Sunday, July 26, 2009

dissertations on the nights

A cursory search via ProQuest brings up the following dissertations and abstracts based on the Nights:

(Sandra Naddaff's has been turned into her great book on the Nights):

by NADDAFF, SANDRA ANN, Ph.D., Harvard University, 1983 , 215 pages; AAT 8403028
Abstract (Summary)

The present study limits itself to an examination of the narrative strategies and structures within one cycle of the 1001 Nights. The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad is present in a relatively stable form in all recensions of the 1001 Nights and is among the most intricate of its narratives. Like the other narratively generated cycles within the work, The Porter and the Three Ladies consists of a frame story within which unfold the tales of its main characters. Story-telling, then, is the main activity of the cycle, indeed the only activity which has value within this narrative universe. In this, the cycle mirrors the original frame story of the larger embedding work. In both narrative and thematic terms, the cycle speaks of the tale of Shahrazad, details in miniature fashion the larger narrative issues sketched before the first of the 1001 nights begins. The narrative concerns and tendencies which it exhibits are correspondingly significant.

It is the aim of this work to isolate and explain these concerns and tendencies. Arabesque had its genesis in an effort to define the basic narrative development of this particular cycle, to understand why The Porter and the Three Ladies moves in a manner so radically different from that of more conventional narratives. The further reaches of such an examination encompass the function of metaphor as a generative trope in narrative. From an analysis of the status of metaphor within this narrative, the study moves to an examination of the function of repetition as a mode of narrative discourse, and, further, to a close reading of the specific workings of narrative repetition on the level of both story and discourse in the cycle. The final chapter of the study interprets these narrative strategies in the light of the development of the Islamic ornament of arabesque, attempts to define the narrative equivalent of arabesque. In so doing, it hopes to offer a broader theoretical context within which the kind of narrative structure and discourse defined by the cycle of The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad can be read."

"Roots of oral tradition in "The Arabian Nights": An application of oral performance theory to "The story of the King of China's Hunchback"
by Mahir, Zaid Numan, M.A., University of Missouri - Columbia, 2007 , 116 pages; AAT 1459768
Abstract (Summary)

The aim of this thesis is to argue for The Arabian Nights as a work of verbal art whose roots are in the oral tradition of the Arab world. After a short premise meant to throw light on the status of oral storytelling in the Arab world, the thesis is divided into three chapters. The first is devoted to laying out a theoretical background for the application of an oral tradition approach. Chapters Two and Three are given to the application of this approach: Richard Bauman's Oral Performance framework. The text chosen for this application is the "Story of the King of China's Hunchback." The conclusions I draw afterwards are based on the illuminating results of the theory put to practice."

"Scheherazade reborn in the contemporary Francophone fiction of Leila Sebbar, Pierre Karch and Vinciane Moeschler
by DeVille, Jennifer Suzanne, Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2006 , 184 pages; AAT 3219122
Abstract (Summary)

Since the mid-1980s, Francophone authors from both the Eastern and Western worlds have displayed a renewed interest in Scheherazade, the legendary storyteller of Les Mille et Une Nuits. This rediscovery of Scheherazade, particularly in the postcolonial context, serves as a vehicle for refuting hegemonic and patriarchal domination. As a multicultural figure, Scheherazade also functions as a means through which sexuality and maternity can be redefined. Furthermore, Scheherazade's recent renown is inextricably linked to the impact of globalization and multiculturalism in the information age, wherein the emblem of the empowered literary and political icon is available to all, regardless of race, gender, or geographical location.

The title character in each of the primary sources I examine in this dissertation is overtly named after Scheherazade. Although these primary works share a common namesake, however, the cultural, religious, ethnic and ethical values relating to the women within them vary considerably. The five novels and four short stories in which the Scheherazade figures appear were written over a span of twenty-one years, by both male and female authors from Algeria/France, Canada, and Switzerland.

