Tell Us Another: Variations in the Arabian Nights Frame Story
The tale of Scheherezade and the sultan, the frame story of the Arabian Nights, surrounds the entire group of stories. Though written evidence of Scheherezade’s story dates back to the 9th century, translators in Europe brought the Arabian Nights to Western audiences starting in the 1700s, with a surge of popularity in the late 1800s. These translators and editors made a habit of inserting, removing, and altering the tales, so that there is no true canonical version of the Nights – nor is there only one version of the frame story. This thesis explores a few major instances of variation: the addition of siblings for Scheherezade and/or the sultan, an encounter with a jinni (genie) and his wife, the presence or absence of interruptions between the collected tales, and the conclusion of the frame story. Due to this range of source material, I was able to draw from a number of different translations and scholarly criticism of those translations, as well as general background work on the Nights.