One Thousand and One Nights  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Book of One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of stories compiled over thousands of years by various authors, translators and scholars which trace their roots back to Ancient Arabia and Ancient Persia. Though an original manuscript has never been found several versions date the collection's genesis to somewhere between AD 800-900. The book has been banned various times.

Well known stories from The Nights include "Aladdin," "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," and "The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor."

Psychpopathological aspects

King Shahryar discovers his wife's infidelity and has her executed, without conscience or recognizing any defect in his own psyche, declaring all women to be unfaithful. He marries a succession of virgins only to have Scheherazade's father, the vizier, execute each one the next morning until finally he comes to Scheherazade herself, after three years of ordering the death of his brides after each wedding night. Scheherazade survives because she tells the king a story on each of the 1001 nights, which end in a cliffhanger at dawn. Shahryar's brother had earlier discovered his own first wife in bed with a cook and he butchers them both and then continued a pattern of marriage and murder like Shahryar.

The stories in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights likely began in the oral tradition before the fifth century AD. Though Shahrya was not then a stock psychopathic character the Book and its many characters, has had wide influence on writers, not only in the sex and serial murder genre. Edgar Allan Poe, for example wrote "A Thousand and Second Night", where in the story of Sinbad, Poe's king kills Scheherazade in disgust at the story she tells him.

Literature

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.

Examples of this influence include:

  • Edgar Allan Poe wrote a "Thousand and Second Night" as a separate tale, called "The Thousand and Second Tale of Scheherazade." It depicts the 8th 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.
  • The Book of One Thousand and One Nights has an estranged cousin: The Manuscript Found in Saragossa, by Jan Potocki. A Polish noble of the late 18th century, he traveled the Orient looking for an original edition of The Nights, but never found it. Upon returning to Europe, he wrote his masterpiece, a multi-leveled frame tale.
  • It also greatly influence famed horror and science fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft in his early years as a child in which he would imagine himself living the adventures of the heroes in the book. It also inspired him to come up with his famed Necronomicon.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "One Thousand and One Nights" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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