestures which constitute a narrative and give shape to a story; when done well, formal patterning allows the audience the pleasure of discerning and anticipating the structure of the plot as it unfolds". This technique is also found in One Thousand and One Nights.
Another form of foreshadowing is the self-fulfilling prophecy, which dates back to the story of Krishna in ancient Sanskrit literature, and Oedipus or the death of Heracles in the plays of Sophocles. A variation of this device is the self-fulfilling dream, which can be found in Arabic literature (or the dreams of Joseph and his conflicts with his brothers, in the Hebrew Bible). Several tales in the One Thousand and One Nights use this device to foreshadow what is going to happen, as a special form of literary prolepsis. A notable example is "The Ruined Man who Became Rich Again through a Dream", in which a man is told in his dream to leave his native city of Baghdad and travel to Cairo, where he will discover the whereabouts of some hidden treasure. The man travels there and experiences misfortune, ending up in jail, where he tells his dream to a police officer. The officer mocks the idea of foreboding dreams and tells the protagonist that he himself had a dream about a house with a courtyard and fountain in Baghdad where treasure is buried under the fountain. The man recognizes the place as his own house and, after he is released from jail, he returns home and digs up the treasure. In other words, the foreboding dream not only predicted the future, but the dream was the cause of its prediction coming true. A variant of this story later appears in English folklore as the "Pedlar of Swaffham" and Paulo Coelho's "The Alchemist"; Jorge Luis Borges' collection of short stories A Universal History of Infamy featured his translation of this particular story into Spanish, as "The Story Of The Two Dreamers."
Another variation of the self-fulfilling prophecy can be seen in "The Tale of Attaf", where Harun al-Rashid consults his library (the House of Wisdom), reads a random book, "falls to laughing and weeping and dismisses the faithful vizier Ja'far ibn Yahya from sight. Ja'afar, "disturbed and upset flees Baghdad and plunges into a series of adventures in Damascus, involving Attaf and the woman whom Attaf eventually marries." After returning to Baghdad, Ja'afar reads the same book that caused Harun to laugh and weep, and discovers that it describes his own adventures with Attaf. In other words, it was Harun's reading of the book that provoked the adventures described in the book to take place. This is an early example of reverse causation. Near the end of the tale, Attaf is given a death sentence for a crime he didn't commit but Harun, knowing the truth from what he has read in the book, prevents this and has Attaf released from prison. In the 12th century, this tale was translated into Latin by Petrus Alphonsi and included in his Disciplina Clericalis, alongside the "Sindibad" story cycle. In the 14th century, a version of "The Tale of Attaf" also appears in the Gesta Romanorum and Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron.
Leitwortstil is 'the purposeful repetition of words' in a given literary piece that "usually expresses a motif or theme important to the given story". This device occurs in the One Thousand and One Nights, which binds several tales in a story cycle. The storytellers of the tales relied on this technique "to shape the constituent members of their story cycles into a coherent whole."
Thematic patterning is "the distribution of recurrent thematic concepts and moralistic motifs among the various incidents and frames of a story. In a skillfully crafted tale, thematic patterning may be arranged so as to emphasize the unifying argument or salient idea which disparate events and disparate frames have in common". This technique is also used in the One Thousand and One Nights.
Several different variants of the "Cinderella" story, which has its origins in the Egyptian story of Rhodopis, appear in the One Thousand and One Nights, including "The Second Shaykh's Story", "The Eldest Lady's Tale" and "Abdallah ibn Fadil and His Brothers", all dealing with the theme of a younger sibling harassed by two jealous elders. In some of these, the siblings are female, while in others they are male. One of the tales, "Judar and His Brethren", departs from the happy endings of previous variants and reworks the plot to give it a tragic ending instead, with the younger brother being poisoned by his elder brothers.
