Readings and Re-Readings of Night 602  

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 This page Readings and Re-Readings of Night 602 is part of the meta series. Illustration: Reverse Side of a Painting (1670) by Cornelis Norbertus Gysbrechts, an example of metapainting.
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This page Readings and Re-Readings of Night 602 is part of the meta series.
Illustration: Reverse Side of a Painting (1670) by Cornelis Norbertus Gysbrechts, an example of metapainting.

"I remembered too that night which is at the middle of the Thousand and One Nights when Scheherazade (through a magical oversight of the copyist) begins to relate word for word the story of the Thousand and One Nights, establishing the risk of coming once again to the night when she must repeat it, and thus on to infinity…" --"The Garden of Forking Paths", Jorge Luis Borges

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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.

"Readings and Re-Readings of Night 602"[1] is an essay by Evelyn Fishburn on Jorge Luis Borges's frequent admiringly citing of one "specific and special Night" in One Thousand and One Nights. The essay was published in Variaciones Borges in 2004.

Long thought to have been a fiction, Fishburn shows that this "specific and special Night" is included in one of the Supplemental Nights of Richard Francis Burton's edition of The Nights and she identifies this 'self-referencing night' as the "Tale of the Two kings and the Wazir's Daughters".

In "Magias parciales del Quijote" Borges calls the night a "magic night among the nights":

"Ninguna tan perturbadora como la de la noche DCII, mágica entre las noches. En esa noche, el rey oye de boca de la reina su propia historia. Oye el principio de la historia, que abarca a todas las demás, y también ‑de monstruoso modo‑, a sí misma. ¿Intuye claramente el lector la vasta posibilidad de esa interpolación, el curioso peligro? Que la reina persista y el inmóvil rey oirá para siempre la trunca historia de Las mil y una noches, ahora infinita y circular..."

English translation:

"The King hears his own story from the Queen’s mouth. He hears the beginning of the story, which embraces all the others as well as – monstrously – itself. Does the reader really understand the vast possibilities of that interpolation, the curious danger – that the Queen may persist and the Sultan, immobile, will hear forever the truncated story of A Thousand and One Nights, now infinite and circular?"[2]

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