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|Tales from the Thousand And One Nights
(The Arabian Nights; 1001 Nights)
(Kitab Hadith Alf Layla, Alf laylah wa laylah, etc.)
Outline by Michael McGoodwin, prepared 2003
Acknowledgement: This work has been summarized using the Penguin 1973 edition (Tales from the Thousand And One Nights) translated by N. J. Dawood 1954, revised 1973.
Overall Impression: This large and heterogeneous collection consists of clever stories, fables, fairy tales, romances, legends, parables, anecdotes, morality tales, adventure stories, bawdry, etc. The earliest extant manuscript fragment, the so-called Abbott fragment, dates to the 9th Century, but the tales have Indian, Persian, and Arabic roots probably going back much further, perhaps to the era of the Sassanid kings predating the rise of Islam. While quite uneven in quality and at times unpolished, crude, cruel, or politically incorrect, the stories offer a great deal of entertainment as well as detailed and uncensored glimpses of medieval Arabic life. They have been the inspiration for many works of art through the centuries, including other stories, novels, poetry, plays, movies, symphonic works, operas, ballets, etc. The Dawood edition is a much-abbreviated excerpt of much larger versions. (See, for instance, the Richard Burton 16-volume The Book of The Thousand Nights and a Night, a translation of the Calcutta II edition.)
This is the frame story. The Vizier's daughter, Sharazad, volunteers to entertain and distract the cruel Sassanid king, King Shahriyar, by telling him stories. She drags these out over 1001 nights, in order to prevent him from killing more of the virgins of the realm (a rampage he began after killing his wife for adultery).
The Tailor's Tale
The Tale of the Lame Young Man and the Barber of Baghdad
A young man loves the Cadi's daughter.
The Barber's Tale
The talkative barber tells how he came to care for his brothers.
The Tale of Bakbook, the Barber's First Brother
The cunning cruelty of women.
The Tale of Al-Haddar, the Barber's Second Brother
A cruel trick is played by a woman.
The Tale of Bakbak, the Barber's Third Brother
The Tale of Al-Kuz, the Barber's Fourth Brother
The Tale of Al-Ashar, the Barber's Fifth Brother
The Tale of Shakashik, the Barber's Sixth Brother
Tricksters steal a simpleton's donkey.
The Tale of King Yunan and Duban the Doctor
The doctor cures King Yunan, but his Vizier is jealous and plots his death.
The Tale of King Sindbad and the Falcon
The murdered doctor takes vengeance on the king. The Jinnee provides fish.
The Tale of the Enchanted King
The king's wife is unfaithful.
A clever adulteress foils the plans of 5 would-be seducers.
The First Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor
A giant whale, King Mahrajan and his mares.
The Second Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor
The egg of the roc, diamonds, the karkadan.
The Third Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor
Ape-like savages, a giant like Polyphemus eats the crew, a serpent.
The Fourth Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor
Cannibals; he marries, the Cavern of the Dead.
The Fifth Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor
The Old Man of the Sea, gathering coconuts using apes.
The Sixth Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor
Another shipwreck, the underground river, jewels.
The Last Voyage of Sindbad the Sailor
Whale attack, marries again, flying men, brothers of Satan.
Abu Hasan's embarrassing episode will not be forgotten.
The poor tailor wins the magic lamp and the Chinese Sultan's daughter despite the evil designs of the Moorish sorcerer.
Kafur wreaks havoc with the one lie a year he is compelled to tell.
A porter is attracted to 3 seductive half-sisters who live together.
The Tale of the First Dervish
His cousin loved his half-sister; the Vizier put out the dervish's eye.
The Tale of the Second Dervish
A Jinnee punishes him for sleeping with the woman he abducted.
The Tale of the Third Dervish
Shipwrecked, he kills a boy...
The Tale of the First Girl
How her 2 full sisters were turned by a jinniyah into bitches which she must whip daily.
The Tale of the Second Girl
She is beaten after being made to appear unfaithful.
He catches an ape, later magic fishes, rescues the favorite wife of the Caliph...
A poor merchant finds treasure through his dream.
Judar, the youngest brother, is cruelly treated by his brothers.
A jinnee helps him get away from his shrewish wife and win a princess and great riches.
Sharazad has had 3 sons by the King. He spares her life and repents his murderous ways.