In Leïla Sebbar's seven Shérazade works, the Scheherazade figure is an educated, powerful and defiant Beur runaway who is the quintessential anti-odalisque. Shérazade overcomes death and rape, ultimately becoming a mother-figure in contemporary Algeria. In Le Nombril de Scheherazade, Pierre Karch reinvents Scheherazade as a pseudo-transvestite storyteller in the Bahamas. Karch's abundant use of parody forces the reader to question the cultural construct of gender while simultaneously calling attention to dysfunctional family dynamics. In the case of Vinciane Moeschler's Schéhérazade, ma folie, both parodic Scheherazade figures succumb to languor, dependency and despondency. By presenting two ill-fated narratives of excess, one in Medieval Baghdad and another in contemporary Algiers and Brussels, Moeschler offers a diachronic reproachment of female hypersexuality and Western misperceptions of the East. In addition to subverting Orientalist stereotypes of Scheherazade, Sebbar, Karch and Moeschler refute the binary opposition between sexuality and maternity, thereby proffering a redefinition of women's voice, power and identity in the twenty-first century."

"The Spanish Shahrazad and her entourage: The powers of storytelling women in "Libro de los enganos de las mujeres"
by Hancock, Zennia Desiree, Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park, 2004 , 263 pages; AAT 3153133
Abstract (Summary)

The anonymous Libro de los engaños e asayamientos de las mugeres (LEM) is a collection of exempla consisting of a frame tale and twenty-three interpolated tales. It forms part of the Seven Sages/Sindibad cycle, shares source material with the Arabic Alf layla wa layla (A Thousand and One Nights) , and was ordered translated from Arabic into Romance by Prince Fadrique of Castile in 1253. In the text, females may be seen as presented according to the traditional archetypes of Eve and the Virgin Mary; however, the ambivalence of the work allows that it be interpreted as both misogynous and not, which complicates the straightforward designation of its female characters as "good" and "bad." Given this, the topos of Eva/Ave as it applies to this text is re-evaluated.

The reassessment is effected by exploring the theme of ambivalence and by considering the female characters as hybrids of both western and eastern tradition. The primary female character of the text, dubbed the "Spanish Shahrazad," along with other storytelling women in the interpolated tales, are proven to transcend binary paradigms through their intellect, which cannot be said to be inherently either good or evil, and which is expressed through speech acts and performances.

Chapter I reviews the historical background of Alfonsine Spain and the social conditions of medieval women, and discusses the portrayal of females in literature, while Chapter II focuses on the history of the exempla, LEM , and critical approaches to the text, and then identifies Bakhtin's theory of the carnivalesque and Judith Butler's speech act theory of injurious language as appropriate methodologies, explaining how both are nuanced by feminist perspectives. A close reading of the text demonstrates how it may be interpreted as a misogynous work. Chapter III applies the theoretical tools in order to problematise the misogynous reading of the text and to demonstrate the agency of its female speaker-performers; the analysis centres on the Spanish Shahrazad, who represents a female subjectivity that transcends binary depictions of women and represents a holistic ideal of existence that is reflected in the calculated, harmonized use of both her intellect and corporeality."

by MORSY, FATEN I., Ph.D., University of Essex (United Kingdom), 1989 , 236 pages; AAT D-89972
Abstract (Summary)

Available from UMI in association with The British Library. Requires signed TDF.

This thesis attempts a study of the framing device in Western short fiction as a continuity from 1001 Nights to Borges. By analysing some of the stories in the selected texts, the use of frame casts light on the relationship between Medieval entertaining function of fiction and the modern tradition of reflexive fiction.

Part I briefly defines some critical and theoretical concepts as a background against which the works at hand will be studied. Of these I single out the concept of literary history and the idea of cultural frontiers in which I point out as precisely as possible the relevance of these major issues to the overall purposes of the thesis.

Part II which is divided into 4 chapters, deals with the frame-narrative tradition in the Middle Ages. I start by a discussion of 1001 Nights emphasising its position both within its Arabic literary tradition and in Western European literature. The rest of the part is concerned with the shadow cast by 1001 Nights. Chapter 4 considers the frame-narrative device in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Decameron of Boccaccio, while in Chapter 5 a discussion of some of the novellas shows that both writers wrote stories that had entertainment as their main intention.

Part III is divided into two chapters which consider Las Novelas Ejemplares and Don Quixote respectively. The discussion of some of the novellas in the first collection and the analysis of a number of episodes in Don Quixote, are intended to show that Cervantes's work stands at an important junction in the historical development of the novella. Although Cervantes breaks away with the conventional frame-narrative tradition, he handles the frame so successfully that it becomes a prominent device in his "reflexive fiction".

The last part is devoted to the discussion of Borges's Ficciones which brings into focus the above considerations through an attempted analysis of some of his fictional pieces. While Chapter 8 examines some of the framing devices used by Borges, the last chapter looks at Borges's use of the "labyrinth"--which finds wide repercussions in the formal organization of the earlier novella collections--as his most appropriate definition for both the world and his fiction."

