One Thousand and One Nights (Arabic: كتاب ألف ليلة وليلة Kitāb 'alf layla wa-layla; Persian: هزار و یک شب Hezār-o yek šab) is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and 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 (1706), which rendered the title as The Arabian Nights' Entertainment.
The work as we have it was collected over many centuries by various authors, translators and scholars across the Middle East and North Africa. The tales themselves trace their roots back to ancient and medieval Arabic, Persian, Indian, Egyptian and Mesopotamian folklore and literature. In particular, many tales were originally folk stories from the Caliphate era, while others, especially the frame story, are most probably drawn from the Pahlavi Persian work Hazār Afsān (Persian: هزار افسان, lit. Thousand Tales) which in turn relied partly on Indian elements.
Though the oldest Arabic manuscript dates from the 14th century, scholarship generally dates the collection's genesis to around the 9th century.
What is common throughout all the editions of the Nights is the initial frame story of the ruler Shahryar (from Persian: شهريار, meaning "king" or "sovereign") and his wife Scheherazade (from Persian: شهرزاده, possibly meaning "of noble lineage") 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.
Some of the best-known stories of The Nights, particularly "Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp", "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" and "The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor", while almost certainly genuine Middle-Eastern folk tales, were not part of The Nights in Arabic versions, but were interpolated into the collection by Antoine Galland and other European translators.
The main frame story concerns a Persian king and his new bride. Upon discovering his wife's infidelity, the king, Shahryar, has her executed and then declares all women to be unfaithful. He begins to marry a succession of virgins only to execute each one the next morning. Eventually the vizier, whose duty it is to provide them, cannot find any more virgins. Scheherazade, 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 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 (and only begins) a new one, and the king, eager to hear the conclusion, postpones her execution once again. So it goes on for 1,001 nights.
The tales vary widely: they include historical tales, love stories, tragedies, comedies, poems, burlesques and various forms of erotica. Numerous stories depict djinn, magicians, and legendary places, which are often intermingled with real people and geography, not always rationally; common protagonists include the historical caliph Harun al-Rashid, his vizier, Ja'far al-Barmaki, and his alleged court poet Abu Nuwas, despite the fact that these figures lived some 200 years after the fall of the Persian 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 tales in the collection can be traced to the ancient and medieval Arabic, Egyptian, Persian and Indian storytelling traditions. Many stories from Indian and Persian folklore parallel the tales as well as Jewish sources. These tales were probably in circulation before they were collected and codified into a single collection. This work was further shaped by scribes, storytellers, and scholars and evolved into a collection of three distinct layers of storytelling by the 15th century:
Indian folklore is represented by certain animal stories, which reflect influence from ancient Sanskrit fables. The influence of the Panchatantra and Baital Pachisi are 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.
The influence of the folklore of Baghdad is represented by the tales of the Abbasid caliphs; the Cairene influence is made evident by Maruf the cobbler. Tales such as Iram of the columns are based upon the pre-Islamic legends of the Arabian Peninsula; motifs are employed from the ancient Mesopotamian tale, the Epic of Gilgamesh. There is also a Shia Muslim influence. Possible Greek influences have also been noted.
Early references to the collection are found in the writings of Masudi (d.956), who mentions it as a translated book full of untrue stories, and of bookseller Ibn al-Nadim (987-88), who also describes it disparagingly as a "coarse book" and retells the frame story about Shahryar and Scheherazade. In the earliest mentions, the book was referred to variously with the Persian title Hazār Afsān "A Thousand Tales" and with the popular Arabic name Alf Layla "A Thousand Nights"; the name "One Thousand and One Nights" is first attested in a 12th century loan record for a Jewish bookseller in Cairo. However, while this and other evidence suggests that the book was popular during that time and later, the earliest substantial manuscripts that are still preserved today date only from the 14th and 15th 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, namely: The Merchant and the Demon, The Fisherman and the Demon, The Story of the Porter and the Three Ladies, the Hunchback cycle, The Story of the Three Apples, enframing the Story of Nur al-Din and Shams al-Din, the Story of Nur al-Din Ali and Anis al-Jalis, the Story of Ali Ibn Baqqar and Shams al-Nahar, and the Story of Qamar al-Zaman. The texts of the Syrian recension don't 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 book, Les Mille et une nuits, contes arabes traduits en français ("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" 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 even emphasized 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 entitled The Supplemental Nights to the Thousand Nights and a Night, which were printed between 1886 and 1888. Burton's edition is the more famous one; taken together with the Supplements, it is still valued as "the most complete version of texts relating to the Arabian nights available in English". It has, however, been severely criticized for its "archaic language and extravagant idiom" and "obsessive focus on sexuality" (and has even been condemned as 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 Sir Richard Burton. 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. Unfortunately, the Lyons translation is not truly complete. As the translator himself notes in his preface to the three volumes, it is a "streamlined" version, "more for the eye than the ear." Thus much material has been omitted, and this could be considered regrettable.