The literary device of the unreliable narrator was used in several fictional medieval Arabic tales of the One Thousand and One Nights. In one tale, "The Seven Viziers" (also known as "Craft and Malice of Women or The Tale of the King, His Son, His Concubine and the Seven Wazirs"), a courtesan accuses a king's son of having assaulted her, when in reality she had failed to seduce him (inspired by the Qur'anic/Biblical story of Yusuf/Joseph). Seven viziers attempt to save his life by narrating seven stories to prove the unreliability of women, and the courtesan responds back by narrating a story to prove the unreliability of viziers. The unreliable narrator device is also used to generate suspense in "The Three Apples" and humor in "The Hunchback's Tale" (see Crime fiction elements below).
An example of the murder mystery and suspense thriller genres in the collection, with multiple plot twists and detective fiction elements was "The Three Apples", also known as Hikayat al-sabiyya 'l-maqtula ("The Tale of the Murdered Young Woman"), one of the tales narrated by Scheherazade in the One Thousand and One Nights. In this tale, Harun al-Rashid comes to possess a chest, which, when opened, contains the body of a young woman. Harun gives his vizier, Ja'far, three days to find the culprit or be executed. At the end of three days, when Ja'far is about to be executed for his failure, two men come forward, both claiming to be the murderer. As they tell their story it transpires that, although the younger of them, the woman's husband, was responsible for her death, some of the blame attaches to a slave, who had taken one of the apples mentioned in the title and caused the woman's murder. Harun then gives Ja'far three more days to find the guilty slave. When he yet again fails to find the culprit, and bids his family goodbye before his execution, he discovers by chance his daughter has the apple, which she obtained from Ja'far's own slave, Rayhan. Thus the mystery is solved.
Another Nights tale with crime fiction elements was "The Hunchback's Tale" story cycle which, unlike "The Three Apples", was more of a suspenseful comedy and courtroom drama rather than a murder mystery or detective fiction. The story is set in a fictional China and begins with a hunchback, the emperor's favourite comedian, being invited to dinner by a tailor couple. The hunchback accidentally chokes on his food from laughing too hard and the couple, fearful that the emperor will be furious, take his body to a Jewish doctor's clinic and leave him there. This leads to the next tale in the cycle, the "Tale of the Jewish Doctor", where the doctor accidentally trips over the hunchback's body, falls down the stairs with him, and finds him dead, leading him to believe that the fall had killed him. The doctor then dumps his body down a chimney, and this leads to yet another tale in the cycle, which continues with twelve tales in total, leading to all the people involved in this incident finding themselves in a courtroom, all making different claims over how the hunchback had died. Crime fiction elements are also present near the end of "The Tale of Attaf" (see Foreshadowing above).
Haunting is used as a plot device in gothic fiction and horror fiction, as well as modern paranormal fiction. Legends about haunted houses have long appeared in literature. In particular, the Arabian Nights tale of "Ali the Cairene and the Haunted House in Baghdad" revolves around a house haunted by jinns. The Nights is almost certainly the earliest surviving literature that mentions ghouls, and many of the stories in that collection involve or reference ghouls. A prime example is the story The History of Gherib and His Brother Agib (from Nights vol. 6), in which Gherib, an outcast prince, fights off a family of ravenous Ghouls and then enslaves them and converts them to Islam.
The horrific nature of Scheherazade's situation is magnified in Stephen King's Misery, in which the protagonist is forced to write a novel to keep his captor from torturing and killing him. The influence of the Nights on modern horror fiction is certainly discernible in the work of H. P. Lovecraft. As a child, he was fascinated by the adventures recounted in the book, and he attributes some of his creations to his love of the 1001 Nights.
Several stories within the One Thousand and One Nights feature early science fiction elements. One example is "The Adventures of Bulukiya", where the protagonist Bulukiya's quest for the herb of immortality leads him to explore the seas, journey to Paradise and to Hell, and travel across the cosmos to different worlds much larger than his own world, anticipating elements of galactic science fiction; along the way, he encounters societies of djinn, mermaids, talking serpents, talking trees, and other forms of life. In "Abu al-Husn and His Slave-Girl Tawaddud", the heroine Tawaddud gives an impromptu lecture on the mansions of the Moon, and the benevolent and sinister aspects of the planets.
