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History Through Literature: Collected Stories

1001 Nights
December 6, 2008

ORIAS WORKING GROUP 2009

Timeline

Resources

Translation samples

Content standards

 

 

 

manuscript image
1001 Nights
, 14th c. Syria, 3 vol., tome II.

 

 

 

 

 

 

lang illustration

From The Arabian Nights Entertainments . Andrew Lang, ed.. Illust. by Rene Bull, H. J. Ford and W. Heath Robinson. 1898.

TOPIC: 1001 Nights

SPEAKER: Margaret Larkin, Professor of Arabic Literature, Dept. of Near Eastern Studies, UCB

WHERE: 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor - U. C. Berkeley

WHEN: Saturday, December 6, 2008 - 10:00AM - 1:00PM

Registration required - space is limited.

READING (from Payne translation - Prof. Larkin notes that the Husain Haddawy translation is far superior and I will distribute it at the session - Michele):

  • Frame prologue and Tale of Ox and Donkey (8 pages)
    http://orias.berkeley.edu/2009/Payne_FramePlusOx&Ass.pdf

  • Merchant and the Genie (7 pages)
    http://orias.berkeley.edu/2009/Payne_Merchant&Demon.pdf

    1. The First Old Man’s Story
    2. The Second Old Man’s Story
    3. The Third Old Man’s Story

  • The Fisherman and the Genie (21 pages)
    http://orias.berkeley.edu/2009/Payne_Fisherman.pdf
    1. Story of the Physician Douban
      1. Story of King Sindead and His Falcon
      2. Story of the King’s Son and the Ogress
    2. Story of the Enchanted Youth

  • The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad (50 pages)
    1. The First Calender’s Story
    2. The Second Calender’s Story
      1. Story of the Envier and the Envied
    3. The Third Calender’s Story
    4. The Eldest Lady’s Story
    5. The Story of the Portess

A brief timeline 1001 Nights, Jataka Tales and other story collections and events on the trade routes. (Delattre)

It is important to keep in mind that these collections of stories-within-stories are intimately connected to the oral tradition and are continually changing and swapping stories in between their “fixed” appearances in print.

6th century BCE Aesop lives in ancient Greece (according to Herodotus)
326 BCE Alexander the Great invades Indian subcontinent.
c563 - c480 BCE Life of Buddha
5th century BCE

Oldest surviving version of the Jataka (tales about Buddha’s many incarnations as Bodhisattva, some in non-human form).

c 300 BC First Greek collection of Aesop's fables said to have been written by Phalereus.
c 25 BC - 25 BCE Phadreus' Latin translation of Aesop's Fables
5th century?

Panchatantra (“Five Books”- animal fables) composed in Sanskrit no later than the 5th century with roots in much older oral tradition.

  The Jataka, Panchatantra, and Aesop all share some stories. Where the folktales originated and how they traveled is debated.
c550

Persian version of Panchatantra

c750

Arabic translation from Persian Panchatantra published under title Kalila wa Dimna (which in turn becomes the source for nearly all versions circulated in medieval Europe as Fables of Bidpai.)

750

Beginning of Abbasid dynasty of caliphs. (Map of Abbasid Caliphate and fragmentation, 786 to 1194)

762-6 Baghdad is founded and becomes Abbasid capital. (Map of Abbasid Caliphate 786-809)
786 to 809 Reign of Hārūn al-Rashīd, the most famous Abbasid Caliph (appears as idealized character in 1001 Nights).
8th or early 9th
century
Arabic translation of Persian Hazar Afsana ("A Thousand Tales") - Hazar Afsana considered the source of the Arabic title Alf Layla wa-Layla ("Thousand nights and one night") and frame story of Shahrazad and Shahrayar and division into nights. Arab stories are added.
1099 First Crusade begins rule in Jerusalem.
c. 1160 Lais of Marie de France
13th c Syrian and Egyptian stories are added.
1258 Mongols sack Baghdad.
1300s Earliest example of the Syrian branch of the surviving Nights manuscripts is written.
1354 Boccaccio’s Decameron
1387 Chaucer begins Canterbury Tales
1403 Gutenberg Press version of Panchatantra under the title, Buch der Beyspiele (book of examples).
1697 Perrault publishes Mother Goose (Les Contes de ma Mère l'Oie) introducing fairy tales as genre
1704-1717  Galland’s French translation, Les Mille it une nuits . First large set of tales brought to W. Europe.
1798-1801  French occupation of Egypt.
1812 Grimms' Fairy Tales published

1838-1841

First publication of Edward Lane's English translation - The Arabian Nights Entertainments
(Mary Zimmerman's source for Arabian Nights?)
1855-8

Sir Richard Francis Burton’s English translation - Arabian Nights Entertainments

1882-1884 John Payne's English translation Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night (nine volumes)
1898 Andrew Lang's The Arabian Nights (juvenile edition based on Galland)
1901 John Payne, The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night.
1978 Albert B. Lord’s Singer of Tales – Study of oral tradition.
1979 Edward Said's Orientalism - Critique of the West's romanticizing of the "exotic" Orient (Asia and the Middle East)
1984 Mahdi’s critical edition of Alf Layla wa-Layla.
1990 Husain Haddawy's English translation (The Arabian Nights) from Muhsin Mahdi 1984 Arabic version
1992 Disney's film, Aladdin
2000 Hallmark TV miniseries Arabian Nights

   


illustration from fisherman story

 

 

image from Dixon edition

J. D. Batten, Illus. Dixon, More Fairy
Tales from the Arabian Nights
, 1893.

Sample translations of the Fisherman's Tale opening: (For complete texts and references see the bibliography links below.)