In 2005, Brazilian scholar Mamede Mustafa Jarouche started publishing a thorough Portuguese translation of the work, based on the comparative analysis of a series of different Arabic manuscripts. The first three volumes of a planned five- or six-volume set have already been released, comprising the complete Syrian branch of the book (volumes 1 and 2) and part of the later Egyptian branch (volume 3 and onwards).
هزار ره صفت هفت خوان و رويين دژ
فرو شنيدم و خواندم من از هزار افسان
A thousand times, accounts of Rouyin Dezh and Haft Khān
I heard and read from Hezār Afsān (literally Thousand Fables)
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. The concept of the frame story dates back to ancient Sanskrit literature, and was introduced into Persian and Arabic literature through the Panchatantra.
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.
An early example of the "story within a story within a story" device is also found in the One Thousand and One Nights, where 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 dates back to 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 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 also dates back to the 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. A variation of this device is the self-fulfilling dream, which dates back to medieval Arabic literature. 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 "Sinbad the Sailor" story cycle. In the 14th century, a version of the "The Tale of Attaf" also appears in the Gesta Romanorum and Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron.
Leitwortstil is the '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 connects several tales together 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 also dates back to the One Thousand and One Nights (and earlier).
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.
Repetition is also used to humorous effect in the One Thousand and One Nights. Sheherezade sometimes follows up a relatively serious tale with a cruder or more broadly humorous version of the same tale. For example, "Wardan the Butcher's Adventure With the Lady and the Bear" is paralleled by "The King's Daughter and the Ape", "Harun al-Rashid and the Two Slave-Girls" by "Harun al-Rashid and the Three Slave-Girls", and "The Angel of Death With the Proud King and the Devout Man" by "The Angel of Death and the Rich King". The idea has been put forward that these pairs of tales are deliberately intended as examples of self parody, although this assumes a greater degree of editorial control by a single writer than the history of the collection as a whole would seem to indicate.
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).
The earliest known murder mystery and suspense thriller with multiple plot twists and detective fiction elements was "The Three Apples", also known as Hikayat al-sabiyya 'l-muqtula ("The Tale of the Murdered Young Woman"), one of the tales narrated by Scheherazade in the One Thousand and One Nights. In this tale, a fisherman discovers a heavy locked chest along the Tigris river and he sells it to the Abbasid Caliph, Harun al-Rashid, who then has the chest broken open only to find inside it the dead body of a young woman who was cut into pieces. Harun orders his vizier, Ja'far ibn Yahya, to solve the crime and find the murderer within three days or else he will have him executed instead. This whodunit mystery may thus be considered an archetype for detective fiction. Ja'far, however, fails to find the culprit before the deadline. Just when Harun is about to have Ja'far executed for his failure, a plot twist occurs when two men appear, one a handsome young man and the other an old man, both claiming to be the murderer. Both men argue and call each other liars as each attempts to claim responsibility for the murder. This continues until the young man proves that he is the murderer by accurately describing the chest in which the young woman was found.