In another 1001 Nights tale, "Abdullah the Fisherman and Abdullah the Merman", the protagonist Abdullah the Fisherman gains the ability to breathe underwater and discovers an underwater society that is portrayed as an inverted reflection of society on land, in that the underwater society follows a form of primitive communism where concepts like money and clothing do not exist. Other Arabian Nights tales also depict Amazon societies dominated by women, lost ancient technologies, advanced ancient civilizations that went astray, and catastrophes which overwhelmed them. "The City of Brass" features a group of travellers on an archaeological expedition across the Sahara to find an ancient lost city and attempt to recover a brass vessel that Solomon once used to trap a jinn, and, along the way, encounter a mummified queen, petrified inhabitants, lifelike humanoid robots and automata, seductive marionettes dancing without strings, and a brass horseman robot who directs the party towards the ancient city, which has now become a ghost town. The "Third Qalandar's Tale" also features a robot in the form of an uncanny boatman.
There is an abundance of Arabic poetry in One Thousand and One Nights. Characters occasionally provide poetry in certain settings, covering many uses. However, pleading, beseeching and praising the powerful is the most significant.
The uses would include but are not limited to:
In a typical example, expressing feelings of happiness to oneself from Night 203, Prince Qamar Al-Zaman, standing outside the castle, wants to inform Queen Bodour of his arrival. He wraps his ring in a paper and hands it to the servant who delivers it to the Queen. When she opens it and sees the ring, joy conquers her, and out of happiness she chants this poem:
وَلَقـدْ نَدِمْـتُ عَلى تَفَرُّقِ شَمْــلِنا :: دَهْـرَاً وّفاضَ الدَّمْـعُ مِنْ أَجْفـاني
وَنَـذَرْتُ إِنْ عـادَ الزَّمـانُ يَلُمـُّـنا :: لا عُــدْتُ أَذْكُــرُ فُرْقًــةً بِلِســاني
هَجَــمَ السُّــرورُ عَلَــيَّ حَتَّـى أَنَّهُ :: مِـنْ فَــرَطِ مـا سَــرَّني أَبْكــــاني
يا عَيْـنُ صـارَ الدَّمْـعُ مِنْكِ سِجْيَةً :: تَبْكيــنَ مِـنْ فَـــرَحٍ وَأَحْزانـــــي
Wa-laqad nadimtu 'alá tafarruqi shamlinā :: Dahran wa-fāḍa ad-dam'u min ajfānī
Wa-nadhartu in 'āda az-zamānu yalumanā :: la 'udtu adhkuru furqatan bilisānī
Hajama as-sarūru 'alayya ḥattá annahu :: min faraṭi mā sarranī abkānī
Yā 'aynu ṣāra ad-dam'u minki sijyatan :: tabkīna min faraḥin wa-'aḥzānī
And I have regretted the separation of our companionship :: An eon, and tears flooded my eyes
And I've sworn if time brought us back together :: I'll never utter any separation with my tongue
Joy conquered me to the point of :: which it made me happy that I cried
Oh eye, the tears out of you became a principle :: You cry out of joy and out of sadness
Burton's verse translation:
Long, long have I bewailed the sev'rance of our loves, With tears that from my lids streamed down like burning rain
And vowed that, if the days deign reunite us two, My lips should never speak of severance again:
Joy hath o'erwhelmed me so that, for the very stress Of that which gladdens me to weeping I am fain.
Tears are become to you a habit, O my eyes, So that ye weep as well for gladness as for pain.
