“Thousand and One Nights” is a collection of fairy tales in Arabic, which became world famous thanks to the French translation of A. Gallan (incomplete, published from 1704 to 1717). The question of the origin and development of the “1001 Nights” has not been fully clarified to this day. Attempts to look for the ancestral home of this collection in India, made by its first researchers, have not yet received sufficient justification. The prototype of “Nights” on Arab soil was probably made in the X century. translation of the Persian collection “Hezar-Efsane” (Thousand tales). This translation, known as the “Thousand Nights” or “One Thousand One Nights,” was, as evidenced by the Arab writers of that time, very popular in the capital of the Eastern Caliphate, in Baghdad.
We can not judge the nature of it, since we have only reached the frame that frames it, coinciding with the framework of “1001 Nights.” In this convenient frame, various stories were inserted at different times, sometimes whole cycles of stories, in turn framed, for example, “The Tale of the Hunchback”, “The Porters and Three Girls”, etc. Some researchers have, throughout the literary history of “1001 Nights” at least five different editions (titles) of the collection of fairy tales under this title. One of these sources was widely used in the 12th-13th centuries. in Egypt, where in the
Selecting a fairy tale for recording, professional storytellers always had in mind a certain audience – this is clearly shown in the inscription on one of the surviving manuscripts of “Nights.” Not always having the material for a full number of nights, the scribes resorted to repeating fairy tales almost identical in the plot, or filled the gap with anecdotes borrowed from numerous prose anthologies in Arabic literature.
Tales of Shahrazade can be divided into three main groups, which can be conditionally called fairy tales heroic, adventurous and picaresque. To the group of heroic tales are fantastic stories that probably make up the oldest core of “1001 Nights” and go back some of its features to its Persian prototype “Hezar-Efsane”, as well as long knightly novels of an epic nature. The style of these stories is solemn and how gloomy; the main actors in them are usually kings and their grandees. In some fairy tales of this group, for example. in the story of the wise maiden Takaddul, the didactic trend is clearly visible. In the literary respect, heroic tales have been handled more thoroughly than others; the turns of the people’s speech are banished from them,
To “court” tales are for example. “Qamar al-Zaman and Budur”, “Vedr Basim and Dzhanhar”, “The Tale of Tsar Omar ibn-en-Numan,” “Ajib and Tarib” and some others. We find other moods in “adventurous” novels, which arose, probably, in the trade and crafts environment. The kings and sultans act in them not as beings of a higher order, but as the most ordinary people; the favorite type of ruler is the famous Harun-ar-Rashid, who ruled from 786 to 809, that is, much earlier than they took their final form of Shahrazada’s fairy tale. The mention of Caliph Harun and his capital Baghdad can not therefore serve as a basis for dating the “Nights”. The original Harun-ar-Rashid was very little like a kind, magnanimous sovereign from “1001 Nights,” and the tales in which he participates, judging by their language, style and the everyday details encountered in them, could only take shape in Egypt. In content, most of the “adventurous” tales are typical urban fablo. This is most often love stories, the heroes of which are rich merchants, almost always doomed to be passive executors of the cunning plans of their beloved. The last in the tales of this type usually belongs to the primary role – a feature that sharply distinguishes “adventure” novels from “heroic” ones. Typical for this group of fairy tales are: “The Story of Abul Hassan from Oman”, “Abu-l-Hasan Khorasanets”, “Nima and Nubi”, “Loving and Beloved”, “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp”. The last in the tales of this type usually belongs to the primary role – a feature that sharply distinguishes “adventure” novels from “heroic” ones. Typical for this group of fairy tales are: “The Story of Abul Hassan from Oman”, “Abu-l-Hasan Khorasanets”, “Nima and Nubi”, “Loving and Beloved”, “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp”. The last in the tales of this type usually belongs to the primary role – a feature that sharply distinguishes “adventure” novels from “heroic” ones. Typical for this group of fairy tales are: “The Story of Abul Hassan from Oman”, “Abu-l-Hasan Khorasanets”, “Nima and Nubi”, “Loving and Beloved”, “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp”.
“Pluto” tales naturally portray the life of the urban poor and declassed elements. Their heroes are usually dexterous swindlers and rogues – both men and women, for example. immortal in Arab fairy-tale literature, Ali-Zeybak and Dalilah-Chitryts. In these tales there is no trace of respect for the higher classes; on the contrary, “picaresque” tales are full of mocking attacks against representatives of the authorities and clerics – it’s not for nothing that Christian priests and gray-bearded mullahs still disapprovingly look at anyone holding a volume of “1001 nights” in their hands. The language of “picaresque” stories is close to colloquial; verse fragments, little understood by the unsophisticated readers in literature, they are almost absent. Heroes of picaresque tales are distinguished by courage and enterprise and represent a striking contrast to the pampered harem life and idleness by the heroes of “adventurous” tales. In addition to stories about Ali-Zeybak and Delilah, the glorious tales of Mathuf-shoemaker, a fairy tale about Caliphah-fisherman and fisherman Khalifa, standing on the verge between the stories of “adventurous” and “picaresque” type, and some other novels belong to the picaresque tales.
The fabulous cycles stand out in the “1001 Nights”: “Sindbad Travels”, “Safe-Al-Muluk”, “Seven Waziri”. These stories penetrated the collection, probably in literary ways and included in it later other fairy tales.
Since his appearance in the translation of Gallan’s “1001 Nights” has a significant impact on European literature, art and even music. No less significant is the influence of “1001 Nights” on the folklore of the peoples of Europe and Asia, of which extensive works are written, some of which are listed below, in the bibliography.