One Thousand and One Arabian Nights
People of various cultures have always loved the unknown. We all secretly want something magical and life altering to occur during our lifetimes; we grow up learning about mermaids and magical lamps; we would like to believe in fairies, vampires, angels, witches, and genies.
I know that I, for one, have always loved reading and listening to stories, whether they are legends, scary tales, fantasies, or myths. Moreover, I have always been interested in discovering the origins of such stories. This fascination with fiction is one reason for why I am so intrigued by novels like Twilight, The Hunger Games, and The Mortal Instruments. Recently, I stumbled upon a beautiful story that I wanted to share (yes, this is story time all over again).
This tale traces back to ancient and medieval Arabic, Persian, Indian, Egyptian, and Mesopotamianfolklore and literature. Initially, a Persian king, Shahryar, has a beautiful wife, whom he dearly loves. However, he is soon shocked to discover that she has been unfaithful, and then has her executed. In his bitterness and grief he decides that all women are infidels.
The king begins to marry a series of virgins only to execute each one the following morning, before she has a chance to dishonor him. Eventually, the vizier, a high ranking political advisor or minister whose duty it is to gather the ladies for the king, cannot find any more virgins. However, it so happens that the Vizier is the father of two of the most beautiful women in the land: Scheherazade and Dunyazade. Scheherazade, the vizier's daughter, offers herself as the next bride and her father unwillingly agrees. And so it was, that the king met “Scheherazade,” an exceptional storyteller.
On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale, but stops at dawn and does not end it. The king is curious about how the story ends and feels compelled to postpone her execution in order to hear the conclusion. The next evening, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins (and only begins) a new one, and the king, eager to hear the conclusion, once again postpones her execution.
The tales vary widely: they include historical and love stories, tragedies, comedies, and more. Numerous stories portray genies, ghouls, sorcerers, magicians, and legendary places. Sometimes a character in Scheherazade's tale will begin telling other characters a story of his own, and that story may have another one told within it, thus resulting in a richly layered narrative texture.
And so it went for one thousand and one nights, until the King fell deeply in love with Scheherazade and they lived happily ever after.
I truly hope that you loved this story as much as I did! I found out so much about a variety of different cultures in the Middle East and their perspectives. P.S. keep in mind that this tale has many alternate endings, versions, and editions because it has been around for such a long time. What is your favorite story or tale?