The influence of the versions of The Nights on world literature is immense. Writers as diverse as Henry Fielding to Naguib Mahfouz have alluded to the collection by name in their own works. Other writers who have been influenced by the Nights include John Barth, Jorge Luis Borges, Salman Rushdie, Orhan Pamuk, Goethe, Walter Scott, Thackeray, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell, Nodier, Flaubert, Marcel Schwob, Stendhal, Dumas, Gérard de Nerval, Gobineau, Pushkin, Tolstoy, Hofmannsthal, Conan Doyle, W. B. Yeats, H. G. Wells, Cavafy, Calvino, Georges Perec, H. P. Lovecraft, Marcel Proust, A. S. Byatt and Angela Carter.
Various characters from this epic have themselves become cultural icons in Western culture, such as Aladdin, Sinbad and Ali Baba. Part of its popularity may have sprung from improved standards of historical and geographical knowledge. The marvelous beings and events typical of fairy tales seem less incredible if they are set further "long ago" or farther "far away"; this process culminates in the fantasy world having little connection, if any, to actual times and places. Several elements from Arabian mythology are now common in modern fantasy, such as genies, bahamuts, magic carpets, magic lamps, etc. When L. Frank Baum proposed writing a modern fairy tale that banished stereotypical elements, he included the genie as well as the dwarf and the fairy as stereotypes to go.
In 1982, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) began naming features on Saturn's moon Enceladus after characters and places in Burton's translation because "its surface is so strange and mysterious that it was given the Arabian Nights as a name bank, linking fantasy landscape with a literary fantasy".
There is little evidence that the Nights was particularly treasured in the Arab world. It is rarely mentioned in lists of popular literature and few pre-18th-century manuscripts of the collection exist. Fiction had a low cultural status among Medieval Arabs compared with poetry, and the tales were dismissed as khurafa (improbable fantasies fit only for entertaining women and children). According to Robert Irwin, "Even today, with the exception of certain writers and academics, the Nights is regarded with disdain in the Arabic world. Its stories are regularly denounced as vulgar, improbable, childish and, above all, badly written." Nevertheless, the Nights have proved an inspiration to some modern Egyptian writers, such as Tawfiq al-Hakim (author of the Symbolist play Shahrazad, 1934), Taha Hussein (Scheherazade's Dreams, 1943) and Naguib Mahfouz (Arabian Nights and Days, 1981).
Although the first known translation into a European language only appeared in 1704, it is possible that the Nights began exerting its influence on Western culture much earlier. Christian writers in Medieval Spain translated many works from Arabic, mainly philosophy and mathematics, but also Arab fiction, as is evidenced by Juan Manuel's story collection El Conde Lucanor and Ramón Llull's The Book of Beasts. Knowledge of the work, direct or indirect, apparently spread beyond Spain. Themes and motifs with parallels in the Nights are found in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales (in The Squire's Tale the hero travels on a flying brass horse) and Boccaccio's Decameron. Echoes in Giovanni Sercambi's Novelle and Ariosto's Orlando Furioso suggest that the story of Shahriyar and Shahzaman was also known. Evidence also appears to show that the stories had spread to the Balkans and a translation of the Nights into Romanian existed by the 17th century, itself based on a Greek version of the collection.
The modern fame of the Nights derives from the first known European translation by Antoine Galland, which appeared in 1704. According to Robert Irwin, Galland "played so large a part in discovering the tales, in popularizing them in Europe and in shaping what would come to be regarded as the canonical collection that, at some risk of hyperbole and paradox, he has been called the real author of the Nights." The immediate success of Galland's version with the French public may have been because it coincided with the vogue for contes de fées ("fairy stories"). This fashion began with the publication of Madame d'Aulnoy's Histoire d'Hypolite in 1690. D'Aulnoy's book has a remarkably similar structure to the Nights, with the tales told by a female narrator. The success of the Nights spread across Europe and by the end of the century there were translations of Galland into English, German, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Russian, Flemish and Yiddish. Galland's version provoked a spate of pseudo-Oriental imitations. At the same time, some French writers began to parody the style and concoct far-fetched stories in superficially Oriental settings. These tongue-in-cheek pastiches include Anthony Hamilton's Les quatre Facardins (1730), Crébillon's Le sopha (1742) and Diderot's Les bijoux indiscrets (1748). They often contained veiled allusions to contemporary French society. The most famous example is Voltaire's Zadig (1748), an attack on religious bigotry set against a vague pre-Islamic Middle Eastern background. The English versions of the "Oriental Tale" generally contained a heavy moralising element, with the notable exception of William Beckford's fantasy Vathek (1786), which had a decisive influence on the development of the Gothic novel. The Polish nobleman Jan Potocki's novel Saragossa Manuscript (begun 1797) owes a deep debt to the Nights with its Oriental flavour and labyrinthine series of embedded tales.