The young man reveals that he was her husband and the old man her father, who was attempting to save his son-in-law by taking the blame. Harun then demands to know his motives for murdering his wife, and the young man then narrates his reasons as a flashback of events preceding Harun's discovery of the locked chest. He eulogizes her as a faultless wife and mother of his three children, and describes how she one day requested a rare apple when she was ill. He then describes his two-week long journey to Basra, where he finds three such apples at the Caliph's orchard. On his return to Baghdad, he finds out that she would no longer eat the apples because of her lingering illness. When he returns to work at his shop, he discovered a slave passing by with the same apple. He asked him about it and the slave replied that he received it from his girlfriend, who had three such apples that her husband found for her after a half-month journey. The young man then suspected his wife of unfaithfulness, rushed home, and demanded to know how many apples remained there. After finding one of the apples missing, he drew a knife and killed her. He then describes how he attempted to get rid of the evidence by cutting her body to pieces, wrapping it in multiple layers of shawls and carpets, hiding her body in a locked chest, and abandoning it in the Tigris river. Yet another twist occurs after he returns home and his son confesses to him that he had stolen one of the apples, and a slave had taken it and run off with it. The boy also confesses that he told the slave about his father's quest for the three apples. Out of guilt, the young man concludes his story by requesting Harun to execute him for his unjust murder. Harun, however, refuses to punish the young man out of sympathy, but instead sets Ja'far a new assignment: to find the tricky slave who caused the tragedy within three days, or be executed for his failure.
Ja'far yet again fails to find the culprit before the deadline has passed. On the day of the deadline, he is summoned to be executed for his failure. As he bids farewell to all his family members, he hugs his beloved youngest daughter last. It is then, by complete accident, that he discovers a round object in her pocket which she reveals to be an apple with the name of the Caliph written on it. In the story's twist ending, the girl reveals that she brought it from their slave, Rayhan. Ja'far thus realizes that his own slave was the culprit all along. He then finds Rayhan and solves the case as a result. Ja'far, however, pleads to Harun to forgive his slave and, in exchange, narrates to him the "Tale of Núr al-Dín Alí and His Son Badr al-Dín Hasan".
"The Three Apples" served as an inspiration for Hugo von Hofmannsthal's The Golden Apple (Der Goldene Apfel) (1897). It has also been noted that the flashback narrated by the young man in "The Three Apples" resembles the later story of Shakespeare's Othello (1603), which was itself based on "Un Capitano Moro", a tale from Giovanni Battista Giraldi's Gli Hecatommithi (1565).
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 the Garden of Eden (Paradise) and to Jahannam (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 djinns, 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 benevelont 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 submarine 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, life-like 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 Ebony Horse" features a robot in the form of a flying mechanical horse controlled using keys that could fly into outer space and towards the Sun. The titular ebony horse can fly the distance of one year in a single day, and is used as a vehicle by the Prince of Persia, Qamar al-Aqmar, in his adventures across Persia, Arabia and Byzantium. This story appears to have influenced later European tales such as Adenes Le Roi's Cleomades and "The Squire's Prologue and Tale" told in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. "The City of Brass" and "The Ebony Horse" can be considered early examples of proto-science fiction. The "Third Qalandar's Tale" also features a robot in the form of an uncanny boatman.
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 work by name in their own literature. Other writers who have been influenced by the Nights include John Barth, Jorge Luis Borges, Tom Holland, Salman Rushdie, Goethe, Walter Scott, Thackeray, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell, Nodier, Flaubert, Stendhal, Dumas, Gérard de Nerval, Gobineau, Pushkin, Tolstoy, Hofmannsthal, Conan Doyle, WB Yeats, HG Wells, Cavafy, Calvino, Georges Perec, HP Lovecraft, AS Byatt and Angela Carter.
This epic has been influential in the West since it was translated in the 18th century, first by Antoine Galland. Many imitations were written, especially in France. 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 the increasing historical and geographical knowledge, so that places of which little was known and so marvels were plausible had to be set further "long ago" or farther "far away"; this is a process that continues, and finally culminate in the fantasy world having little connection, if any, to actual times and places. Several elements from Arabian mythology and Persian 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.
Examples of this influence include:
There have been many adaptations of The Nights for television, cinema and radio.
The atmosphere of The Nights influenced such films as Fritz Lang's 1921 Der müde Tod, the 1924 Hollywood film The Thief of Baghdad starring Douglas Fairbanks, and its 1940 British remake. Several stories served as source material for The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), the oldest surviving feature-length animated film.
