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Abstract

The essay treats a story found in many forms in Arabic literature, with the following basic structure: A man owns a slave-girl; they love each other; he becomes destitute and is forced to sell her; the new owner, aware of their attachment, magnanimously returns her to her previous owner. The Thousand and One Nights contains two such stories, as well as some others with closely related motifs. Many more versions, some of them virtually identical to those of the Nights, are found in works belonging to Arabic “polite” or “elite” literary culture, from the ninth century onward. An appendix offers summaries of several versions.

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