""A Thousand and One Nights" and the construction of Islam in the western imagination
by Oliver, Martyn Allebach, Ph.D., Boston University, 2009 , 309 pages; AAT 3348614
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the influence of the text popularly known as the Arabian Nights , introduced to Europe in 1704, in the development of Western representations of Islam and Muslims. It argues that the Nights , though neither a "religious" text nor overtly concerned with religious questions, had an extensive impact on how modern Western authors and readers depicted and imagined Islam. In the course of this analysis of the development of the Nights as an object of the Western imagination, "religion" as an object of academic inquiry is problematized, the concept of "Islam" in Western discourse is historically contextualized, and the relationship between religion and literature is examined.

Islam in the Nights exists as an assumed cultural constant. It is never explicitly described or explained, but operates instead as the religious context within which the action of the many interlocking stories occurs. The text depicts Islam in terms of what is now called "lived religion," the everyday practices of ordinary Muslims. There are, however, two complicating factors to this representation. First, many stories in the Nights involve supernatural events. Because the Nights was one of the first widely read literary objects from the Muslim world, Islam and the fantastic became intimately associated. Second, the translators of the Nights , in accordance with their individual opinions or professional aims, annotated their editions with a wide array of religious, cultural, and historical anecdotes. These notes both sought to explain Islam to the readers of the Nights and contributed to the development of a critical anthropology of Islam and the "Orient."

In this confluence of factors, the representation of Islam that emerged from Western renderings of the Nights was a study in contradiction: rational and irrational, sexually licentious and repressive, violent and forgiving. In conclusion, the developing image of Islam in the West parallels the development of Western self-identity. As the Nights was recast and retranslated, it mirrored and reinforced European and American ideas about themselves. This process of definition is ongoing, and the Nights continues to play a role in that story."

"Stories without end: A reexamination of Victorian suspense
by Murfin, Audrey Dean, Ph.D., State University of New York at Binghamton, 2008 , 215 pages; AAT 3339400
Abstract (Summary)

Suspense is a central preoccupation of Victorian literature, but it has been under-theorized. Unlike work that argues that suspense does the work of Victorian empiricism, "Stories without End" argues that by borrowing structures from popular culture, suspense undermines and challenges empiricism. This challenge to objective representation and the Victorian realist project occurs even in texts that are purportedly realistic. Instead, suspense insists on indeterminacy and open-ended meta-fictionality. My project explores structural devices and the cultural and literary-historical influences from which they are drawn. My first chapter studies how the linked stories modeled after the Arabian Nights , which defined much British short fiction, denied closure to readers. The second examines how the influence of Gothic texts expressed skepticism about realism even within realist novels. In my third chapter I demonstrate that the inclusion of newspaper structures in the novel challenged the narrative objectivity and reliability of even non-fiction reporting. Finally, my project concludes by considering the protests of popular writer and realist Arthur Morrison who maintained that the realist method was morally superior. By questioning the often arbitrary fault lines between high and low traditions, "Stories without End" advances scholarship on suspense by arguing that repeatedly through the Victorian period, literature and popular culture intersected in a manner that expressed significant doubt about the possibility of any real comprehension, or representation, of the world."

"Folk narrative in the nineteenth-century British novel
by Greenlee, Jessica, Ph.D., University of Oregon, 2006 , 228 pages; AAT 3251852
Abstract (Summary)

Nineteenth-century British authors frequently made use of popular narratives in their novels, often retelling fairy tales, ballads, and myths. Many of these narratives were well known due not only to oral transmission but also to printed chapbooks, broadsides, and pantomimes. This dissertation examines the way Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and Charlotte Brontë used such narratives together with common traditional topoi to examine social issues of the day: gender-relations, the coming of the industrialized modern age, the changing of values, and the way institution, law, and tradition were applied to social problems. The focus is on Dickens's Bleak House , Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles , and Brontë's Jane Eyre , with reference to other works by each author. The narratives retold in these novels include fairy tales such as "Bluebeard," "Cinderella," "Beauty and the Beast," and "Sleeping Beauty," and tales from The Arabian Nights as well as ballads such as "Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight" and "The Spotted Cow," and a host of songs about milkmaids. Myths include that of Demeter and Persephone, the Genesis account of the Creation and Fall of man, the biblical story of Esther, and the Arthurian legends.