The work was included on a price-list of books on theology, history, and cartography, which was sent by the Scottish bookseller Andrew Millar (when an apprentice) to a Presbyterian minister. This is illustrative of the title's widespread popularity and availability in the 1720s.
The Nights continued to be a favourite book of many British authors of the Romantic and Victorian eras. According to A. S. Byatt, "In British Romantic poetry the Arabian Nights stood for the wonderful against the mundane, the imaginative against the prosaically and reductively rational." In their autobiographical writings, both Coleridge and de Quincey refer to nightmares the book had caused them when young. Wordsworth and Tennyson also wrote about their childhood reading of the tales in their poetry. Charles Dickens was another enthusiast and the atmosphere of the Nights pervades the opening of his last novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870).
Several writers have attempted to add a thousand and second tale, including Théophile Gautier (La mille deuxième nuit, 1842) and Joseph Roth (Die Geschichte von der 1002. Nacht, 1939). Edgar Allan Poe wrote "The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade" (1845). It depicts the eighth and final voyage of Sinbad the Sailor, along with the various mysteries Sinbad and his crew encounter; the anomalies are then described as footnotes to the story. While the king is uncertain—except in the case of the elephants carrying the world on the back of the turtle—that these mysteries are real, they are actual modern events that occurred in various places during, or before, Poe's lifetime. The story ends with the king in such disgust at the tale Scheherazade has just woven, that he has her executed the very next day.
Another important literary figure, the Irish poet W. B. Yeats was also fascinated by the Arabian Nights, when he wrote in his prose book, A Vision an autobiographical poem, titled The Gift of Harun Al-Rashid, in relation to his joint experiments with his wife Georgie Hyde-Lees, with Automatic writing. The automatic writing, is a technique used by many occultists in order to discern messages from the subconscious mind or from other spiritual beings, when the hand moves a pencil or a pen, writing only on a simple sheet of paper and when the person's eyes are shut. Also, the gifted and talented wife, is playing in Yeats's poem as "a gift" herself, given only allegedly by the caliph to the Christian and Byzantine philosopher Qusta Ibn Luqa, who acts in the poem as a personification of W. B. Yeats. In July 1934 he was asked by Louis Lambert, while in a tour in the United States, which six books satisfied him most. The list that he gave placed the Arabian Nights, secondary only to William Shakespeare's works.
Stories from the One Thousand and One Nights have been popular subjects for films, beginning with Georges Méliès' Le Palais des Mille et une nuits (1905).
The critic Robert Irwin singles out the two versions of The Thief of Baghdad (1924 version directed by Raoul Walsh; 1940 version produced by Alexander Korda) and Pier Paolo Pasolini's Il fiore delle Mille e una notte, 1974) as ranking "high among the masterpieces of world cinema." Michael James Lundell calls Il fiore "the most faithful adaptation, in its emphasis on sexuality, of The 1001 Nights in its oldest form."
The 1949 animated film The Singing Princess, another movie produced in Italy, is inspired by The Arabian Nights. The animated feature film, One Thousand and One Arabian Nights (1969), produced in Japan and directed by Osamu Tezuka and Eichii Yamamoto, featured psychedelic imagery and sounds, and erotic material intended for adults.