Lane: Third Night

There was a certain fisherman, advanced in age, who had a wife and three children; and though he was in indigent circumstances, it was his custom to cast his net, every day, no more than four times. One day he went forth at the hour of noon to the shore of the sea, and put down his basket, and cast his net, and waited until it was motionless in the water, when he drew together its strings, and found it to be heavy: he pulled, but could not draw it up: so he took the end of the cord, and knocked a stake into the shore, and tied the cord to it. He then stripped himself, and dived round the net, and continued to pull until he drew it out: whereupon he rejoiced, and put on his clothes; but when he came to examine the net, he found in it the carcass of an ass. At the sight of this he mourned, and exclaimed, There is no strength nor power but in God, the High, the Great! This is a strange piece of fortune! —And he repeated the following verse: —

O thou who occupiest thyself in the darkness of night, and in peril!
Spare thy trouble; for the support of Providence is not obtained by toil!

Burton: Chapter III

It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that there was a Fisherman well stricken in years who had a wife and three children, and withal was of poor condition. Now it was his custom to cast his net every day four times, and no more. On a day he went forth about noontide to the sea shore, where he laid down his basket; and, tucking up his shirt and plunging into the water, made a cast with his net and waited till it settled to the bottom. Then he gathered the cords together and haled away at it, but found it weighty; and however much he drew it landwards, he could not pull it up; so he carried the ends ashore and drove a stake into the ground and made the net fast to it. Then he stripped and dived into the water all about the net, and left not off working hard until he had brought it up. He rejoiced thereat and, donning his clothes, went to the net, when he found in it a dead jackass which had torn the meshes. Now when he saw it, he exclaimed in his grief, "There is no Majesty, and there is no Might save in Allah the Glorious, the Great!" Then quoth he, "This is a strange manner of daily bread;" and he began re citing in extempore verse:--

O toiler through the glooms of night in peril and in pain
Thy toiling stint for daily bread comes not by might and main!
Seest thou not the fisher seek afloat upon the sea
His bread, while glimmer stars of night as set in tangled skein.
Anon he plungeth in despite the buffet of the waves
The while to sight the bellying net his eager glances strain;
Till joying at the night's success, a fish he bringeth home
Whose gullet by the hook of Fate was caught and cut in twain.
When buys that fish of him a man who spent the hours of night
Reckless of cold and wet and gloom in ease and comfort fain,
Laud to the Lord who gives to this, to that denies his wishes
And dooms one toil and catch the prey and other eat the fishes.

Payne: Third Night

There was once a poor fisherman, who was getting on in years and had a wife and three children; and it was his custom every day to cast his net four times and no more. One day he went out at the hour of noon and repaired to the sea-shore, where he set down his basket and tucked up his skirts and plunging into the sea, cast his net and waited till it had settled down in the water. Then he gathered the cords in his hand and found it heavy and pulled at it, but could not bring it up. So he carried the end of the cords ashore and drove in a stake, to which he made them fast. Then he stripped and diving round the net, tugged at it till he brought it ashore. Whereat he rejoiced and landing, put on his clothes; but when he came to examine the net, he found in it a dead ass; and the net was torn. When he saw this, he was vexed and said: 'There is no power and no virtue save in God the Most High, the Supreme! This is indeed strange luck!' And he repeated the following verses:

O thou that strivest in the gloom of darkness and distress, Cut short thine efforts, for in strife alone lies not success! Seest not the fisherman that seeks his living in the sea, Midmost the network of the stars that round about him press! Up to his midst he plunges in: the billows buffet him; But from the bellying net his eyes cease not in watchfulness; Till when, contented with his night, he carries home a fish, Whose throat the hand of Death hath slit with trident pitiless, Comes one who buys his prey of him, one who has passed the night, Safe from the cold, in all delight of peace and blessedness. Praise be to God who gives to this and cloth to that deny! Some fish, and others eat the fish caught with such toil and stress.

