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The Arabian Nights (1704) translated by Sir Richard Burton & the Non-Humans of Old

“So they went thither, Prince Ahmad following her footsteps; and on reaching it he was filled with wonder to see its vaulted roof of exquisite workmanship and adorned with gold and lapis lazuli and paintings and ornaments, whose like was nowhere to be found in the world.”

cg fewstonThe Arabian Nights by Richard Francis Burton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Arabian Nights (1704) is a collection of Indian, Middle Eastern, and South Asian stories and folk tales with roots to ancient and medieval Arabic, Greek, Indian, Jewish, Persian, and Turkish folklore, literature, and mythology. “Drawing on sources older than written history” (p x) “with their origins in the mists of prehistory” (p xvii), the Arabian Nights was finally compiled and “translated into Arabic by about 850 [AD]” (p ix) during the Islamic Golden Age.

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The collection may sometimes be referred to as One Thousand and One Nights (Arabic: أَلْفُ لَيْلَةٍ وَلَيْلَةٌ‎ , the Kitàbalf laylah walaylah”), A Thousand Tales (Persian: هزار افسان‎), The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, The Thousand and One Nights, the Thousand Nights and a Night, the Arabian Nights, or more simply as the Nights.  

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Originally, the title of the collection was once known as Hezār Afsān, the name of a Persian book which means The Thousand Stories or A Thousand Wonderful Stories, or an Arabic book known as Alf Layla, meaning A Thousand Nights. One of the earliest versions of the title was an Arabic title: A Book of Narratives of a Thousand Nights.

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Later, the collection’s title evolved from a “thousand stories” to a “thousand stories and one.”

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In “Sex, crime, magic, and mystery in the Thousand and One Nights” (Chapter 10 in The Cambridge Companion to Fairy Tales, edited by Maria Tatar, 2014), Ulrich Marzolph explains:

“Around the year 1150, a Jewish bookseller in Cairo lent a book titled Alf layla walayla (A Thousand Nights and a Night) to one of his customers….

“We do not know when or for what reason the thousand-and-first night was added to the thousand nights of storytelling…. As an ingenious move, the new title extends the previous notion of unfathomable multitudes (a thousand) into a notion of sheer infinity (a thousand and one) that promises endless variety — just like the English ‘forever and a day’” (p 194).

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Ulrich Marzolph also explains the origins of one of the first English translations and editions of the Arabian Nights by Antoine Galland: “Galland’s version of the Nights was published in twelve volumes between 1704 and 1717” (p 196).

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Sir Richard Francis Burton was a British explorer, geographer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, cartographer, ethnologist, spy, linguist, poet, fencer, and diplomat (1821-1890)

The British explorer and Arabist Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890) translated and published his version of the collection as The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night in 1885.

This particular leather-bound version of the Arabian Nights is an immaculate English translation (circa 1885) by Sir Richard Burton, who was a “linguist, explorer, swordsman, soldier, spy, adventurer, and word-class self-publicist” (p vii). This particular book is “an adaptation of the Burton Nights for modern audiences” (Arabian Nights, p xvii).

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In this Canterbury Classics edition of Burton’s Arabian Nights (2011), there are twenty-one chapters which include nineteen individual stories (with twenty-six smaller stories embedded within, which includes the seven voyages of Sinbad in “Sinbad the Sailor,” pgs 120-177) and the one “frame story” with its framing device which depicts Scheherazade telling her nightly tales to her husband King Shahryar, the ruler of the “Banu Sasan in the Islands of India and China” (p 1), and “who is not Arab or even Muslim, but a pagan Persian from before the Muslim conquests” (Arabian Nights, p x).  

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King Shahryar tells his brother, King Shah Zaman, that Scheherazade has spent the last three years telling him “proverbs and parables, chronicles and pleasantries, quips and jests, stories and anecdotes, dialogues and histories and elegies and other verses” (Arabian Nights, p 650). King Shah Zaman eventually marries Scheherazade’s sister, Dunyazad.

Scheherazade’s frame story (also known as a “frame narrative” or a “frame tale”) is one that introduces and relates all the other stories within the Arabian Nights. The frame story (p viii) is a literary technique where the main narrative creates, sets, and develops the stage for secondary and smaller narratives, leading the reader from a primary narrative into other stories embedded neatly within.

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This particular framing device can also be found throughout the Bible’s “New Testament,” or even in a more recent novel Little Hometown, America (2020).

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This specific anthology of Arabian Nights does not include all 1,001 nights and tales. Ken Mondschein, PhD explains why in the “Introduction”:

“Since a book of 1,001 tales would be far too large to carry comfortably, we have chosen to include here the tales common to all recensions” (Arabian Nights, p ix). 

