Rediscovering Thousand and One Nights

The (Latest) Revival of the Thousand and One Nights

This year, Alf Layla w Layla (One Thousand and One Nights) is being rediscovered. This time, with an eye to freedom.

From time to time, of course, we forget the wealth of Alf Layla w Layla, and remember only the sex and stereotypes. But their power has fed Arabic literature for generations: Taha Hussein and Tawfiq al-Hakim, for instance, chat with Shahrazad in their collaborative “The Castle,”a conversation recently re-mixed by Magdy al-Shafee.

But the Shahrazad figure has generally been spurned by contemporary writers, particularly women. (Poet Joumanah Haddad, for instance, recently killed her.) As Hanan al-Shaykh told the Guardian:

…she used to feel quite dismissive of the tales, and was rankled when book critics began to call her the “new Shahrazad”. She explains: “Shahrazad to me was a cliche! She accepted that she was a prisoner of the king, she was very passive. I thought, ‘I am modern, I am not like her.’”

Read full article @ Arabic literature


~ by eneryvibes on 1,August 25, 2011.

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