Husain Haddawy: The Eight Night

It is related that there was a very old fisherman who had a wife and three daughters and who was so poor that they did not have even enough food for the day. It was this fisherman’s custom to cast his net four times a day. One day, while the moon was still up, he went out with his net at the call for the early morning prayer. He reached the outskirts of the city and come to the seashore. Then he set down his basket, rolled up his shirt, and waded to his waist in the water. He cast his net and waited for it to sink; then he gathered the rope and started to pull. As he pulled little by little, he felt that the net was getting heavier until he was unable to pull any further. He climbed ashore, drove a stake into the ground, and tied the end of the rope into he stake. Then he took off his clothes, dove into the water, and went around the net, shaking it and tugging at it until he managed to pull it ashore. Feeling extremely happy, he put on his clothes and went back to the net. But when he opened it, he found inside a dead donkey, which had torn it apart. The fisherman felt sad and depressed and said to himself, “There is no power and no strength save in God, the Almighty, the Magnificent,” adding, “Indeed, this is a strange catch!” Then he began to recite the following verses:

O you who brave the danger in the dark,
Reduce your toil, for gain is not in work.
Look at the fisherman who labors at his trade,
As the stars in the night their orbits make,
And deeply wades into the raging sea,
Steadily gazing at the swelling net,
Till he returns, pleased with his nightly catch,
A fish whose mouth the hook of death has cut,
And sells it to a man who sleeps the night,
Safe from the cold and blessed with every wish.
Praised be the Lord who blesses and withholds:
This casts the net, but that one eats the fish.

Lang: Chapter V

Sire, there was once upon a time a fisherman so old and so poor that he could scarcely manage to support his wife and three children. He went every day to fish very early, and each day he made a rule not to throw his nets more than four times. He started out one morning by moonlight and came to the sea-shore. He undressed and threw his nets, and as he was drawing them towards the bank he felt a great weight. He though he had caught a large fish, and he felt very pleased. But a moment afterwards, seeing that instead of a fish he only had in his nets the carcase of an ass, he was much disappointed.

McCaughrean: Chapter V

The fisherman was well known hereabouts (said Shahrazad) though I forget his exact name. He used to be a familiar sight on the beach, throwing his net into the surf to catch bass and mullet. He was almost as old as he was poor, but his faith and trust in Allah comforted him.

Arriving at the sea shore and starting to work, he looked at the sky and said:

'O Allah who sends some days red with mullet and others silver with bass and still more black with mud, is it to be a day of the third kind? My net is caught on the bottom, Allah."

When he finally dragged the net ashore, he found nothing in it but a dead donkey.

Resources

maxfield parrish illustration

Maxfield Parrish illustration

 


Husain Haddawy, trans. The Arabian Nights. WW. Norton & Co. , 1990 (Everyman's Library, 1992.)

Robert Irwin. The Arabian Nights, A Companion. First published by Penguin Press, 1994. Reprinted in 2005 by Tauris Parke Paperbacks.

Geraldine McCaughrean. One Thousand and One Arabian Nights. Oxford University Press, 1982. (Good middle school student version.)

ONLINE

arabian nights barbie image

Barbie Arabian Nights #874 (1964-1965)

Borrowing for the English language:

Barmecidal: (\bahr-muh-SYE-dul\ )  : providing only the illusion of abundance

Example Sentence
The tax rebate is a Barmecidal windfall, coming as it does in the wake of new hidden taxes on consumer goods and services.
"Barmecide" is the name of a family of princes in a tale from The Thousand and One Nights (also known as The Arabian Nights' Entertainment). One prince in the family torments a beggar by inviting him to a fabulous feast, at which all the dishes are imaginary. The poor man plays along with his malicious host, pretending to get drunk on the imaginary wine; he then gets even by knocking down the patronizing royal.

Some relevant content standards for 1001 Nights:

7th grade H/SS:

7.2 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the civilizations of Islam in the Middle Ages.

5. Describe the growth of cities and the establishment of trade routes among Asia, Africa, and Europe, the products and inventions that traveled along these routes (e.g., spices, textiles, paper, steel, new crops), and the role of merchants in Arab society.
6. Understand the intellectual exchanges among Muslim scholars of Eurasia and Africa and the contributions Muslim scholars made to later civilizations in the areas of science, geography, mathematics, philosophy, medicine, art, and literature.

7.8 Students analyze the origins, accomplishments, and geographic diffusion of the Renaissance.

4. Describe the growth and effects of new ways of disseminating information (e.g., the ability to manufacture paper, translation of the Bible into the vernacular, printing).

7.11 Students analyze political and economic change in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries (the Age of Exploration, the Enlightenment, and the Age of Reason).

2. Discuss the exchanges of plants, animals, technology, culture, and ideas among Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and the major economic and social effects on each continent.

Language Arts – grades 11,12. 
Literary Response and Analysis

3.6 Analyze the way in which authors through the centuries have used archetypes drawn from myth and tradition in literature, film, political speeches, and religious writings (e.g., how the archetypes of banishment from an ideal world may be used to interpret Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth).

ORIAS Working Groups are established to provide professional development support for K-11 and community college teachers with shared interests in international studies. The working groups provide teachers with the opportunity to extend their content knowledge by participating in seminars with University scholars; meeting with colleagues to share resources and experiences; and working independently or collaboratively on classroom materials with ORIAS staff.

Co-sponsored by the Office of Resources for International and Area Studies (ORIAS), the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and the Center for South Asia Studies at U. C. Berkeley, and the Institute of East Asian Studies.

For further information contact Michele Delattre at ORIAS: 510-643-0868 or oriasberkeley.edu