Date of Graduation

5-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

English

Advisor

Amy Witherbee

Committee Member

Danny Sexton

Second Committee Member

Mohja Kahf

Keywords

Language, literature and linguistics; Antoine galland; Arabian nights' entertainments; Hanna diab; Scheherazade

Abstract

As soon as the first English texts began to appear, Arabian Nights' Entertainments, as translated by Antoine Galland, captivated the imaginations of most of eighteenth century England, bringing the work instantly into demand. Although the Arabian Nights' Entertainments is generally recognized among scholars for its influence on other fictional tales and travel narratives and its shaping of the West's perception of the East, further study is needed in ascertaining the effect of the rhetorical device of repetition, which is so prevalent within the tales and which gives the collection both its unique character and its ability to engage readers from the time of its original publication onward.

Bearing in mind that translation practices of the eighteenth century allowed creative additions by the translator, this study hopes to approach the Arabian Nights' Entertainments as a collection of fables. Within this framework, I will begin with a close reading of "The Story of the Two Sisters who envied their Younger Sister," which Galland acquired from the storyteller Hanna Diab, to demonstrate that repetition is the defining feature of the tales. Pulling on Judith Butler's concept of performativity, I will then explore what skill Khosrouschah, like Schahriar and the eighteenth century audience, is supposed to be learning through the fables. Examining the purpose of repetition and its effect on both the characters and the audience, I will argue that the repetition within the tales provides the best strategy for unlocking the fables.

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