Robert Irwin


There is more political thought in the Nights than would appear at first sight. Political concerns are to the fore in the story collection’s exordium. Some of the stories can be seen as belonging to the mirror-for-princes genre and, if much of their content seems banal, this was usually true of the nonfictional essays in the genre. It is also true that philosophers sometimes used fables as vehicles for their thoughts on politics. Though criticism of tyranny and the positing of alternative societies are quite rare in Islamic literature, examples of both can be found in the Nights.