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The twenty-one chapters in this edition of the Arabian Nights cover exactly sixteen nights and include dozens and dozens of stories within that cover journeys from Cairo to Morocco to Baghdad to Aleppo to China:

Night # 1 = pgs 1-94

Night # 2 = pgs 95-177

Night # 3 = pgs 178-229

Night # 4 = pgs 230-244

Night # 5 = pgs 245-264

Night # 6 = pgs 265-288

Night # 7 = pgs 289-370

Night # 8 = pgs 371-407

Night # 9 = pgs 408-431

Night # 10 = pgs 432-440

Night # 11 = pgs 441-487

“I pray thee do thou tell us another tale till such time as the last hours of this our night be passed” (p 487, end of section); “The following evening” (p 488, beginning of next section).

Night # 12 = pgs 488-528

Night # 13 = pgs 529-554

“Prithee tell me now another story to while away what yet remaineth of the waking hours of this our night” (p 554, end of section); “continued Scheherazade the next evening” (p 555, beginning of next section).

Night # 14 = pgs 555-591

Night # 15 = pgs 592-615

Night # 16 = pgs 616-647

Ending = pgs 648-655

“Now during this time Scheherazade had borne the King three boy children, so when she had made an end of the story, she rose to her feet and kissing ground before him, said, ‘O king of the Time and unique one of the Age and the Tide, I am thine handmaid, and these thousand nights and a night have I entertained thee with stories of folk gone before and admonitory instances of the men of yore’.… “they were three boy children, one walking, one crawling, and one suckling” (p 648, beginning of section).

“Then the King shut himself up with his brother and related to him that which had betided him with the Wazir’s daughter, Scheherazade, during the past three years” (p 650).

Time Reference: 1,001 nights = 2.74 years

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Tales of the Jinn

Throughout the tales of the Arabian Nights, the Jinn often appear as magical, fantastical, and other-worldly creatures. The Jinn are considered to be above human beings and below the level of angels and devils.

The Jinn (singular: Jinni; sometimes, plural: Jann or Jinns), also known as “djinn” or “genies”, are supernatural beings and spirits (often with superior powers and technologies) that reappear throughout Arabian and Islamic mythology and theology.

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In the Arabian Nights, there are even Kings of the Jinn who wield immense power and authority over the other Jinn: The Blue King (p 204) & the Red King (p 562).

One might study the Jinn in the story in the Arabian Nights, “The Tale of Zayn al-Asnam and the Sultan of the Jinni”:

“Mubarak fell to lessoning Zayn al-Asnam how he should salute the King of the Jinns…. Then he began his conjurations and fumigations and adjurations and recitations of words not understanded of any and but little time elapsed before cold rain down railed and lightning flashed and thunder roared and thick darkness veiled earth’s face.… After this the skies waxed clear and serene exceedingly while perfumed winds and the purest scents breathed upon them; nor did a long time elapse ere the King of the Jann presented himself under the semblance of a beautiful man who had no peer in comeliness save and excepting Him who lacketh likeness and to Whom be honour and glory” (Arabian Nights, p 255).

Other prominent stories that have a Jinni as a primary antagonist are “The Tale of the Trader with the Jinni” (pgs 21-31) and “The Tale of the Fisherman and the Jinni” (pgs 32-67).

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One prominent Jinni in the Arabian Nights is Jinni Al-Ra’ad al-Kasif in the story “Judar and His Brethren”:

“Now this eunuch was none other than Al-Ra’ad al Kasif, the servant of the ring, whom Judar had commanded to put on the guise of an eunuch and sit at the palace gate….

“Hardly had Othman heard this, when he was filled with rage and drawing his mace would have smitten the eunuch, know not that he was a devil; but Al-Ra’ad leapt upon him and taking the mace from him, dealt him four blows with it” (p 585).

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A few kinds (or classes) of Jinn found in Arabian and Islamic folklore and mythology:

(1) Ghūl (or “Ghoul”): a demon-like being that consumes human flesh and is able to change its shape

            “So I watched them narrowly, and it was not long before I discovered them to be a tribe of Magian cannibals whose King was a Ghul” (Arabian Nights, p 145).

            “When I beheld Aminah my bride enter the cemetery, I stood without and close to the wall over which I peered so that I could espy her well but she could not discover me. Then what did I behold but Aminah sitting with a Ghul! Thy Highness wotteth well that Ghuls be of the race of devils; to wit, they are unclean spirits which inhabit ruins and which terrify solitary wayfarers and at times seizing them feed upon their flesh; and if by day they find not any traveller to eat they go by night to the graveyards and dig out and devour dead bodies. So I was sore amazed and terrified to see my wife thus seated with a Ghul” (Arabian Nights, p 383).

(2) Mārid (or “Marid”): a type of rebellious Shaitan (or Satan) that’s a devil or demon that tempt humans to sin

            “So I mounted on his back, and he flew up with me into the firmament, till I lost sight of the earth and saw the stars as they were the mountains of earth fixed and firm and heard the angels crying, ‘Praise be to Allah,’ in heaven while the Marid held me in converse, diverting me and hindering me from pronouncing the name of Almighty Allah.… Whereupon the shining One smote the Marid with his javelin and he melted away and became ashes; whilst I was thrown from his back and fell headlong towards the earth” (Arabian Nights, p 241).

            “For the ring hath a Marid that serveth it called Al-Ra’ad al-Kisif; and whoso hath possession thereof, neither King nor Sultan may prevail against him; and if he will, he may therewith make himself master of the earth, in all the length and breadth thereof” (Arabian Nights, p 562)

(3) Ifrīt (or “Ifrit”): a diabolic and powerful demon associated with the spirits of the dead

            “Thereupon Al-Ra’ad brought him two hundred Ifrits of great stature and strength, in the guise of guards, magnificently armed and equipped, and when the King came and saw these tall burly fellows his heart feared them” (Arabian Nights, p 587).

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For most Jinn, however, they are much like humans and can either be good or evil. The Jinn, like humans, can also live in societies, have emotions, eat, drink, procreate and raise families; “additionally, they fear iron, generally appear in desolate or abandoned places, and are stronger and faster than humans.” 

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Jinn as Alien Beings with Superior Technology

Throughout the Arabian Nights it is clear that the Jinn are not mortal humans, but special beings far more developed and far more powerful and mysterious. 

In the story “Prince Ahmad and the Fairy Peri-Banu” (Arabian Nights, pgs 441-487), after a long journey where “three princely brothers” (p 442) sought to obtain a Flying Carpet (p 444), a Spying Tube (p 449), and a Magical Apple (p 450), the youngest of the three princely brothers, Prince Ahmad, meets a beautiful maiden who happens to be far different than he.

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Prince Ahmad says to Peri-Banu: “I am of human and thou of non-human birth. Thy friends and family, kith and kin, will haply be displeased with thee” (p 458).

It is clear that Fairy Peri-Banu is not another human being from another worldly culture. She is of “non-human birth”. Peri-Banu explains her origins:

“Albeit thou know me not, I know thee well, as thou shalt see with surprise when I shall tell thee all my tale. But first it behoveth me disclose to thee who I am. In Holy Writ belike thou hast read that this world is the dwelling-place not only for men, but also of a race hight the Jann in form likest to mortals. I am the only daughter of a Jinn chief of noblest strain and my name is Peri-Banu” (p 457).

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Studying the history of creation and one “Holy Writ” that Peri-Banu refers to, we find that long, long ago in times beyond recorded history there were superior beings living among humans on Earth. Eventually history of these “non-human” beings find their way into written records describing how the two races co-existed by marrying and breeding with oner another.  

The Holy Bible (partly a Jewish historical text) records Celestial Beings (Angels, or Sons of God, or Fallen Angels) marrying earthly Women in its “Old Testament”:

Genesis 6: 1-5 (KJV):

1 Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, 

2 that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. 

3 And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” 

4 There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

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Likewise, in ancient Sumerian culture, there is recorded evidence of a race of beings known as the Anunnaki who are superior to the human race.

Much like the Jinn, the “Anunnaku are sometimes invoked in curse formulas and also appear in incantations, but are overwhelmingly attested in literary and mythological texts” (see Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses). We find the exact same thing in “The Tale of Zayn al-Asnam and the Sultan of the Jinni”: “Mubarak fell to lessoning Zayn al-Asnam how he should salute the King of the Jinns.… Then he began his conjurations and fumigations and adjurations and recitations of words not understanded of any” (Arabian Nights, p 255).

The Anunnaki, who frequently appear in the mythological traditions and texts of the ancient Akkadians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Sumerians, are usually mentioned in literary texts as a cohesive group (like the Jann in the Arabian Nights). The actual name “Anunnaki” derives from the Sumerian sky-god “An”, meaning “princely offspring.” Sumerian texts describe the Anunnaki as being heavenly deities with immense powers who rule humankind.

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In Enki and the World Order (a poem), the Anunnaki are worshipped and live among the human race, specifically the Sumer people, and the poem repeats that the Anunnaki (in this case King Enki) decree certain fates upon humanity:

“Who well understand the decreeing of fates: you close up the days…. and make the months enter their houses.… You make the people dwell in their dwelling places.… you make them follow their herdsman” (lines 38-47); and, “I oversee justice.… I decree good destinies” (lines 61-80); and, “In my Abzu, sacred songs and incantations resound for me.… I, the lord who determines the fates” (lines 100-122); and, “City whose fate Enki has decreed” (lines 212-218).

 You can read more about this poem and the Anunnaki in Sumerian literature and mythology in “Myth, Ritual, and Order in ‘Enki and the World Order’” by Richard E. Averbeck.

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In another “Holy Writ” we find angels as “celestial beings” in the Qur’an (the Koran, a Muslim text). Much like the Anunnaki, angels in the Qur’an have complete command over human beings:

[Qur’an 2:30] Recall that your Lord said to the angels, “I am placing a representative (a temporary god) on Earth.”

[Qur’an 16:2] He sends down the angels with the revelations, carrying His commands….

[Qur’an 16:49] To God prostrates everything in the heavens and everything on earth — every creature — and so do the angels; without the least arrogance.

[Qur’an 22:75] God chooses from among the angels messengers, as well as from among the people. God is Hearer, Seer.

[Qur’an 97:4] The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by their Lord’s leave, to carry out every command….

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In the story “Prince Ahmad and the Fairy Peri-Banu” (Arabian Nights, pgs 441-487), even Peri-Banu’s underground kingdom is a realm secluded from humanity living above ground, another example how the two races live amongst one another but ever apart.

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Peri-Banu’s kingdom within hidden caves is spectacular in scale and superior beauty, and harken quick reminders to the once established ancient cities among the caves in Turkey.

In Turkey’s Nevşehir Province, the Derinkuyu could house up to 20,000 people in its underground chambers, along with stores of food supplies and livestock, and was used in the Byzantine era for protection against Muslim Arabs. In Cappadocia, Turkey, Göreme can be found in the “fairy chimney” rock formations. Regarding etymology, “Jinn” is an Arabic collective noun primarily meaning “to hide” or “to adapt.”

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Here is a description of Peri-Banu’s subterranean realm known as “Fairy-land” (p 460) as Prince Ahmad discovers the entrance:

“Then, threading his way amongst the pointed crags and huge boulders, he presently came to a hollow in the ground which ended in a subterraneous passage, and after pacing a few paces he espied an iron door” (p 456).

It’s important to insert here the mention in the text of the minor detail of the “iron door” which acts as an entrance to Fairy-land, because “iron” is feared by the Jinn. The iron door likely acts to defend Peri-Banu’s kingdom from other Jinn who are evil in nature, like Ghūls, Mārids, and Ifrīts.

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Prince Ahmad continues his journey down into the depths of Fairy-land:

“He pushed this open with all ease, for that it had no bolt, and entering, arrow in hand, he came upon an easy slope by which he descended. But whereas he feared to find all pitch-dark, he discovered at some distance a spacious square, a widening of the cave, which was lighted on every side with lamps and candelabra. Then advancing some fifty cubits or more his glance fell upon a vast and handsome palace, and presently there issued from within to the portico a lovely maiden lovesome and lovable, a fairy-form robed in princely robes and adorned from front to foot with the costliest of jewels. She walked with slow and stately gait, withal graceful and blandishing, whilst around her ranged her attendants like the stars and moon of the fourteenth night….

“So they went thither, Prince Ahmad following her footsteps; and on reaching it he was filled with wonder to see its vaulted roof of exquisite workmanship and adorned with gold and lapis lazuli and paintings and ornaments, whose like was nowhere to be found in the world” (pgs 456-457).

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After revealing herself to be a daughter and princess of the Jann race, Peri-Banu (a non-human) further explains to Prince Ahmad (a human) about her race’s social customs (far more advanced to the human customs in the historical age she’s currently living in) and the issues concerning the mixing of her race and marriage with that of mortal humans:

“I have full sanction of my parents to marry as I list and whomsoever I may prefer. Thou sayest that thou wilt be my servant, nay, rather be thou my lord and master; for I myself and my life and all my good are very thine, and I shall ever be thy bondswoman. Consent now, I beseech thee, to accept my for thy wife” (p 458).

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Ken Mondschein, PhD extrapolates on what is sometimes called “Mediterranean honor culture”: “the social code of the Middle East and Mediterranean basin place a family’s honor in the chastity of its women. A woman or girl who was dishonored her family by premarital sex, adultery, being raped, or — as in several recent high-profile cases among immigrants to western Europe countries — dating a boy her father does not approve of, must be killed to restore the family’s honor. For those who adhere to this mentality, women must be tightly controlled, and every appearance of unchastity is zealously guarded against. Such an honor code, obviously, works against women’s education and economic and personal freedom” (p xi).

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Fairy Peri-Banu, therefore, stands in complete contrast to the “Mediterranean honor code.” She is her own individual and makes her own choices, especially regarding her marriage partner.

In stark contrast to local and traditional human customs, Peri-Banu continues to explain to Prince Ahmad about her race’s social customs:

“I have told thee already that in this matter I act with fullest authority. Besides all this there is a custom and immemorial usage with us fairy-folk that, when we maidens come to marriageable age and years of understanding, each one may wed, according to the dictates of her heart.… Nor are we bound by another law which bindeth modest virgins of the race of Adam; for we freely announce our preference to those we love, nor must we wait and pine to be wooed and won” (p 458).

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In “Sex, crime, magic, and mystery in the Thousand and One Nights” (Chapter 10 in The Cambridge Companion to Fairy Tales, edited by Maria Tatar, 2014), Ulrich Marzolph states:

“If we speak of fairy tales in the Nights, the term rather donates a tale in which the supernatural, often a human being endowed with supernatural powers or a supernatural creature, intervenes in human matters. This intervention can work to a character’s advantage.… but often it leads to damaging consequences” (p 192).

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In “The Tale of Prince Sayf al-Muluk” (Arabian Nights, pgs 178-229) the reader discovers more about the Jinn and how this race of hon-humans possess such technology to be able to fly across vast distances of land and sea as quickly as we are able to do today.

On a sea journey from “China-land” to the “land of Hind”, Sayf al-Muluk becomes shipwrecked and washes ashore upon a strange land where he encounters intelligent and well-mannered “apes” (p 202).

After a month, Sayf sets out across the land “escorted by a party of nigh a hundred apes…. till they came to the limits of their islands, when they took leave of him and returned to their places, while Sayf al-Muluk fared on alone over mount and hill, desert and plain, four months’ journey.… when he saw something black afar off.… so he made towards it and when he drew near, he saw that it was a palace of base. Now he who built it was Japhet son of Noah” (p 203).

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Stranded and lost, Sayf asks himself, “Would I knew what is within yonder palace and what King dwelleth there and who shall acquaint me whether its folk are men or Jinn? Who will tell me the truth of the case” (p 203)?

He enters the palace and finds a beautiful young woman. When Sayf approaches her, she says to him, “Art thou of mankind or of the Jinn”; Sayf replies, “I am a man of the best of mankind; for I am a King, son of a King” (p 204).

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Then the young woman tells her story of how she came to the palace. While bathing nude in her palace pool, Daulat Khatun was kidnapped by a Jinn who used an unidentified flying object:

“I am the daughter of the King of Hind.… One day, I went out into the garden with my slave-women and I stripped me naked and they likewise and, entering the tank, fell to sporting and solacing ourselves therein. Presently, before I could be ware, a something as it were a cloud swooped down on me and snatching me up from amongst my handmaids, soared aloft with me betwixt heaven and earth.… Then he flew on with me a little while, after which he set me down in this palace straightway without stay or delay became a handsome young man daintily apparelled.… and he said, ‘I am the Blue King, Sovran of the Jann; my father dwelleth in the Castle Al-Kulzum hight, and hath under his hand six hundred thousand Jinn, flyers and divers…. None may fare hither be he man or be he Jinni, and from Hind hither is a journey of an hundred and twenty years” (pgs 204-205).

While Prince Sayf tells his story of how he came to that place, he calls the Blue King an “Ifrit”: “My story is a long and I fear lest while I am telling it to thee the Ifrit come” (p 205).

Sayf pleads to Daulat to run away with him and to leave the Blue King’s palace. She replies, “We cannot do that: for, by Allah, though we fled hence a year’s journey that accursed would overtake us in an hour and slaughter us” (p 206).

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Much like “Sinbad the Sailor” (pgs 120-177) and “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” (pgs 408-431), “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” (pgs 289-370) was never in the original collections prior to Antoine Galland’s 1704 edition. According to Britannica, these stories were “added to the collection only in the 18th century in European adaptations.”

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In “Sex, crime, magic, and mystery in the Thousand and One Nights” (Chapter 10 in The Cambridge Companion to Fairy Tales, edited by Maria Tatar, 2014), Ulrich Marzolph explains:

“When Galland’s manuscript material was exhausted, his audience asked for more of the tales they had come to love. Galland responded to this request by continuing his Nights with tales from a source that was altogether unconnected to the Arabic manuscript tradition of the Nights. Chance brought him into contact with the Syrian Maronite Christian Hanna Diyāb, who narrated to him a total of sixteen stories, ten of which he published….

“Even though Galland presented Hanna’s tales as an integral part of an ‘authentic’ Arabic collection, Hanna’s tales did not belong to the repertoire of the Nights before Galland included them in his version. It was Galland who transformed those tales from the oral performance of a gifted Syrian storyteller into the acme of the Nights, while never disclosing the tales’ actual provenance to his audience” (p 196).

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Even so, in its original form, “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” is far different than what currently inhabits the modern mind through contemporary storytelling, like those found in the Disney and Hollywood versions of the twentieth century. 

In Arabian Nights, “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” (pgs 289-370) has significant differences from its more modern counterparts, especially the Disney film versions succinctly called Aladdin (1992 & 2019).

# 1

In the Disney versions, the story takes place in the fictional city of Agrabah, which appears to be somewhere near the Jordan River that runs through the Middle Eastern countries of Jordan, Israel, Syria, and Palestine.

In the Arabian Nights version, the bulk of the story takes place “in a city of the cities of China” (pgs 289, 302).

# 2

In the Disney versions, Aladdin is an orphan living on the streets with his pet monkey named Abu.

In the Arabian Nights version, Aladdin has no pet monkey named Abu and is not an orphan, because he lives with his mother. Although the evil antagonist calls Aladdin “the tailor’s orphan,” Aladdin lives with his widowed mother: “After running in his joy at fullest speed to his mother’s dwelling” (pgs 290-291). Aladdin’s mother plays a major role in “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” (pgs 289-370).

# 3

In the Disney versions, the evil antagonist is a Wazir, the King’s advisor, named Jafar with a talking male parrot named Iago.

In the Arabian Nights version, the evil antagonist does not have a talking parrot and is not the King’s Wazir but “a Darwaysh from the Maghrib.” The nameless villain is often called “the Maghrabi” or “the Magician,” who is a “Moorman from Inner Marocco” who travels from his native land to China. The name and character of the “Wazir Jafar” comes from the story “The Adventures of Harun Al-Rashid” (pgs 371-407): “Presently the Commander of the Faithful sent for Masrur the Eunuch, and when he came to him cried, ‘Fetch me my Wazir, Ja’afar the Barmaki, without stay or delay’” (p 371). In the embedded story “The Tale of the Husband and the Parrot” (pgs 43-45), there is a talking “she parrot” (found in the main story “The Tale of the Fisherman and the Jinni,” pgs 32-67).

# 4

In the Disney versions, Aladdin’s love interest is Princess Jasmine, who seeks love and marriage but finds only Aladdin acceptable.  

In the Arabian Nights version, Aladdin’s love interest is “Lady Badr al-Budur, the daughter of the Sultan” (p 313). The Princess Badr al-Budur marries the son of the Grand Wazir. On their wedding night, Aladdin uses the magical Jinni, one slave of “all the slaves of the Magic Lamp (p 323) to kidnap the Princess and her newly wedded husband to prevent them from completing the sexual union: “When thou shalt see bride and bridegroom bedded together this night, at once take them up and bear them hither abed” (p 324). After only two nights, the Magical Marid kidnaps the wedded pair and returns them in the morning. Each night the Jinni tortures the husband until the husband leaves the Princess and the marriage is “broken off” and later “dissolved” (pgs 329-330). After three months go by, Aladdin begins the process to marry the Princess, because “the Sultan had pledged” the Princess to Aladdin all along (pgs 321, 330).

# 5

In the Disney versions, Aladdin obtains a Magic Carpet that can fly and a Magic Lamp in the Cave of Wonders. To escape the underground chambers, Aladdin orders the magical Genie from the Magic Lamp to help him escape

In the Arabian Nights version, Aladdin has no Magic Carpet, but instead a Magic Lamp and a Magic Seal-Ring. The “African Magician” conjures out of the ground a “marble slab wherein was fixed a copper ring” which only Aladdin can open and is “the entrance to the Hoard” (pgs 298-300). Before Aladdin enters, the African Magician “drew off a seal-ring and put it upon the lad’s forefinger” (p 300); later, Aladdin is able to escape the underground vault by using the Jinni of the Ring, who is a “Marid like unto an Ifrit of our lord Solomon’s Jinns” (p 304). Later, back at home, Aladdin’s mother rubs the Magic Lamp with sand and discovers the Jinni of the Lamp (p 308). In the Arabian Nights version, the Magic Carpet is in the story “Prince Ahmad and the Fairy Peri-Banu” (pgs 441-487) and is so named as the “Flying Carpet” (p 444), along with a “Spying Tube” (p 449) and a “Magical Apple” (p 450).

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Meccan merchant (right) and his Circassian slave. Entitled, ‘Vornehmer Kaufmann mit seinem cirkassischen Sklaven’ [Distinguished merchant and his circassian slave] by Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje, ca. 1888

White Slaves

The Arabian Nights makes it abundantly clear that there was — once upon a time in true human history — the existence of white slaves, that is Caucasian humans (i.e., “white-skinned; of European origin”) subjugated as slaves to non-Caucasian humans.

Examples in the text:

“and gave him two white slaves to serve him” (p 536)

“attended by the four blackamoor slaves and four white mamelukes” (p 539)

A “blackamoor” is defined as being “a black African or a very dark-skinned person.”

A “mameluke” is defined as being “a slave (especially European and white) in a Middle Eastern Muslim country.”

“Moreover the King gave him ten thousand dinars, besides ten white slaves and ten hand-maidens and a like number of blackamoors” (p 543).

“So he donned his richest dress and mounting a she-mule and bidding the attendance of four white slaves and four black slaves, walking before him and behind him, he rode to the Hammam” (p 544).

“Then he rubbed the ring and bade the Jinni fetch him forty handsome white handmaids and forty black damsels and as many mamelukes and negro slaves” (p 582).

“Each of these white slaves is worth more than a thousand dinars” (p 607).

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Abraham Duquesne delivering Christian captives in Algiers after the Bombardment of Algiers (1683)

All of this took place during the “Golden Age of Islam,” where white slaves existed among black slaves, both male and female. The world could have easily turned left instead of right and humanity could have ended up today speaking primarily Arabic and not English.

In the “Introduction” Ken Mondschein, PhD describes what the world once was: “Arabic, the language of the Koran, became the language of civilized culture. As a common language, it unified the world to such a degree that the traveler Ibn Battuta could journey from Morocco to China, the Maldives, and sub-Saharan Africa and be understood wherever he went. Likewise, it was through Arabic translations that knowledge of ancient Greek science was first reintroduced to medieval Europe” (p viii).

Connections Between the Arabian Nights (1704) & the Brothers Grimm (1812)

The Complete Illustrated Works of the Brothers Grimm (1812) reflect Occidental culture while the Arabian Nights (1704) reflect Arabian and Oriental cultures (e.g., Egypt, India, Iran, China).

The Occident implies countries situated in the West, such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, European nations, Australia, and New Zealand. The Arabsphere (hence Arabian) implies countries situated in the Middle East and northern Africa, such as Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. The Orient implies countries situated in East Asia and Southeast Asia (hence the Asiatic) such as China, India, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. 

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Stories which have similarities and connections between the texts are as follows:

(a) Arabian Nights: “The Tale of the Trader with the Jinni” (pgs 21-31) & Brothers Grimm: “The Fisherman and his Wife” (pgs 88-93) & Brothers Grimm: “The Spirit in the Bottle” (pgs 482-486)

(b) Arabian Nights: “The Two Sisters Who Were Jealous of Their Younger Sister” (pgs 488-528) & Brothers Grimm: “The Three Birds” (pgs 450-453) & Brothers Grimm: “The Water of Life” (pgs 454-461)

(c) Arabian Nights: “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” (pgs 408-431) & Brothers Grimm: “Simeli-Mountain” (pgs 653-655)

(d) Arabian Nights: “Judar and His Brethren” (pgs 555-591) & Brothers Grimm: “The Drummer” (pgs 808-817)

The Arabian Nights is surprisingly, to some degree, ben trovato, a history that once might have been long ago far beyond recorded and written history, when the oral tradition of recitations and vocal storytelling reigned supreme.

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And how might have these wondrous tales lasted so long? The answer lies within as well:

“Then there reigned after them a wise ruler, who was just, keen-witted, and accomplished, and loved tales and legends, especially those which chronicle the doings of Sovrans and Sultans, and he found in the treasury these marvelous stories and wondrous histories, contained in the thirty volumes aforesaid. So he read in them a first book and a second and a third and so on to the last of them, and each book astounded and delighted him more than that which preceded it, till he came to the end of them. Then he admired whatso he had read therein of description and discourse and rare traits and anecdotes and moral instances and reminiscences, and bade the folk copy them and dispread them over all lands and climes, wherefore their report was bruited abroad and the people named them The Marvels and Wonders of the Arabian Nights” (p 655).

Se non è vero, è molto ben trovato. “If it isn’t true, it is very well found, happily invented.”

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cg fewston


cg fewston

The American novelist CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, & he’s a been member of the Hemingway Society, Americans for the Arts, PEN America, Club Med, & the Royal Society of Literature. He’s also a been Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) based in London. He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Fathers Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), The Mystics Smile ~ A Play in 3 Acts (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), Little Hometown, America (2020); A Time to Forget in East Berlin (2022), and Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being (2023).

cg fewston

He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979.

cg fewston
cg fewston

Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being is a captivating new dystopian science fiction novel by CG Fewston, an author already making a name for himself with his thought-provoking work. Set in the year 2183, Conquergood is set in a world where one company, Korporation, reigns supreme and has obtained world peace, through oppression... The world-building in the novel is remarkable. Fewston has created a believable and authentic post-apocalyptic society with technological wonders and thought-provoking societal issues. The relevance of the themes to the state of the world today adds an extra wrinkle and makes the story even more compelling.”

cg fewston
cg fewston

“A spellbinding tale of love and espionage set under the looming shadow of the Berlin Wall in 1975… A mesmerising read full of charged eroticism.”

Ian Skewis, Associate Editor for Bloodhound Books, & author of best-selling novel A Murder of Crows (2017)  

“An engrossing story of clandestine espionage… a testament to the lifestyle encountered in East Berlin at the height of the Cold War.”

“There is no better way for readers interested in Germany’s history and the dilemma and cultures of the two Berlins to absorb this information than in a novel such as this, which captures the microcosm of two individuals’ love, relationship, and options and expands them against the blossoming dilemmas of a nation divided.”

~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

A Time to Forget in East Berlin is a dream-like interlude of love and passion in the paranoid and violent life of a Cold War spy. The meticulous research is evident on every page, and Fewston’s elegant prose, reminiscent of novels from a bygone era, enhances the sensation that this is a book firmly rooted in another time.”

~ Matthew Harffy, prolific writer & best-selling historical fiction author of the “Bernicia Chronicles” series

“Vivid, nuanced, and poetic…” “Fewston avoids familiar plot elements of espionage fiction, and he is excellent when it comes to emotional precision and form while crafting his varied cast of characters.” “There’s a lot to absorb in this book of hefty psychological and philosophical observations and insights, but the reader who stays committed will be greatly rewarded.”

cg fewston

GOLD Winner in the 2020 Human Relations Indie Book Awards for Contemporary Realistic Fiction

FINALIST in the SOUTHWEST REGIONAL FICTION category of the 14th Annual National Indie Excellence 2020 Awards (NIEA)

“Readers of The Catcher in the Rye and similar stories will relish the astute, critical inspection of life that makes Little Hometown, America a compelling snapshot of contemporary American life and culture.”

“Fewston employs a literary device called a ‘frame narrative’ which may be less familiar to some, but allows for a picture-in-picture result (to use a photographic term). Snapshots of stories appear as parts of other stories, with the introductory story serving as a backdrop for a series of shorter stories that lead readers into each, dovetailing and connecting in intricate ways.”

~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“The American novelist CG FEWSTON tells a satisfying tale, bolstered by psychology and far-ranging philosophy, calling upon Joseph Campbell, J. D. Salinger, the King James Bible, and Othello.”

“In this way, the author lends intellectual heft to a family story, exploring the ‘purity’ of art, the ‘corrupting’ influences of publishing, the solitary artist, and the messy interconnectedness of human relationships.”

“Fewston’s lyrical, nostalgia-steeped story is told from the perspective of a 40-year-old man gazing back on events from his 1980s Texas childhood…. the narrator movingly conveys and interprets the greater meanings behind childhood memories.”

“The novel’s focus on formative childhood moments is familiar… the narrator’s lived experiences come across as wholly personal, deeply felt, and visceral.”

cg fewston
cg fewston

American Novelist CG FEWSTON


cg fewston

This is my good friend, Nicolasa (Nico) Murillo, CRC, who is a professional chef & a wellness mentor. I’ve known her since childhood & I’m honored to share her story with you. In life, we all have ups & downs, some far more extreme than others. Much like in Canada, in America, the legalization of marijuana has become a national movement, which includes safe & legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use & research for all.

“This is a wellness movement,” Nico explains. The wellness movement is focused on three specific areas: information, encouragement, & accountability.

In these stressful & unprecedented times, it makes good sense to promote & encourage the state or condition of being in good physical & mental health.

To learn more you can visit: Americans For Safe Access & Texans for Safe Access, ASA (if you are in Texas).

The mission of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research.


TEXANS FOR SAFE ACCESS ~ share the mission of their national organization, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research, for all Texans.


Stay safe & stay happy. God bless.


Nico Murillo Bio ~ Americans & Texans for Safe Access ~ Medical Cannabis



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