1001 Nights The Tale 2015/2016 – Seminar groups 2 and 3
Order of seminar • Lecture: overview and doubts? • Timeline of the texts seen in this module (so far!) • Intros by Dawood (1972) and Warner (2003) • Orientalism (E. Said) – video and discussion * break * • Close readings: ‘The Fisherman and the Jinni(/Jinnee/Demon)’ and ‘Sindbad the Sailor’ • Two aspects of the Nights: its translators (Borges) and its treatment of the sexes (Irwin)
Intro by N. J. Dawood (1972) • First thing that strikes the reader: ‘The folk-tales that… 1001 Nights’. • Origin: Indian, Persian, Arab. • ‘Lay and secular imagination’ (v. austere, erudite, refined Classical Arabic literature) • Style: ‘simple, almost colloquial’. • Sex, wine, etc.: unlike Islam. The Nights are illegitimate for the Arabs but crucial for the West. • The definitive texts… are its translations! (Galland, ‘Grub St version’, Torrens, Lane, Payne, Burton) • Galland’soriginal: 14c Syrian manuscripts (plus anonymous tales told by a monk from memory – see Borges) • Dawood on Burton: see page 10. ‘Gain’, ‘lost’, ‘excessive’, ‘weakness’, ‘unnatural’… • A comment on Dawood’s translation: ‘I must mention that the verses have been left out. Apart from the fact that they tend to obstruct the natural flow of the narrative, they are devoid of literary merit’.
Introby Marina Warner (2003) • Fate, destiny: moirae v. kismet. ‘Theprotagonist of theNightsisdestinyitself’. • Children’slit: fantasy and heterogeneity • Scheherezade: ‘anArabicPenelope’ • ‘From their first appearance in print – not manuscript – the tales mirrored Arab civilisation and mentality for the west, but at the same time communicated a fantastic European dream of Araby’. • ‘A hybrid, formed through cross fertilisation over time between Europe, Asia, and the middle east’. • Galland’s version (1704-1717). Brilliant translator and imitator. Contemporary of Charles Perrault (Contes: 1697). • Victorian translators: Lane and Burton. • The Nights feed on Arabic tradition, but also Mediterranean and European: Ovid, Apuleius, Boccaccio, Chaucer, Basileand Straparola. • ‘Conte’ as a genre: low literature, associated with the illiterate, women, and children. The same happens with the Nights. Arabic literature does not include it in its canon (first standard Arabic edition: 1984).
Galland’s ways Galland is a good example of what is called the ´Beautiful Infidels’ (‘Belles Infidèles’), a translatorial tradition of versions that are ‘corrected’ and ‘adapted’ to the target culture, by translators who are too aware of the superiority of their own culture.
Orientalism (E. Said) A body of assumptions and stereotypes that Western societies have, particularly since the colonial era, applied to the countries of an ‘exotic’ East.
In Said’s words ‘The Orient was almost a European invention, and had been since antiquity a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, remarkable experiences.’ Edward Said (‘Orientalism’, in The Edward Said Reader, p. 67)
People from the East (according to the West) • Weak • Feminine • Culturally backward • Shifty and untrustworthy • Exotic • Seductive • Unchanging • Biologically inferior to Westerners • Eager to be dominated • Silenced (by religious extremists, oppressive governments and the veiling of women) • Etc.
An interview with Said https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVC8EYd_Z_g (3:34 to 10:34)
framing story The Fisherman and the Jinni • The Fisherman and the Jinni • Tale of the King Yunan and the Sage (/doctor)Duban • Tale of the Husband and the Parrot (/the King Sinbad and the Falcon) – told by the King to the Vizier • Tale of the King’s Son and the She-Ghoul – told by the Vizier to the King • Tale of the Enchanted King Tale-within-a-tale techniquein extremis: mise en abyme(or ‘nesting tales’) ‘Ransomthroughstorytelling’ (M. Warner). Wereaders–butalsothecharacters in thestory – are likeShariyar…
Framestories in film and TV • Titanic (1997) • CitizenKane (1941) • The Usual Suspects (1995) • Edward Scissordhands (1990) • ForrestGump (1994) • TheSimpson’sTreehouse of Horror (Halloween specials, 1990-2014)
Sinbad the Porter • First Voyage of Sinbad: whale; sea horses. • Second Voyage of Sinbad: rocs; giant snakes; diamond valley. • Third Voyage of Sinbad: giant; giant serpent. • Fourth Voyage of Sinbad: herb; saddle for the king; cannibals; cave of the dead. • Fifth Voyage of Sinbad: roc’s egg; Sinbad enslaved; island of the Apes; trade. • Sixth Voyage of Sinbad: shipwreck; starvation; Sinbad on the raft; Serendib; gifts for the caliph. • Seventh Voyage of Sinbad: Province of the Kings; shipwreck; market and marriage; bird-men; appraisal to God, Sinbad on mountain top; golden staff; return to the island and then to Baghdad. Promise never to travel again. framing story Sinbad the Sailor
Sinbad and Odysseus • In pairs, discusstheparallelismsbetweenthe tale of Sinbad and therelevantepisodes of theOdyssey.
J. L. Borges and thetranslatorsof theNights • Anotherfamousarticleontranslation: ‘TheHomericVersions’ (1932). Disputable superiority of the original overthetranslations. • authorship • literature and itsproducers / consumers • patrimony of theworld: cosmopolitanism v. nationalisms • Whatis a goodtranslation? Faithful? Fluent? Readable? Exotic? Adapted?