Arabian Nights Book Review edited by Andrew Lang

A work that has been there over centuries, that no one really knows when it was written, yet it is quiet a jewel to read, the Arabian Nights is an exceptional fantasy work full of magical suspense, satire, and derogatory themes. It tells of stories that were passed on from generation to generation, all the way from the ages of the children of Ham, Shem, and Japhet, to Troy, to Homer, even to the time of Moses.download

From diverse spheres of earth, the stories are told in different ways, with minor alterations with things like customs, dress code, and mannerism; nonetheless they follow the same story line and concepts. One thing however, that stands out in the Arabian Nights fairy tales is that there are set in many kingdoms, which are ruled by kings and queens, have magic, genius, and follow a strict Muslim culture, which sees genuineness, impartiality, and reconciliation come into being.

Whereas the Arabian Nights are told in many regions, the ones from the East namely: Persia, Arabia, and Asia, were narrated to the young ones as a way of sharing wisdom, entertainment, amusement, and passing customs and cultures. As they were no books by then to record the stories, the settings changed every day with different settings, plots, and characters including Mahommedans, great Caliph (ruler of the Faithful), the Vizir, Haroun al Raschid (in 786-808 A.D. in Bagdad), among other characters.download (1)

Overview of Arabian Nights by Andrew Lang

In the Persian Empire, there is a great Sultan Schahriar, who loves his wife fondly. However one day, he finds her cheating on him, as a result he has her executed with her head being cut off. He is perturbed by her infidelity, thus he comes up with a bizarre notion of marrying a new wife every evening, only to behead her in the preceding morning.

Now, the grand Vizis has two daughters: Scheherazade; a rather witty woman, who has studied philosophy, medicine, fine arts, and history, plus she is blessed with charms of beauty, and her younger sister Dinarzade, who loves her sibling deeply. Disconcerted by the primitive behavior of the great Sultan Schahriar, Scheherazade decides to put an end to it, and to achieve this effect she gives her hand in marriage to the sultan. Her father, the grand Vizis, is troubled by this, plus his daughter, but Scheherazade assures both them all will be alright.

As a request, Scheherazade asks the Sultan to allow her sister Dinarzade to be allowed into their sleeping room overnight. This she says will mean the world to her, as she will get to be with her sister in the last remaining days of her life. Thinking this is of no major consequence, the Sultan agrees, and in that evening Scheherazade is married by the Sultan.

As dawn approaches, Dinarzade turns to her sister and asks her to narrate one of her charming stories before the sun comes up. The Sultan allows this, and Scheherazade tells The Story of the Merchant and the Genius, only to stop when the sun comes up. Left with so much suspense for the story, the Sultan allows Scheherazade to live for another day, so as to continue with the story. The subsequent morning the same thing happens, and Scheherazade is allowed to live yet for another day to complete the story. This goes on every day, each story giving in to another, until the end of the book. images

The Essence of Genius, Magic, and the Paranormal in Arabian Nights by Andrew Lang

Whereas magic is observed as a fallacy by many, in the Arabian nights, it plays a vital role in that it offers a might chastisement, as the Koran often refers to it, to all those who are corrupt, immoral, and on the wrong, while giving rewards to all those who are chaste, genial, and on the path of righteousness. It acts as the solemn power, which sees retribution, egalitarianism, and reward comes to all those who live on the right, consequently a castigation to those on the wrong.

For instance in The Story of the First Old Man and of the Hind, the man’s wife uses magic to turn the adopted son and her mother into a calf and a cow respectively, for she is jealous as she is not able to give birth to a child whereas the other woman is able to. The man suffers greatly, but in the end he learns of the treachery ways of his wife, and uses the same magic to turn her into a hind.images (1)

In the same way religion is used to create morality, hope, and love in the society, magic in the Arabian Nights transcends impracticality, morality, and creates feasibility for peace in the society. The genius, just show us the rules of the universe in that, whatever one wishes for in life, one is bound to encounter it, thus it is of most necessity to be in tune with good thoughts, and fantasies.

2 Responses to “Arabian Nights Book Review edited by Andrew Lang”

  1. Although i’v not yet finished reading,it’s quite amazing.I’v never gone through the book,although i know about it.It’s quite a thrilling masterpiece.Thanks for the book review.It will enlighten our literary knowledge.

    • Hi George,
      Thank you for your comments. It is indeed a masterpiece. I am glad that the review will help you in your literary pursuits. Be visiting the site often for more similar content. Thanks. 🙂

      Cheers,
      Ndiritu.

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