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Thousand and One Nights, The

Index: El Nesnás, El libro de los seres imaginarios, OCC,Obras completas en colaboración. Buenos Aires: Emecé, 1979. 672. Thomas Carlyle: De los héroes; Ralph Waldo Emerson: Hombres representativos,P,Prólogos. Buenos Aires: Torres Agüero, 1975. 34.
Type
T

Mil y una noches, Lane translation, 1840

Fishburn and Hughes: An anonymous collection of tales of Indian origin but of uncertain date translated into Persian and Arabic. Its nucleus was expanded with stories from Baghdad, anecdotes about rogues and tricksters from Cairo, and other independent tales, to make up a number intended originally as meaning simply 'a large quantity'. The stories can be divided into three kinds: 'histories', or long romances based on historical or allegedly historical events; anecdotes, short stories dealing with historical personages, mainly of the Abbasid Caliphate; and romances and romantic fiction. The last category can be subdivided into: stories which are purely romantic, making free use of the supernatural; stories which appear to be purely fictitious but which reproduce the habits and manners of the Abbasid Caliphate and the Eyonbite Sultans of Egypt; and - the largest category, from which most European authors have drawn inspiration - stories which are purely fictitious, and stories of miracles and saints. There are also moral stories and some tales which serve as an excuse for dissertations upon various subjects. The most striking characteristic of the book is the extreme simplicity of its style, which belies most Western readers' expectation of tales 'showering barbaric pearl and gold'. The Thousand and One Nights first became known in Europe during the eighteenth century. Borges was an avid reader of the work, which he declared 'superior to the Koran' for its imaginative power. He often referred to it in his fiction and wrote an essay on its various translations (TL 92-109). As a boy he found Burton's unexpurgated translation, published in London in 1885-8, in his father's library. This edition was considered pornographic at the time because of its illustrations and sexual references, and Borges claims he had to read it secretly in the attic but was too carried away by the splendour of the narrative to notice its erotic content. A number of other editions are also mentioned by Borges. Many aspects of the book fascinated him, such as the circular form of the narrative which makes it the eternal book, the idea of multiple stories told within the framework of a single story, and the disquieting effect of the story which includes its own story-telling. TL: in Vol. 10, 128-9, of Burton's Arabian Nights discusses the rise of Sufism (before 815 AD) and its influence upon Islamic thought and art. Burton defines 'Sufyism' as 'a revival of classic Platonism and Christian Gnosticism with a mingling of modern Hylozoism; which, quickened by the glowing imagination of the East, speedily formed itself into a creed the most poetical and impractical, the most spiritual and the most transcendental ever invented.' See Night of Nights, Scheherazade. Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius; The Garden of Forking Paths; The South