Chaucer used the frame of that collection of stories, to make all of the stories inside that frame more complicated, more ambiguous and more interesting. Our interest in this collection of story is in the frame on the way stories get told. But there are two things for all purposes in this course. The first one is the question what kind of a story does this frame require? The frame itself is in some ways more limiting than that in Chaucer’s since it only has one narrator and a very limited audience. Technically an audience of one that Shahryar allows Dinnerzad is also always there so that there really is an audience of two. Chaucer had 30 tellers and 30 listeners, so the possibilities of the interaction among those 3 people are much greater. Scheherazad needs to stretch her stories over as many nights as she possibly can and the way she does this is by telling nested tales, so that possibly she can have 3 or 4 stories going at one time. What that means if the interaction between teller and listeners is more limited in this collection and it is in Chaucer, the possibilities for narrative complexity are much greater. nested stories: The idea is, never to allow a story to end at the end of a night which would give the king a chance to put her death into morning since he would have heard the end of the story. On the very first night Scheherazad starts a story about a merchant who one day sits down to eat his lunch. When he is finished he throws away the stones from his dates. Notice we have already at first night begun the nesting process, the first sheikh story is actually a story within the story and it has to be finished before we can get back to frame story. Scheherazad’s second important technique in addition to keeping several stories going at once is never to finish story by the time the king needs to sleep for a few hours before getting up and doing his kingly duties for the day. In this story she does that too. The story that the first sheikh tells is about how his wife got herself enchanted into this gazelle he is now leading around. That story he tells has a series of really good climaxes in it and at one point in story the sheikh is approaching a beautiful calf with his knife in his hand, ready to cut the calf’s throat not realizing that the calf is his own enchanted son. Just as he reaches for the calf with his knife Scheherazad said “oh, it’s time for you to get some sleep”, and Dinnerzad she really like to hear the end of the story. Scheherazad says that ending is even better than the story so far and this story is nothing compared to the one that she could tell the next night if she still alive. After the third sheikh has finished his story, we get this. This is from the Richard Britain translation so the language is a little archaic which you get the idea how a narrative strategy works. When it was the third night Dinnerzad her sister said to her finish for us that tale. She replied with joy: that the third old man told the tale to the jinny more wondrous than the two preceding, the jinny marveled with exceeding marvel and shaking with delight cried, low I have given thee the remainder of the merchant’s punishment and for thy sake have I released him. There upon the merchant embraced the old men and thank them and the sheikhs wished him joy on being saved and fared forth each one for his own city. Yet this tale is not more wondrous than the fisherman story. Asked the king what it is the fisherman story and she answered by relating the tale of the fisherman and the jinny. The second really interesting thing about this frame is that it is really deeply embedded in the history of world literature both past and future. Scheherazad says she is not making up any of the stories and that’s through of the entire collection. Arab writers at this period had access to the stories of the Greeks and the Romans and Egyptians and the Berbers and the Persians and the Indians and scholars have in fact traced many...
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