One Thousand and One Nights, in Hebrew

Israeli scholar Joseph Sadan has put together a new collection of stories based on The Thousand and One Nights. The author has written an introduction and an epilogue that attempt to explain the origins of the mythical stories and their various forms.

However, first of all, we must understand the nature of the link between “The Thousand and One Nights” and this “freshly baked” collection in Hebrew. “The Thousand and One Nights” are a collection of tales that began to coalesce in the ancient (Oriental) world, was reformulated during the Ottoman period and became an integral part of European culture in the first half of the 18th century – that is, an integral part of the Western canon. Nonetheless, as the introduction informs us, a universally accepted canonical text has yet to be formed with respect to these tales because they are an anthology of stories collected under a single rubric, or, to put it in “Sadanese”: They are a “framework that, from time to time, changes its contents and swallows up various stylized batches of dough.” What is more, in addition to the various popular versions of “The Thousand and One Nights,” there is a chaotic wealth of anthologies bearing a similar style, which have been granted colorful titles such as “The One Hundred and One Nights,” “The Thousand and One Days,” and even “A Thousand and One Quarter-Hours.” This collection is thus an additional “Thousand and One Nights” anthology based on the well-known narrative framework concerning Scheherazade, a narrative into which [Joseph Sadan] has “stuffed” tales that he has collected from various sources and periods (from the ancient era to the Ottoman period).

You can read the full Ha’aretz review here.

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