The Arabian Nights Stories: Summary & Overview Video

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  • 0:02 What Was ''The Arabian…
  • 0:48 The Actual Never-Ending Story
  • 1:58 Overview and Analysis
  • 2:43 The Arabian Nights Legacy
  • 3:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
This lesson summarizes 'The Arabian Nights' and discusses its impact on culture around the world. It also gives an interesting look into the Islamic world.

What Was The Arabian Nights?

The Arabian Nights is a story straight out of a romance novel. It's an epic collection of Arabic folk tales written during the Islamic Golden Age. Scorned by an unfaithful wife, Shahryar is the king of a great empire, but is brokenhearted. Shahryar chose to marry a new woman every day only to kill her the next morning. Needless to say, this did not make him a very popular ruler. More and more innocent women die until one day Scheherazade, The daughter of the king's top advisor, offers to marry the king. The king and advisor both protest, but Scheherazade insists, all knowing that the night could be her last. That night, she requests the presence of her sister and tells a story that manages to be the beginning of dozens of stories meant to keep her alive.

The Actual Never-Ending Story

The Arabian Nights is not an easy work to summarize. After all, another name for it is the One Thousand and One Nights! Scheherazade weaves a deep narrative, linking together stories into a rich tapestry of old legends and new tales. As you might expect from such an ancient text, there are a variety of routes over the years to the same result of Shahryar falling in love with Scheherazade and removing the threat of daily death from her life. Others have him seeing their children and realizing that he can't kill their mother. In any event, the two live happily ever after.

Shockingly, The Arabian Nights does not feature many of the stories that many of us associate with it. Neither Aladdin nor Sinbad make appearances. On the other hand, owing again to its multi-ethnic routes like historical heroes from the Islamic period, the Persian Empire, and even thinly-veiled references to the Hindu tales from India, instead, the structure of the tales relies heavily on frame stories, where different tales fit into a greater narrative. In fact, The Arabian Nights is almost like one of those Russian dolls that have smaller dolls inside them, with stories having other layers of stories within.

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