Both the general audience and scholars have chosen to emphasize some tales of the Thousand and One Nights more than others. In particular contemporary Western audiences may perceive some of the tales as lengthy in terms of plot development, as “rudimentary” or “inconsequential” in terms of action, or as repetitive in terms of narrative motifs. The present essay discusses in detail a tale of the Nights that at first sight risks to be taken as quite marginal and demonstrates that most of the tales in the Nights were included for good reasons. Analyzed against the backdrop of the narrative culture of their initial textualization and/or performance, the agenda justifying their inclusion and the underlying cultural concepts resonating in the mind of the storytellers (and their audiences) become obvious. Furthermore, the essay supports the argument that the anonymous narrators of the Nights were educated authors well versed in the narrative universe of their tradition. The storytelling techniques they employed—such as the introduction of tales that lack an apparent connection with the main narrative or the promise of tales that are not told—demonstrate their artistry in establishing an atmosphere of suspense that kept the audience attentive and alert. The concluding reflections turn to some of the presently discussed narratives in international tradition and illustrate how specific tales and narrative motifs were adapted so as to serve different ends and thus ensure their continuous tradition in changed contexts.
"Making Sense of the 'Nights': Intertextual Connections and Narrative Techniques in the 'Thousand and One Nights',"
Narrative Culture: Vol. 1
, Article 6.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/narrative/vol1/iss2/6