Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Pasolini's film version of the Nights is one of the few versions, filmic or otherwise, of the story collection dealing explicitly with the sexual nature of the stories and also includes some relatively unknown stories from the Nights (no Ali Baba, Aladdin or Sinbad!) which I suspect comes at the prompting of Burton.
In his "Terminal Essay" Burton writes:
"The pederasty of The Nights may briefly be distributed into three categories. The first is the funny form, as the unseemly practical joke of masterful Queen Budur (vol. iii. 300-306) and the not less hardi jest of the slave-princess Zumurrud (vol. iv. 226). The second is in the grimmest and most earnest phase of the perversion, for instance where Abu Nowas  debauches the three youths (vol. v. 64-69); whilst in the third form it is wisely and learnedly discussed, to be severely blamed, by the Shaykhah or Reverend Woman (vol. v. 154)."
Pasolini uses stories from both "Zumurrud" and "Abu Nowas" and incorporates and makes much use of the blurry lines between what constitutes homosexual and heterosexual sexuality.
I doubt that Pasolini read the entirety of Burton and picked those stories at random, it seems more likely that Burton's essay prompted Pasolini to take a closer look at those particular stories instead.