Alif Laila (The Arabian Nights), a 1997–2002 Indian TV series based on the stories from One Thousand and One Nights produced by Sagar Entertainment Ltd, starts with Scheherazade telling her stories to Shahryār, and contains both the well-known and the lesser-known stories from One Thousand and One Nights.
Arabian Nights (2000), a two-part television mini-series adopted for BBC and ABC studios, starring Mili Avital, Dougray Scott, and John Leguizamo, and directed by Steve Barron, is based on the translation by Sir Richard Francis Burton.
Shabnam Rezaei and Aly Jetha created, and the Vancouver-based Big Bad Boo Studios produced 1001 Nights (2012), an animated television series for children, which launched on Teletoon and airs in 80 countries around the world, including Discovery Kids Asia.
The Nights has inspired many pieces of music, including:
Popular modern games with an Arabian Nights theme include the Prince of Persia series, Sonic and the Secret Rings, Disney's Aladdin, Bookworm Adventures, and the pinball table, Tales of the Arabian Nights.
Many artists have illustrated the Arabian nights, including: Pierre-Clément Marillier for Le Cabinet des Fées (1785–1789), Gustave Doré, Léon Carré (Granville, 1878 – Alger, 1942), Roger Blachon, Françoise Boudignon, André Dahan, Amato Soro, Albert Robida, Alcide Théophile Robaudi and Marcelino Truong; Vittorio Zecchin (Murano, 1878 – Murano, 1947) and Emanuele Luzzati; The German Morgan; Mohammed Racim (Algiers, 1896 – Algiers 1975), Sani ol-Molk (1849–1856), Anton Pieck and Emre Orhun.
Famous illustrators for British editions include: Arthur Boyd Houghton, John Tenniel, John Everett Millais and George John Pinwell for Dalziel's Illustrated Arabian Nights Entertainments, published in 1865; Walter Crane for Aladdin's Picture Book (1876); Frank Brangwyn for the 1896 edition of Lane's translation; Albert Letchford for the 1897 edition of Burton's translation; Edmund Dulac for Stories from the Arabian Nights (1907), Princess Badoura (1913) and Sindbad the Sailor & Other Tales from the Arabian Nights (1914). Others artists include John D. Batten, (Fairy Tales From The Arabian Nights, 1893), Kay Nielsen, Eric Fraser, Errol le Cain, Maxfield Parrish, W. Heath Robinson and Arthur Szyk (1954).
Arabian Nights, the work known in Arabic as Alf layla wa-laylaCS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
Media related to Arabian Nights at Wikimedia Commons Quotations related to One Thousand and One Nights at Wikiquote Arabic Wikisource has original text related to this article: ألف ليلة وليلة Works related to One Thousand and One Nights at Wikisource
A Thousand and One Nights (Japanese: 千夜一夜物語, Hepburn: Senya Ichiya Monogatari) is a 1969 adult anime feature film directed by Eiichi Yamamoto, conceived by Osamu Tezuka. The film is part of Mushi Production's Animerama, a series of films aimed at an adult audience.
The film was a hit in Japan and was given limited screenings in America in 1970, but the film did very poorly, as an X-rated cartoon did not seem to appeal to an audience. The dubbed version of the film is now very rare, and has never been released on home video, and may be considered lost. However, the trailer for the English dub was found. The English-dubbed version was cut to 100 minutes. The film predates the more successful release of Fritz the Cat, the first American X-rated animated film, by three years.Adventures of Sinbad the Sailor
Pohádky tisíce a jedné noci (literally Tales of 1,001 Nights) is a 1974 Czech animated film directed by Karel Zeman. The film combines the voyages of Sindbad the Sailor with elements of other tales from the Arabian Nights. Released in America as Adventures of Sinbad the Sailor, it is also known as A Thousand and One Nights. The film was animated using paper cutouts and draws its visual inspiration from Persian miniatures.Aladdin
Aladdin (; Arabic: علاء الدين, ʻAlāʼ ud-Dīn/ ʻAlāʼ ad-Dīn, IPA: [ʕalaːʔ adˈdiːn]) is a folk tale of Middle Eastern origin. It is one of the tales in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (The Arabian Nights), and one of the best known—despite not being part of the original Arabic text. It was added to the collection in the 18th century by the Frenchman Antoine Galland, who attributed the tale to a Syrian storyteller, Ḥannā Diyāb.Since it first appeared in the early 18th century "Aladdin and the Magic Lamp" has been one of the best known and most retold of all fairy tales.Aladdin and His Lamp
Aladdin and His Lamp is a 1952 film.Aladdin and the King of Thieves
Aladdin and the King of Thieves (also known as Aladdin 3: Aladdin and the King of Thieves) is a 1996 American direct-to-video animated musical fantasy adventure film produced by Walt Disney Television Animation. It is the second sequel to the 1992 film Aladdin, and serves as the final chapter of the Arabian Nights-inspired Disney franchise beginning with the first film, and continuing with its first direct-to-video sequel The Return of Jafar and the animated series of the same name.