The authors' views of the traditions in the tales varied. Brontë saw folk narratives as providing alternative ways of seeing the world and women's place in it and includes radical revisions of several fairy tales in Jane Eyre . The more conservative Dickens used fairy tales to reinforce the doctrine of separate spheres. Hardy saw folk narratives as representing a way of believing and living that was being squeezed out and made no longer relevant by the modern world. Tess's life follows the trajectory of milkmaid ballad and mythical goddess, but Hardy chooses forms of the narratives that are focused on death rather than life and renewal. In each case, common ground created by the use of traditional narratives provided a stable foundation on which to build theories and works of literary art that remain meaningful to this day."

"Literary modernity before novel and nation: Transaction and circulation between nineteenth-century Arabic, Persian and English literatures
by Rastegar, Kamran D., Ph.D., Columbia University, 2005 , 253 pages; AAT 3174877
Abstract (Summary)

To read nineteenth-century Arabic, Persian and English literary works has often meant to value these texts in accordance with their assimilation into the trajectories of novelistic writing and nationalist discourse: a predicament here termed the nationalist-novelist paradigm of literary historiography. In opposition to this limiting paradigm, it is the thesis of this dissertation that: (1) the appearance of contingent literary modernities may be identified within transactional texts--texts engendered through and emergent from travel or other intercultural contacts, or through the translation and circulation, and (2) these texts emerge from transformations in the social function for literature in these societies, and from the inter-linguistic circulation of literary texts among regional non-European languages and between these languages and European languages. The effect of these may be termed--with reference to Bourdieu's theory of cultural capital--the emergence of an autonomous field of literary production; a field no longer deriving legitimacy from sacred or theological utility, nor from accordance to a sovereign's pleasure, but from an entirely self-sufficient system of values and legitimization.

The production of Alf Layla wa Layla/Arabian Nights/Hizar a Yik Shab , emerges from a constellation of textual transactions, enabled through colonial institutions, to circulate within French and English readerships (themselves rife with anxieties over the value of the text) and "return" to its "source"--be that of Arab or Persian origin--to legitimize the emergence of autonomous fields of Arabic and Persian literary production. Similarly, the fictional travel narratives of James Morier ( Hajji Baba Ispahani ), Muhammad al-Muwaylih[dotbelow]i ( Fitra min al-Zaman: H[dotbelow]adith `Isa ibn Hisham ), Zayn al-Abedin Maraghih'i ( Safarnamih-yi Ibrahim Bayk ), and the travelogues of Haji Sayyah[dotbelow], Rifa'at Rifaa' al-T[dotbelow]aht[dotbelow]awi, and Mirza Salih[dotbelow] Shirazi, show how textual transactions enabled investigations into the nature of subjectivity and the institutions making up society, signaling the increasing autonomy of the act of writing, and reading. Ah[dotbelow]mad Faris al-Shidyaq's al-Saq `ala al-Saq makes innovative use of the print-book form as a literary response to the challenges to static religious, social and cultural identities, presenting a critical if irresolute literary imagination irresolvable within nationalist-novelist readings of the literary history of the period."

"Orientalism in translation: The one thousand and one nights in 18th century France and 19th century England
by Bouagada, Habib, M.A., University of Ottawa (Canada), 2005 , 120 pages; AAT MR11223
Abstract (Summary)

The objective of this study is to show how translation contributes to the "Orientalist" project and to the past and present knowledge of the Orient as it has been shaped by different disciplines such as anthropology, history and literature. In order to demonstrate this, I have decided to compare the Arabic text Alf Leyla wa Leyla (The One Thousand and One Nights) with the French translation by Antoine Galland (1704-1706) and the English translation by Sir Richard Burton (1885).

According to Edward Said, the Orientalist project or Orientalism is mainly a French and British cultural enterprise that has produced a wide-ranging wealth of knowledge about an Orient that has been represented as an undifferenciated entity with despotism, splendour, cruelty, or even sensuality being its main attributes.

I have chosen these translations because they come from places with a long Orientalist tradition. In 18 th century France, the age of the Belles infidèles , Galland is a man of the Enlightenment who appears to be a precursor of Orientalism as embodied in Montesquieu's Lettres persanes and Votaire's zadig . A century later, Burton's The Arabian Nights , backed by a deep knowledge of Islam, is published. Burton is an official in the service of the British Empire---an empire that takes pride in having the highest number of Muslim subjects.

