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2 - Politics, Religion, and Love

How Leo Strauss Read the Arabian Nights

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 June 2022

Rasoul Namazi
Affiliation:
Duke Kunshan University, China
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Summary

Chapter 2 of this study is dedicated to the interpretation of a typescript entitled “1001 Nights.” The transcript contains detailed notes on many of the stories included in the Calcutta II version of the Arabian Nights. For several generations, scholars of the Arabian Nights have directed their attention mainly toward questions regarding the sources and origins of the stories included in the Arabian Nights, as well as the study of their strictly formal characteristics. When not engaged exclusively with the literary study of the Arabian Nights, most scholars tend to read this remarkable document of Arabic thought to obtain information about the common mentalities and beliefs of the medieval and early modern Islamic societies. Unlike many of these studies, Strauss has offered a remarkable theologico-political interpretation of this famous Arabic text. In his notes, composed sometime after 1959, Strauss concentrates exclusively on the teachings of the stories included in the Arabian Nights, and reads the text as a coherent, carefully crafted whole rather than as an anthology of unconnected tales.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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