The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West


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The West became enthusiastic about the Nights in the 17th century and much was made of how the Western mind was shaped by the classic. In the mind of many readers, two parallel and earlier collections — Kalila va Dimna and Sindbad Nama — are often taken to be a part of the Nights.

Perspectives from East and West

Yet the over tales appearing in the Arabic version have continued to mesmerise the West while the Muslim mind preserves them as folklore without reading the grand collection. There is evidence that the tales included in Nights were not all put together in Baghdad with the help of local and Iranian-Indian stories; some of them had been collected in Egypt and contain variations on the ancient Egyptian mythology absorbed by the aristocracy that went to Egypt as conquerors. Some stories also came in from what the Arabs called Israeliaat, borrowings from the Talmudic lore that early Muslim scholars did not shun under a restrictive doctrine and whose influence is to be seen in the works of historian Al Tabari d.

The most interesting contribution in the book is a paper by Yuriko Yamanaka of the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, about the story of Alexander the Great titled Alexander the Two Horned and a Certain Tribe of poor Folk which appears in Nights but was not translated by most European translators because of its brevity and apparent unimportance. The title of the paper contributed by Yamanaka is Alexander in the Thousand and one Nights and the Ghazali Connection. The story is among eighteen such concerned with themes about death and about righteousness of kings.

The story of encounter with gymnosophists was about rejection of the weal of the world, eating nothing of things living but what grew from the earth. Alexander calls for their king who refuses to see any use in meeting him; so Alexander goes to him and asks him questions that the king answers within the framework of the belief in the Hereafter rather than the world here. The influence of the Nights on modern horror fiction is certainly discernible in the work of H.

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 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; [65] along the way, he encounters societies of djinns , [66] mermaids , talking serpents , talking trees, and other forms of life.

In another 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. There is an abundance of poetry in One Thousand and One Nights.

Characters occasionally provide poetry in certain settings, covering many uses. However, pleading, beseeching and praising toward the powerful is the most significant. In a typical example, expressing feelings of happiness to oneself from Night , Prince Qamar Al-Zaman, [77] 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 Arabic : [78]. The influence of the versions of The Nights on world literature is immense. Writers as diverse as H. Lovecraft, Marcel Proust , A.

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.

Ron Goodwin- Windows Of The East (Music For An Arabian Nights)

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.


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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 preth century manuscripts of the collection exist. 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. Although the first known translation into a European language only appeared in , it is possible that the Nights began exerting its influence on Western culture much earlier.

THE ARABIAN NIGHTS AND ORIENTALISM - PERSPECTIVES FROM EAST & WEST by YURIKO YAMANAKA

Echoes in Giovanni Sercambi 's Novelle and Ariosto 's Orlando furioso suggest that the story of Shahriyar and Shahzaman was also known. The modern fame of the Nights derives from the first known European translation by Antoine Galland, which appeared in 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.

This fashion began with the publication of Madame d'Aulnoy 's Histoire d'Hypolite in D'Aulnoy's book has a remarkably similar structure to the Nights , with the tales told by a female narrator. At the same time, some French writers began to parody the style and concoct far-fetched stories in superficially Oriental settings. They often contained veiled allusions to contemporary French society.

The most famous example is Voltaire 's Zadig , an attack on religious bigotry set against a vague pre-Islamic Middle Eastern background.

The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West

The Polish nobleman Jan Potocki 's novel Saragossa Manuscript begun owes a deep debt to the Nights with its Oriental flavour and labyrinthine series of embedded tales. The Nights was a favourite book of many British authors of the Romantic and Victorian eras. According to A. Byatt , "In British Romantic poetry the Arabian Nights stood for the wonderful against the mundane, the imaginative against the prosaically and reductively rational. Wordsworth and Tennyson also wrote about their childhood reading of the tales in their poetry.

Nacht , 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.

Stories from the One Thousand and One Nights have been popular subjects for films, beginning with Disney's Aladdin , an animated musical adventure featuring Robin Williams as the voice of the Genie. The critic Robert Irwin singles out the two versions of The Thief of Baghdad version directed by Raoul Walsh; version produced by Alexander Korda and Pier Paolo Pasolini 's Il fiore delle Mille e una notte , as ranking "high among the masterpieces of world cinema.

Ulrich Marzolph

UPA , an American animation studio, produced an animated feature version of Arabian Nights featuring the cartoon character Mr. Directed by Osamu Tezuka and Eichii Yamamoto, the film featured psychedelic imagery and sounds and erotic material intended for adults. It was produced by Sagar Entertainment Ltd. The series starts with Scheherazade telling her stories to Shahryar, and contains both the well-known and the lesser-known stories from One Thousand and One Nights.

The show launched on Teletoon and airs in 80 countries around the world, including Discovery Kids Asia. Popular modern video games with an Arabian Nights theme include Nadirim , a game placed in a fantasy world inspired by the tales of the Nights, [] and Sonic and the Secret Rings. Others artists include John D. Heath Robinson and Arthur Szyk Harun al-Rashid , a leading character of the Nights.

My Dashboard Get Published. Sign in with your eLibrary Card close. Flag as Inappropriate. Email this Article. One Thousand and One Nights. A manuscript of the One Thousand and One Nights. Princess Dunyazade. The story of Princess Parizade and the Magic Tree. Arabic manuscript of The Thousand and One Nights dating back to the s.

Sindbad and the Valley of Diamonds, from the Second Voyage. Due to her patience and understanding Shirin becomes one of the most respected Queens in the One Thousand and One Nights. Ali Baba by Maxfield Parrish The story of the Magic Horse. Classic Comics issue 8.

One Thousand and One Nights book. The fifth voyage of Sindbad. Retrieved on The Nandakaprakarana attributed to Vasubhaga, a Comparative Study.


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  • University of Toronto Thesis. Les entretiensde Nang Tantrai. Bibliotheca Javaneca No. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. However, it remains far from clear what the connection is between this fragment of the early text and the Nights stories as they have survived in later and fuller manuscripts, nor how the Syrian manuscripts related to later Egyptian versions. Al-Rabita Press, Baghdad, Islamic Review , Dec , p. Skip to search Skip to main content. Reporting from:. Your name. Your email. Send Cancel. Check system status. Toggle navigation Menu. Name of resource.

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    The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West
    The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West
    The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West
    The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West
    The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West
    The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West
    The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West
    The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West The Arabian Nights and Orientalism: Perspectives from East and West

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