The evolution of Alf Leyla wa Leyla and its translations is followed by an analysis of the shifts applied to the representations of Oriental elements found in it (social and religious practices). These shifts as well as the annotations that refer to Arabo-Islamic culture are related to Galland and Burton's intellectual development and to the socio-historical context of their respective translations."

"Mirrors of ink and wonderful lamps: The "Arabian Nights" in Victorian and postmodern literature
by Parreiras-Horta, Luis Paulo, Ph.D., University of Toronto (Canada), 2004 , 286 pages; AAT NQ94324
Abstract (Summary)

Recent scholarship has attributed the popularity of the Arabian Nights tales in the Arabic-speaking world to the fulfillment of expectations of worldly justice and reward rather than to the presence of magic. In contrast, this study finds that the tales' reception in late-imperial and postmodern English letters is governed by a disregard for their possible ethical and historical claims. This unmooring of the practice of translation from notions of fidelity and authenticity is precisely what attracted the postmodern writers Barth and Rushdie to the Pre-Raphaelite and Decadent texts of FitzGerald and Burton.

This study first situates Victorian translations of the Nights and Khayyam's Rubaiyat with recourse to previously unknown sources, including letters exchanged between the various translators and Pre-Raphaelite and Decadent poets and the 'foul papers' for Burton's Nights . This evidence suggests Lane alone among the translators was attentive to the claims of history and ethics on his material, while FitzGerald, Payne and Burton preferred Pre-Raphaelite and Decadent methods of translation that privileged sound over sense. Yet even Lane's notes to the Nights , which had informed Thomas Carlyle and George Eliot's respective interests in Islam and the occult, would later be gutted to suit the imperialist sentiment that accompanied Britain's invasion of Egypt in 1882. This reception attests to the power of Western institutions to reshape Eastern texts as foreseen by Said in Orientalism .

However, current postcolonial scholarship is less useful in understanding Burton and FitzGerald's influence on Barth and Rushdie. Barth's seminal postmodern prose and Rushdie's early postcolonial musings date to the sixties and mid seventies when reissues of Burton and FitzGerald's Eastern translations were in vogue in counter-cultural circles. In his prose Barth sought to rewrite Burton's notes rather than the original tales, and Rushdie privileged FitzGerald's Khayyam as exemplary of a positive conception of the migrant or 'translated man.' The influence of Said's Orientalism would prompt both writers to be more self-conscious about their use of Victorian translations of Eastern texts, but they would not altogether forsake a constructive engagement with this Victorian tradition in The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor and The Satanic Verses ."

"Orientalism and Romanticism: A historical dialectical relationship
by Abdelwahed, Said Ibrahim, Ph.D., Duquesne University, 1992 , 324 pages; AAT 9300159
Abstract (Summary)

This study is about the relationship between Orientalism and Romanticism. Chapter one reviews the cultural and economic dimensions of Orientalism and develops a historical strategy for investigating the Western portrayal of the Semitic East from the Crusades to the twentieth century.

Chapter two examines Orientalist ideas in major Romantic poems. These poems are Wordsworth's "Book V" of The Prelude, Byron's "Canto V" of Don Juan, Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Keats' The Eve of St. Agnes, and Scott's "The Crusader Returned." Wordsworth is believed to have read the pre-Islamic Arabic epics, and the Arabian Nights. His admiration of the Arabian Nights derived from its uniqueness and non-Western "spicy" atmosphere, its exoticism, and exceptional flavor. Byron is a prominent Orientalist Romantic poet who often portrays Middle Eastern culture in a negative light. Coleridge is believed to have plagiarized ideas and images from the Arabian Nights. Keats' imagination is drawn to the Middle East as a cheap source of poetic material and a good market place for English industrial production. Scott reconstructs Europe's Medieval past and undermines Islamic culture.

Chapter three studies various Middle Eastern images portrayed in some Romantic novels. The novels studied are Beckford's Vathek, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Scott's The Betrothed and Count Robert of Paris. Beckford lays the foundation stone for a new phase of Orientalism--Romantic Orientalism. In Frankenstein, Shelley proves a clear misunderstanding of the culture of the Middle East and she underestimates the value of the Muslim woman whose image she has taken from Percy Bysshe Shelley's Alastor. Moreover, Mary Shelley reflects Byronic ideas about the Middle East. Scott reconstructs Europe's history to revive racist ideas--common in the Middle Ages--of the Semitic East.

