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The "1,001 Arabian Nights" is a collection of stories, likely from various locales over a long period of time.

1001 Nights

Tales from 1,001 Nights shed light on a different world for modern readers. Although highly fictionalized, even fantastic, the stories reflect social mores, political structures, family life, and daily occupations of another time and place, while simultaneously connecting to human concerns like the desires for happiness and justice, the presence of negative emotions like jealousy and anger, inequity and misunderstanding between genders, and the morality of those in power.

KRISTIN DORSEY, Associate Professor of Humanities/English at Central Oregon Community College,

700-1200 CE

The oldest extant manuscript of these stories is Syrian and provided the basis for the first printed version of the stories, published in France by Antoine Galland between 1704 and 1718 in twelve volumes. Beyond that, the origins of the stories and reasons for their collection is unknown. A frame story connects the tales: a king finds his wife participating in an orgy, and he responds by flying into a murderous rage. He kills his wife and all of her slave girls, and then vows to take a woman each day for a wife, then kill her the next morning. 

The King’s vizier has a daughter, Shahrazad, who is both beautiful and clever, known for her storytelling abilities. Shahrazad volunteers to marry the King, over the objections of her father. She has a plan. Every night, before sleep, she will begin telling the King a story but not finish it, promising to do so the following night. Thus, she keeps herself alive for 1,001 nights, after which the King (who has come to rely on her counsel and has fathered several children with her), decides to spare her life. Shahrazad’s stories span all genres of oral tales including fables, fairy tales, legends, parables, horror and romances.

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How far back?

Point in Timeline | Post 500 CE

2020 | Present