The film is inspired by the tale Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves from One Thousand and One Nights, replacing Ali Baba with Aladdin, and for the first time since the original Aladdin, the film has a completely new soundtrack instead of the rearranged music from the original film for The Return of Jafar and the series.
Though the film serves as the finale of the series, the characters also appear in a 1999 crossover episode of the animated series Hercules, titled "Hercules and the Arabian Night", as well as the 2007 direct-to-video title called Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams.Alif Laila
Alif Laila Urdu: اَلف لَیلیٰ) is an Indian television series based on the One Thousand and One Nights, also known as the Arabian Nights. It was produced by Sagar Films (Pvt. Ltd.). It was made in two seasons: the original broadcast in 1993 on DD National. The popularity of the show led to it receiving syndicated airing in Bengali on BTV, Gazi Television, and ETV (Bangladesh). The show started re-airing from 2012 on every weekdays on Dhamaal TV and its sister channel Dabangg TV.The plot line of the series starts from the very beginning when Shahrzad starts telling stories to Shahryar and contains both the well-known and the lesser-known stories from the One Thousand and One Nights which are mentioned here. The name Alif Laila is a short form of the original Arabic title of the One Thousand and One Nights - Alif Layla wa-Layla (Arabic: ألف ليلة وليلة).Arabian Nights (1942 film)
Arabian Nights is a 1942 adventure film starring Sabu, Maria Montez, Jon Hall and Leif Erickson and directed by John Rawlins. The film is derived from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights but owes more to the imagination of Universal Pictures than the original Arabian stories. Unlike other films in the genre (The Thief of Bagdad), it features no monsters or supernatural elements.The film is one of series of "exotic" tales released by Universal during the war years. Others include Cobra Woman, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and White Savage. This is the first film by Universal to use the three-strip Technicolor film process.Arabian Nights (1974 film)
Arabian Nights is a 1974 Italian film directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Its original Italian title is Il fiore delle mille e una notte, which means "The Flower of the One Thousand and One Nights".
The film is an adaptation of the ancient Arabic anthology The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, better known as The Arabian Nights. It is the last of Pasolini's "Trilogy of Life", which began with The Decameron and continued with The Canterbury Tales. The lead was played by young Franco Merli who was discovered for this film by Pasolini.
The film contains abundant nudity, sex and slapstick humor. It preserves the eroticism and the story within a story structure of Arabian Nights and has been called "perhaps the best and certainly the most intelligent" of Arabian Nights film adaptations.Arabian Nights and Days
Arabian Nights and Days (1979) is a novel by Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. The novel serves as a sequel and companion piece for One Thousand and One Nights and includes many of the same characters that appeared in the original work such as Shahryar, Scheherazade, and Aladdin.Badroulbadour
Badroulbadour/ Badr ul-Badour/ Badr al-Badur (Arabic: بدر البدور Badr ul-Budūr, "full moon of full moons") is a princess whom Aladdin married in The Story of Aladdin; or, the Wonderful Lamp. Her name uses the full moon as a metaphor for female beauty, which is common in Arabic literature and throughout the Arabian Nights.