This study shows that when Romanticism as a literary movement came to life and flourished, Orientalism as a comprehensive European movement was mature and well established; it exerted an insurmountable influence over Romantic writers inside and outside England. The mutual admiration, love, respect and affinity between Romanticism and Orientalism make it impossible to study either of these two historical movements separately, as they have been thoroughly integrated into a historical dialectical relationship."

""Arabian Nights": Its background, its development as an original play, and the influence of the "Nights" on English literature and drama. (with Original writing);
by Hassan, Kaied Filfil, Ph.D., Texas Tech University, 1991 , 141 pages; AAT 9217278
Abstract (Summary)

In the Arabic and Islamic culture there is the legend Alf Layla Wa Layla, "The Thousand and One Nights," or the Arabian Nights Entertainments, the title usually used in English to refer to a group of tales that are adapted and formalized by storytellers. For hundreds of years these stories were handed down orally from generation to generation by the storytellers of the Arabs and Persians.

The rich imaginative power of the Nights has kept their hold on European imagination since its first translation in the opening of the eighteenth century to this day. The Arabian Nights' stories exercised an influence on English writing, particularly on drama and romantic fiction, making a profound impression that led to a series of imitations and adaptations. Through variations upon its plots and characters, the Nights has produced different exciting tales. Since the main function of drama is to tell a story, these stories could be a treasure for writing and dramatizing works for the stage.

The main portion of this dissertation is the text of an original play Arabian Nights, adapted and dramatized from some of these stories."

"A Victorian "Arabian Nights" adventure: A study in intertextuality
by Workman, Nancy Victoria, Ph.D., Loyola University of Chicago, 1989 , 293 pages; AAT 8912722
Abstract (Summary)

This study examines the referential relationship, or intertextuality, that exists between selected Victorian texts and a collection of medieval fairy tales, the Arabian Nights or The Thousand and One Nights. It argues that many Victorian writers used the imagery, themes, and narrative structures from this collection in their own work, and that a recognition of this relationship enriches the reader's understanding of individual texts, as well as the manner by which texts create "literary language" as they borrow and refer to one another.

To establish these relationships, chapter one discusses the "text" of the Arabian Nights and problems of critical inquiry regarding intertextuality. It establishes the rationale for using biographical information to corroborate textual evidence of citation, and it challenges the position on intertextuality advanced by Julia Kristeva and Roland Barthes. Relying on a critical methodology suggested by Laurent Jenny in "The Strategy of Form," the dissertation examines representative types of intertextual relationships.

For example, chapter two analyzes how Charles Dickens used frequent allusions to the Nights in all his work. The allusions follow recognizable patterns and evoke one of the main themes in the collection, the power of storytelling to ransom the imaginative self from extinction. Chapter three addresses how two major poets of the era, Christina Rossetti and William Morris, used stories from the Nights as the source material from which they wrote their own adaptations. Rossetti took two long narrative poems which she condensed into her own short "The Dead City," whereas Morris greatly expanded a short story into "The Man Who Never Laughed Again," a selection from The Earthly Paradise. Chapter four demonstrates how Charlotte Bronte used subtexts from the Nights in creating her Angrian saga and her later mature work, Jane Eyre. Finally, chapter five examines George Meredith's The Shaving of Shagpat, a book length imitation of the Nights which borrows many fictional elements from the earlier work. Each chapter emphasizes how Victorian writing is permeated with the sounds and textures of Eastern contributions."

by SHELTAG, HUSSEIN ABDUL-AZIM, Ph.D., University of Exeter (United Kingdom), 1989 , 242 pages; AAT DX89311
Abstract (Summary)

Available from UMI in association with The British Library.

Throughout history there have been interactions between England and the East. These connections were probably at their most extensive in the nineteenth century. The origins of these links are to be found in the First Crusade of 1096. The opportunities created by the crusaders permitted a mutual development of commercial links, political allegiances and literary communications. The first of these literary connections were the stories of the Arabian Nights heard by the crusaders and then recounted orally on their return to Europe. These tales soon penetrated into the popular literature of France and England. Thus, Giovanni Boccaccio is reputed to have incorporated ideas from these tales in his Decameron, and Geoffrey Chaucer's The Squire's Tale also contains close parallels with some Arabian tales.

The Elizabethan era witnessed a new direction in the relationship between England and the East. This was largely due to the general climate of the Renaissance, which encouraged new trade routes, exploration and colonization. There was a political purpose attached to the establishment of new trade routes and contacts. This is reflected in the founding of the Levant Company in 1581, which opened new channels of information for traders, scholars, diplomats and official envoys. These interests combined to extend the sphere of English foreign policy, and had the associated effect of arousing great curiosity in England about the East. It also initiated several works concerning the Eastern peoples. These included Richard Knolles' The General History of the Turks and William Painter's Palace of Pleasure, both of which acquired immense popularity and became major sources of information on the East. They were a particularly useful source of material for the Elizabethan dramatists. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)"

"Shahrazade's wake: The "Arabian Nights" and the narrative dynamics of Charles Dickens and James Joyce
by Power, Henriette Lazaridis, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1988 , 295 pages; AAT 8816216
Abstract (Summary)

Dickens and Joyce follow in the wake of Shahrazade, retracing and reviving the structures of her Arabian Nights tales. They also conduct a wake for this female storyteller, warding off the ghosts of her narration. As wakers of the Nights, Dickens and Joyce adopt a dual stance towards that Persian text: they change what they intend to repeat, and challenge the ghosts they pretend to revere. In their retelling of the Nights, Dickens and Joyce reveal their differing conceptions of the power of the reader and the female teller in the production of narrative.

The Arabian Nights is known as the text of Shahrazade's life-saving narration. But more important to Dickens and Joyce is the text's representation of gender and gesture. Shahrazade's subversion of the King's sexual and verbal power results from her digressive storytelling, and from her gestured narration of the tales for her sister; as the King watches, he becomes a voyeur whose power is compromised. Gender, gesture, and voyeurism are also significant to the pantomime versions of the Nights which Dickens and Joyce see as part of its text. In the spoken and the staged Nights, narrative becomes an exchange of power between male and female, word and body.

The first two chapters concern the treatment of the female storyteller in a range of Dickens' texts and in Joyce's later works. Dickens figures the female teller as a rival whose text must be silenced or coded by the narrator as inferior to Dickens' own. Joyce, however, uses what he represents as a female grammar to suspend the articulation of his text into coded meanings. Following an analysis of the pantomime, the last two chapters discuss Joyce's use of gestural language and voyeurism to involve the reader in the production of the text, and Dickens' use of the same elements in order to control the reader's interpretation.

This analysis of the borrowing and burying of the Nights enables a re-evaluation of the two writers' narrative dynamics: Joyce's work requires the reader it appears to alienate, while Dickens' minimizes the reader he seems to court."

by PINAULT, DAVID, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 1986 , 435 pages; AAT 8614849
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation comprises a literary analysis of selected tales from the Alf laylah wa-laylah (The Thousand and One Nights), in which I collate texts from the nineteenth-century editions of MacNaghten (Calcutta II) and Bulaq and compare these two editions with the recently published Galland MS (BN 3609-3611), which has been edited by Muhsin Mahdi. I address the hitherto largely neglected area of "microstructural" analysis of the Alf laylah by attempting a line-by-line examination of the Arabic text of several tales from the collection, with the end in mind of defining and cataloguing characteristic stylistic techniques used by various redactors. As I compare differing versions of given stories, I coin terms (such as "repetitive designation" and "dramatic visualization") to describe these techniques as they are variously employed in Bulaq, MacNaghten and Galland.

In collating the three Arabic editions I found that they frequently diverge very sharply from each other in the staging of scenes within a given tale; furthermore, no one edition is consistently superior to another in its display of literary craftsmanship. Thus, for example, the Galland MS's version of the Scheherazade story shows better plot structure than the version found in Bulaq or MacNaghten; while the latter two texts are much more carefully developed thematically than G in those passages which comprise the inner frame of "The Tale of the First Lady" and are more coherent in their use of descriptive detail in important scenes from "The Two Viziers." On the basis of such findings I take issuse with the view expressed by Mahdi in his edition of the Galland MS, where he dismisses Bulaq and MacNaghten as abridged and inferior versions of Galland; for in some stories Bulaq and MacNaghten offer readings which are fuller and better crafted than Galland's. One can appreciate stylistic differences among the three editions only when one abandons sweeping critical generalizations and engages with the text in a process of close reading; for comparison of Bulaq, MacNaghten, and Galland on an individualized story-by-story basis demonstrates that the literary quality of the Alf laylah collection varies widely from tale to tale even within a single given edition."