In the late 1930s, Fleischer Studios made three two-reel animated Popeye cartoons in color for Paramount Pictures. All three cartoons, known also as the Popeye Color Specials (or Features), were adapted from The Nights: Popeye the Sailor Meets Sindbad the Sailor, Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba's Forty Thieves, and Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp.
One of Hollywood's first feature films to be based on The Nights was in 1942, with the movie called Arabian Nights. It starred Maria Montez as Scheherazade, Sabu Dastagir as Ali Ben Ali and Jon Hall as Harun al-Rashid. The storyline bears virtually no resemblance to the traditional version of the book. In the film, Scheherazade is a dancer who attempts to overthrow Caliph Harun al-Rashid and marry his brother. After Scheherazade's initial coup attempt fails and she is sold into slavery, many adventures then ensue. Maria Montez and Jon Hall also starred in the 1944 film Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.
In the 1952 Universal Pictures movie The Golden Blade, Harun Al-Rashid (Rock Hudson) uses a magical sword that makes him invincible to free Baghdad from the evil vizier Jafar and his son Hadi and win the love of the beautiful princess Khairuzan (Piper Laurie).
Perhaps the most famous Sinbad film was the 1958 movie The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, produced by the stop-motion animation pioneer Ray Harryhausen. Harryhausen also provide the stop-motion effects for The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974) and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977).
In 1959 UPA released an animated feature about Mr. Magoo, based on 1001 Arabian Nights.
The most commercially successful movie based on The Nights was Aladdin, the 1992 animated movie by the Walt Disney Company, which starred the voices of Scott Weinger and Robin Williams. The film led to several sequels and a television series of the same name.
"The Voyages of Sinbad" has been adapted for television and film several times, most recently in the 2003 animated feature Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, featuring the voices of Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
A recent well-received television adaptation was the Emmy Award-winning miniseries Arabian Nights, directed by Steve Barron and starring Mili Avital as Scheherazade and Dougray Scott as Shahryar. It was originally shown over two nights on April 30, and May 1, 2000 on ABC in the United States and BBC One in the United Kingdom.
In 2001, the Radio Tales series produced a trilogy of dramas adapted from the Arabian Nights, including the stories of Aladdin, Ali Baba, and Sindbad.
Other notable versions of The Nights include the famous 1974 Italian movie Il fiore delle mille e una notte by Pier Paolo Pasolini and the 1990 |French movie Les 1001 nuits, in which Catherine Zeta-Jones made her debut playing Scheherazade. There are also numerous Bollywood movies inspired by the book, including Aladdin and Sinbad. In this version the two heroes meet and share in each other's adventures; the djinn of the lamp is female, and Aladdin marries her rather than the princess.
One Thousand and One Nights as a book.
|The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night , translated by Richard Francis Burton|
|The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night (Arabic: كتاب ألف
ليلة وليلة - kitāb 'alf layla wa-layla; Persian: هزار و یک شب -
Hezār-o yek šab) is a collection of stories collected over many
centuries by various authors, translators and scholars.
This edition of Burton's translation, restored the material censored by his wife Isabel in her edition. This was one of several limited and numbered editions privately printed for members of the "Burton Club".
The City of Many-Columned Iram and Abdullah Son of Abi Kilabah
The Sweep and the Noble Lady
The Man Who Stole the Dish of Gold Wherin the Dog Ate
The Ruined Man Who Became Rich Again Through a Dream
The Ebony Horse
The Loves of Jubayr bin Umayr and the Lady Budur
The Adventures of Bulukiya
Tale of Kamar al-Zaman
The Angel of Death With the Proud King and the Devout Man
Night 464 cross-referenced; relevant story to be determined. Could be
Sindbad the Seaman and Sindbad the Landsman
First Voyage of Sindbad Hight the Seaman
The Second Voyage of Sindbad the Seaman
The Third Voyage of Sindbad the Seaman
The Fourth Voyage of Sindbad the Seaman
The Fifth Voyage of Sindbad the Seaman
The Sixth Voyage of Sindbad the Seaman
The Seventh Voyage of Sindbad the Seaman
The King and His Wazir's Wife
The Devotee To Whom Allah Gave a Cloud for Service and the Devout King
Abu al-Husn and His Slave-Girl Tawaddud
The Lady and Her Five Suitors
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
Alladin; or the Wonderful Lamp
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves