As Peter Brooks observes in the opening remarks of his Reading for the Plot, story-telling is an inherently human activity, responding to a primeval «narrative impulse» we experience from earliest childhood, and one that pertains philogenetically to human civilisation, as the importance of myths and folktales in the oldest cultures in providing explanations for otherwise unintelli- gible events shows. This narrative impulse responds to a basic need to make sense of experience, creating paradigms of interpretation for a reality qualified by time-boundedness and mortality. The permanent fascination of The Arabian Nights on generations of readers certainly has to do with this impulse, inasmuch as story-telling, in the Nights’ tales, turns out to be at once the means and the end of narration, its overt object and the tool which that object is creating. On the other hand, the history itself of the dissemination of The Arabian Nights, and their pervasive influence on Western culture and conceptualization of the Orient, is as portentous as the stories they tell [...] I would like to focus on a fragment of this history, investigating some of the inter-textual crossings through which the Nights and their world offered Romantic-era writers both an indirect means to the articulation of Western ethnocentric, but still not unambiguous discourse, and the material for embodying otherness as a saving force related to the realm of the imagination. Two texts are taken into consideration to this end, Maria Edgeworth’s orientalizing tale «Murad the Unlucky», and William Wordsworth’s Fifth Book of The Prelude.

“Reading for the Nights: Echoes of the _Arabian Nights Entertainments_ in the Romantic Era”

DELLAROSA, Franca
2006

Abstract

As Peter Brooks observes in the opening remarks of his Reading for the Plot, story-telling is an inherently human activity, responding to a primeval «narrative impulse» we experience from earliest childhood, and one that pertains philogenetically to human civilisation, as the importance of myths and folktales in the oldest cultures in providing explanations for otherwise unintelli- gible events shows. This narrative impulse responds to a basic need to make sense of experience, creating paradigms of interpretation for a reality qualified by time-boundedness and mortality. The permanent fascination of The Arabian Nights on generations of readers certainly has to do with this impulse, inasmuch as story-telling, in the Nights’ tales, turns out to be at once the means and the end of narration, its overt object and the tool which that object is creating. On the other hand, the history itself of the dissemination of The Arabian Nights, and their pervasive influence on Western culture and conceptualization of the Orient, is as portentous as the stories they tell [...] I would like to focus on a fragment of this history, investigating some of the inter-textual crossings through which the Nights and their world offered Romantic-era writers both an indirect means to the articulation of Western ethnocentric, but still not unambiguous discourse, and the material for embodying otherness as a saving force related to the realm of the imagination. Two texts are taken into consideration to this end, Maria Edgeworth’s orientalizing tale «Murad the Unlucky», and William Wordsworth’s Fifth Book of The Prelude.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11586/18126
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