When Aladdin finds a magic lamp, he discovers it contains a jinni bound to do the bidding of the person holding the lamp. With the aid of the jinn, Aladdin—an impoverished young man who, in other circumstances, could not have aspired to marry a princess—becomes rich and powerful and marries Princess Badroulbadour.
In Disney's animated movie Aladdin, her name was changed to Jasmine and she was made an Arabian princess. She is also mentioned in a poem by Wallace Stevens called "The Worms at Heaven's Gate" in his book Harmonium. She is a character in the children's novel Wishing Moon by Michael O. Tunnell, and is portrayed as a scheming, black-hearted villainess.
The name Badroulbadour also appears in the novels The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford, and The Turmoil by Booth Tarkington (as 'Princess Bedrulbudour'), and Come Dance with Me by Russell Hoban. Hoban also mentions Badoura as the name of an Arabian princess in The Arabian Nights. Monica Baldwin, in her novel The Called and the Chosen, uses the name Badroulbadour for the Siamese cat who belonged to her heroine, Ursula, before she became a nun.Falak (Arabian legend)
Falak (Arabic: فلك) in the legend of Bahamut is the powerful serpent that lives under the Realm of Fire. It is said to be so great that only its fear of the greater power of God prevents it from swallowing all creation. It is mentioned in the One Thousand and One Nights.List of One Thousand and One Nights characters
This is a list of characters in the medieval collection of Middle Eastern folk tales One Thousand and One Nights.List of stories within One Thousand and One Nights
This is a list of the stories in Richard Francis Burton's translation of One Thousand and One Nights. Burton's first ten volumes—which he called The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night—were published in 1885. His Supplemental Nights were published between 1886 and 1888 as six volumes. Later pirate copies split the very large third volume into two volumes. The nights are in the style of stories within stories, and the frame story is The Story Of King Shahryar of Persia and His Brother or The Story Of King Shahryar and Queen Shahrazad, in which Shahrazad tells tales to her husband Shahryar.
NOTE: The numbers in parentheses indicate that the night in question began (and the previous night ended) during the tale indicated (or one of its sub-tales). Numbers in double parentheses mean that the story is fully contained in the indicated night. An asterisk indicates the story begins with the night.Open Sesame (phrase)
"Open Sesame" (French: Sésame, ouvre-toi) (Arabic: افتح يا سمسم) is a magical phrase in the story of "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" in One Thousand and One Nights. It opens the mouth of a cave in which forty thieves have hidden a treasure.Scheherazade
Scheherazade (Arabic: شهرزاد Šahrazād, derived from Middle Persian Čehrāzād) is a major female character and the storyteller in the Middle Eastern literature One Thousand and One Nights.Scheherazade (Rimsky-Korsakov)
Scheherazade, also commonly Sheherazade (Russian: Шехераза́да, tr. Shekherazáda, IPA: [ʂɨxʲɪrɐˈzadə]), Op. 35, is a symphonic suite composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1888 and based on One Thousand and One Nights (also known as The Arabian Nights).This orchestral work combines two features typical of Russian music and of Rimsky-Korsakov in particular: dazzling, colorful orchestration and an interest in the East, which figured greatly in the history of Imperial Russia, as well as orientalism in general. The name "Scheherazade" refers to the main character Shahrazad of the One Thousand and One Nights. It is considered Rimsky-Korsakov's most popular work.Tales of the Arabian Nights (pinball)
Tales of the Arabian Nights is a 1996 pinball machine produced by Williams. The game is based on the stories of One Thousand and One Nights and features a blue jinn. The marketing slogan is "Your Wish is Granted".The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade
"The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade" is a short-story by American author Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849). It was published in the February 1845 issue of Godey's Lady's Book and was intended as a partly humorous sequel to the celebrated collection of Middle Eastern tales One Thousand and One Nights.