"Nineteenth-century English criticism of the Arabian Nights
by Ali, Muhsin Jassim, Ph.D., Dalhousie University (Canada), 1978; AAT NK38370"

by SHAW, SHEILA G., Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College, 1959; AAT 0210413"

by ANNAN, MARGARET C., Ph.D., Northwestern University, 1946 , 292 pages; AAT 0160278"

Friday, July 17, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

WWSD - Suing the Genie

I've seen this article (linked below) recently being passed around on facebook and on the blogs and am more and more convinced that Saidian Orientalism is a big part of the Nights phenomenon and their draw in the "West."

Its humor is inherently perpetuating cultural superiority (ie look at these silly people, they really think the 1001 Nights is real) and if you take that aspect away the article becomes just another uninteresting piece of information, you could probably find several hundred similar lawsuits weekly in the US but passing on that wouldn't have the same effect.

What do you think?

SAUDI ARABIA: A lawsuit against a genie
-- Jeffrey Fleishman in Cairo
07:00 AM PT, Jul 13 2009

read the whole article:

"A family in Saudi Arabia has filed suit in a religious court against an unnamed genie, or jinn, who sounds most unpleasant: It steals cellphones, whispers threats and occasionally flings stones.

“We began to hear strange sounds,” a family member who requested anonymity told the Saudi daily Al Watan. “At first we did not take it seriously, but then stranger things started to happen, and the children got particularly scared when the genie started throwing stones.”

The genie -- or genies -- had demands: “A woman spoke to me first, and then a man. They said we should get out of the house,” said the family member, adding that his clan fled their home near the city of Medina.

Jinns and genies are spirits born out of fire that have supernatural powers. They appear in the Koran and Arab mythology, creatures living between humanity and the elements. One of their most famous incarnations lived in Aladdin’s lamp. "

flans - mil y una noches

wiki: "Flans" was a Mexican pop music group, which enjoyed great popularity from the mid-1980s to early 1990s. Its members were female singers Ivonne Margarita Guevara García, Ilse María Olivo Schweinfurth (known simply as "Ilse") and Irma Angélica Hernández Ochoa, "Mimí"; they're usually referred to by their first names, Ivonne, Ilse and Mimí.

Here's their Nights related hit "Mil y Una Noches" from 1987:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Jason Grote's "1001" @ UCSD, Georgetown & in Print

Both Jason Grote's 1001 and Mary Zimmerman's stage version of the Nights are enjoying extensions at the various US theaters they have been playing at.

Jason Grote's play, which I was fortunate enough to both read pre-publication and see here at UCSD last year, is a humorous, fast-paced post-post-pre-modernistic take on the Nights which I found compelling and refreshing. One of the few "versions" of the Nights to go for what Pasolini calls the "flower" of the Nights, its essence vs. its literal (ultimately false) self.

Grote places the settings of the Nights in contemporary and past settings, meshing time in such a concatenated fashion that you are never really sure exactly what year it is. The stories from the Nights include the frame story and suggestions to several others but also veer off into contemporary US (and "Arab") political and cultural landscapes including 9/11 with a guest spot by Osama bin Laden and a problematic college love affair between a Jewish student from New York and a Palestinian student with roots in Kuwait.

The UCSD version I saw featured a great looking set in a small (100-person) space (see the label "grote" on this blog for more info about the production) and also some great music played by a visible "club" type of DJ standing on some scaffolding.

The scaffolding allowed for a dual level effect which worked well in certain scenes in which the stories meshed or a tower or apartment building was needed and the various entrances and exits of the theater allowed for seamless scene changes during brief blackouts. I also enjoyed the smallness of the theater, it's always a bit surprising to watch a play because of the immediacy of the actors to your own physical body and both the UCSD production and Grote's writing utilize the effect of being an actual participant in the play itself (without anyone calling on you to dance or anything chessy like that). There was even smoking! Is the theater the last place people can smoke cigarettes anymore?

All in all it was and is a great reproduction of the key elements of the Nights.

If you haven't you should buy a copy of the play affordable and available from the very well known theater publisher Samuel French here:

The latest incarnation of 1001 is still running at The Rorschach Theatre in Washington DC. (

and they made a cool preview/trailer for it available on youtube:

Here's an interview with the director Randy Baker as well: