Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Book: Scheherazade's Children: Global Encounters with the Arabian Nights

Scheherazade's Children: Global Encounters with the Arabian Nights by Philip F. Kennedy (Editor) , Marina Warner (Editor) was released last month and is a great new addition to any Arabian Nights library. I am far from being a scholar of Arabian Nights but I dabble in the tales like almost anyone who delves into folklore regularly.

The Arabian Nights is so very fascinating from its history, cultural influence, and questionable sources. For example--and this I learned when working on Bluebeard Tales From Around the World (Surlalune Fairy Tale Series)--Bluebeard is so often portrayed with a turban and Oriental appearance thanks to the Arabian Nights influence upon theatre as well as the similarities between Bluebeard and the frame story of Scheherazade from Arabian Nights, namely a wife killer. One of the essays in this new book discusses this is greater detail, "Scheherazade, Bluebeard, and Theatrical Curiosity," by Elizabeth Kuti. Essentially, Arabian Nights' popularity helped inspire Orientalism in the theatre and thus a famous play of Blue-beard, or Female Curiosity by George Colman and Michael Kelly in 1798 portrayed the French serial wife killer with an Oriental flare. And the play influenced several plays that followed as well as illustrators although no references in the texts, such as Perrault's, provide that description. I oversimplify but those are the essentials.

That, and so much more, is waiting to be read in this volume. I'm providing the book description and the table of contents below but you can also read part of the introduction through the Look Inside feature on Amazon.

And having a name like Marina Warner attached to it helps to keep the price down, too, making the book much more affordable for personal libraries unlike so many similar scholarly texts on Arabian Nights and folklore in general. It's a wondrous cycle that--the bigger the name on the cover, the more anticipated sales and bigger print run, leading to a lower price which makes the book more readily available to personal and public, not just academic libraries. Which in turn makes the name recognition on the cover even greater. Deservedly so. I'm grateful when that happens. More exposure for a topic I love!

Book description:

Scheherazade’s Children gathers together leading scholars to explore the reverberations of the Arabian Nights tales across a startlingly wide and transnational range of cultural endeavors. The contributors, drawn from a wide array of disciplines, extend their inquiries into the book’s metamorphoses on stage and screen as well as in literature—from India to Japan, from Sanskrit mythology to British pantomime, from Baroque opera to puppet shows. Their highly original research illuminates little-known manifestations of the Nights, and provides unexpected contexts for understanding the book’s complex history. Polemical issues are thereby given unprecedented and enlightening interpretations.

Organized under the rubrics of Translating, Engaging, and Staging, these essays view the Nights corpus as a uniquely accretive cultural bundle that absorbs the works upon which it has exerted influence. In this view, the Arabian Nights is a dynamic, living and breathing cross-cultural phenomenon that has left its mark on fields as disparate as the European novel and early Indian cinema. While scholarly, the writers’ approach is also lively and entertaining, and the book is richly illustrated with unusual materials to deliver a sparkling and highly original exploration of the Arabian Nights’ radiating influence on world literature, performance, and culture.

Philip F. Kennedy is Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and Comparative Literature at New York University, and Vice Provost for Public Programming for the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute.

Marina Warner is Professor of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex and Fellow of the British Academy. Her most recent book, Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights, won the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.

And here is the Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction 1
Philip F. Kennedy and Marina Warner

Part I: Translating

1 The Sea-Born Tale: Eighteenth-Century English
Translations of The Thousand and One Nights and the
Lure of Elemental Difference 27
Ros Ballaster

2 Re-Orienting William Beckford: Transmission, Translation,
and Continuation of The Thousand and One Nights 53
Laurent Ch√Ętel

3 The Collector of Worlds: Richard Burton, Cosmopolitan
Translator of the Nights 70
Paulo Lemos Horta

Part II: Engaging

4 The Porter and Portability: Figure and Narrative in the Nights 89
Elliott Colla

5 The Rings of Budur and Qamar al-Zaman 108
Wendy Doniger

6 White Magic: Voltaire and Galland’s Mille et une nuits 127
Roger Pearson

7 The Arabian Nights and the Origins of the Western Novel 143
Robert Irwin

8 “A Covenant for Reconciliation”: Lane’s Thousand and
One Nights and Eliot’s Daniel Deronda 154
Paulo Lemos Horta

9 Translating Destiny: Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s
“Tale of the 672nd Night” 172
Dominique Jullien

10 Borges and the Missing Pages of the Nights 195
Philip F. Kennedy

11 The Politics of Conversation: Denis Diderot, Elio Vittorini,
Manuel Puig, Masaki Kobayashi, Vasily Grossman 218
Katie Trumpener

12 Sindbad the Sailor: Textual, Visual, and Performative
Interpretations 243
Ferial J. Ghazoul

Part III: Staging

13 The Arabian Nights in British Pantomime 265
Karl Sabbagh

14 The Arabian Nights in Traditional Japanese Performing Arts 274
Yuriko Yamanaka

15 “Nectar If You Taste and Go, Poison If You Stay”:
Struggling with the Orient in Eighteenth-Century
British Musical Theater 282
Berta Joncus

16 Scheherazade, Bluebeard, and Theatrical Curiosity 322
Elizabeth Kuti

17 The Takarazuka Revue and the Fantasy of “Arabia” in Japan 347
Tetsuo Nishio

18 Thieves of the Orient: The Arabian Nights in
Early Indian Cinema 362
Rosie Thomas

Afterword: My Arabian Superheroine 395
Alia Yunis

List of Stories 401

Selected Bibliography 409

About the Contributors 429

Index 435

The illustrations appear in two groups, following pages 176 and 224.
For information about the illustrations, see the list of illustrations on
page ix.

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