Reading Notes: Arabian Nights Part A


-Sultan is married to a wife whom he loves very much
-Discovers his wife had deceived him in terrible ways
-Carries out the law of the land by asking the Grand Vizier to out her to death
-Becomes convinced that all women are wicked at their core
-Decides to marry a fresh wife every evening and have her strangled in the morning
       -"Every day saw a girl married and a wife dead"
-Grand Vizier' had a daughter named Scheherezade who was clever, beautiful, and courageous
-She desires to stop the barbaric practice of the Sultan
-Asks to be married to him
-Her last wish is to have her sister with her to ask for a story before dawn
-And with the beginning of the story she begins her plan to save the girls of the land from the Sultan's terror
-Possible story idea: reversed gender roles (dead husbands)

The Story of the Merchant and the Genius
-A merchant sets out on a business journey
-Stops to rest under a tree
-A genius comes up to attack him for allegedly murdering his son
      -Claiming that a date pit he had thrown away had struck his son in the eye and killed him
-The merchant begs for a year to settle his affairs, after which he will return to be killed
-The merchant goes home and tells his family what has happened, and settles his affairs
-A year later the merchant returns to the tree
-Three old men show up in turn to sit with the merchant under the tree
-As the genius approaches to strike the merchant, everyone under the tree starts weeping
-One of the old men asks to tell a story so amazing he will want to spare the merchant's life, and the genius agrees to listen

The Hind
-A story within a story
-The old man telling the story to save the merchant's life mirrors Scheherezade's own predicament
-The hind is the old man's wife
-They had no children, and the man adopted his favorite slave's son as his own
-His jealous wife turned the mother and son into a cow and a calf while the old man was traveling
-Upon returning the wife told him the mother had died and the son had gone missing
-The feast of Bairam rolled around and a cow was ordered to be slaughtered
-The cow (who was once the mother) cried as the old man went to sacrifice her
-He felt pity and couldn't do it, ordering his steward to kill her
-She was skinny despite appearing fat
-A calf was then ordered to be slaughtered
-The calf brought was the man's son, who threw himself at the man so much he could not kill him
-Discovered through the steward's magically inclined daughter that the calf was his son
-She changed him back on the condition he would marry her
-Also punished the wife by turning her into a hind and condemning her to the fate she sought for the mother and child

An odalisque in the ballet Scheherezade. Source: Flickr


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