Wednesday, April 22, 2009

In Arabian Nights - Tahir Shah

A Middle Eastern setting and a copy of Burton's Nights mean yet another Nights related bit of writing, this time from English Author Tahir Shah, son of the late Indian/English/Afghan sufi writer Idries Shah.

As a side note Idries Shah's book "The Sufis" mentions the Nights as being a key text with hidden secrets to sufi wisdom, though it doesn't mention which version they use...

In his book (In Arabian Nights) Tahir Shah travels to Morocco seeking stories from the locals.

I'm not surprised of the title, though it seems like a bit of over-marketing of the Nights name, which might just be business as usual, the Nights can be whatever you say they are I suppose and you'd be 100% correct.

Here's some info on "In Arabian Nights" from wikipedia, with the wiki page linked below. The wiki page has links to several reviews of the book.

"Shah listens to anyone who has a tale to tell. He encounters professional storytellers, a junk merchant who sells his wares for nothing, but insists on a high payment for the tale attached to each item and a door to door salesman who can obtain anything, including, when Shah requests it the first "Benares" edition of A Thousand and One Nights by Richard Burton, a translation that the author's father Idries Shah had once given away. As he makes his way through the labyrinthine medinas of Fez and Marrakech, traverses the Sahara sands, and tastes the hospitality of ordinary Moroccans, he collects a treasury of stories, gleaned from the heritage of A Thousand and One Nights. The tales, recounted by a vivid cast of characters, reveal fragments of wisdom and an oriental way of thinking.

Weaving in and out of the narrative are Shah's recollection of his family's first visits to Morocco and his father's storytelling and insistence that traditional tales contain vastly undervalued resources; "We are a family of storytellers. Don't forget it. We have a gift. Protect it and it will protect you." As a father himself Shah now passes the baton on to his own children."

wikipedia link:

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