Saturday, 30 May 2015

The Arabian Nights’ Entertainment – Townsend 1899

This book is purely about stories. It is not written in extraordinary language or fancy sentences – just bare stories. (this might be due to the translation though).

Stories are also the currency within this book: “The Sultan of Casgar fell into a passion against the Christian merchant. “Thou art a presumptuous fellow,” said he, “to tell me a story so little worth hearing and then to compare it to that of my jester. I will have you all four impaled, to revenge his death.
Hearing this, the purveyor (one of the four) prostrated himself at the sultan’s feet. “Sire,” said he, “I humble beseech your majesty to suspend your wrath and hear my story; and if it appears to be more extraordinary than that of your jester, to pardon us.” (Townsend, 1899, p.576).

Interestingly, despite stories being of such high value in this book, curiosity (and hence our desire to hear stories) is also described as dangerous: “But we entreat you to forbear opening the golden door; for if you do, we shall never see you again.” (Townsend, 1899, p.80).

The motor of a story only starts, when we try to shape our own destiny and don’t accept that this is in God’s hand. “”I see, Sir,” said I, addressing myself to Saadi, “that it has pleased God, whose ways are secret and impenetrable, that I should not be enriched by your liberality, but that I must remain poor; however, the obligation is the same as if it had wrought the desired effect.” (Townsend, 1899, p.254). “I upbraided myself a hundred times for not being content with the produce of my first voyage, that might have sufficed me all my life. But all this was in vain, and my repentance came too late. At last I resigned myself to the will of God.” (Townsend, 1899, p.407).

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