Old Tales that Still Seduce

Wall Street Journal. AUGUST 28, 2009, "Old Tales That Still Seduce Western culture owes a debt to 'The Arabian Nights'" By JAMIE JAMES

It surprises us to learn that Charles Dickens made more allusions to "The Arabian Nights" than any other work of literature—but it shouldn't. Shahrazad, the narrator of "The Arabian Nights' Entertainment," or "Tales of 1001 Nights," has ­inspired great storytellers for centuries. As a treasure-house of characters and stories, the "Nights" is an essential point of reference for popular entertainments ranging from British pantomime to Romantic ballet and opera to Hollywood spectacle.

The key to its lasting popularity and influence is that it's all about the story. The anonymous bards whose tales are collected in the book's thousands of pages espoused no ideology and preached no religious message. Princes play the villain as often as they are praised. The book's pedigree is cosmopolitan, with tales drawn from India and Persia as well as Arabic sources; scholars believe the Aladdin story is actually ­European in ­origin.

Read more about it at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204886304574308744212027048.html

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