Essay on The Thousand and One Nights in the Works of Twain

Essay on The Thousand and One Nights in the Works of Twain

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The Thousand and One Nights is the most important influence on the works of Mark Twain. The Thousand and One Nights or The Arabian Nights is a collection of 264 stories and tales that have become classics in world literature. In the early 18th century the collection was translated into French which made it available to the West(Bloom’s).
The major frame story in The Thousand and One Nights is the story of Scheherazade. She was the wife of King Shahriyar of India who after his first wife betrayed him started to marry a new wife everyday and have them beheaded the next morning. Scheherazade was able to prolong their marriage by telling the king a collection of stories for one-thousand and one nights. On the thousandth and one night he finally loses his desire to kill her.
Many of Scheherazade’s tales are familiar throughout the world including Aladdin and his magic lamp, Ali Baba and the 40 thieves, Abou Hassan the sleeper, Sinbad the sailor, and others. These tales are filled with witches, genies, flying carpets and winged horses, as well as beautiful princesses, dashing desert horsemen, camel caravans and heartless kings. Their magic, romance, exotic settings, and strange characters have long contributed to Western perceptions of the East as “mysterious”.
These stories are also very influential to the works of Mark Twain who made references to The Thousand and One Nights on many different occasions. This influence may be hard to assess but even more greater is that the tales influenced his own imagination. Tom Sawyer may be lacking clear allusions to The Thousand and One Nights, but their spirit can be found in the novel’s many flights of fancy. Around the mid 1860’s Twain was regularly dropping references of The Thousand a...

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...s points to a much more mature audience who could come to understand his allusions. This is why The Thousand and One Nights triumphs all of Twain’s other influences.

Bloom's Literary Reference Online." Facts On File Online Databases. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2011.
" Literary Reference Center - powered by EBSCOhost: The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments." EBSCO Publishing Service Selection Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Nov. 2011.
Rasmussen, Kent. "The Thousand and One Nights in the works of Twain." Bloom's Literary Reference Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.
Sexton, Adam , and Hyeondo Park. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. 1885. Reprint. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley Publishing Inc., 2009. Print.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Hartford: American Pub. Co, 1885. Print.
Twain, Mark. The Innocents Abroad. Hartford: American Pub. Co, 1869. Print.

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