Scheherazade's Children

Global Encounters with the Arabian Nights

466 pages

November, 2013

ISBN: 9781479857098



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Philip F. Kennedy is Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and Comparative Literature at New York University, and Vice Provost for Public Programming for the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute.

All books by Philip F. Kennedy

Marina Warner is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, University of London and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy. Her most recent book, Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights, won the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism, as well as the 2013 Sheikh Zayed Book Award.

All books by Marina Warner

Scheherazade’s Children gathers together leading scholars to explore the reverberations of the tales of the Arabian Nights across a startlingly wide and transnational range of cultural endeavors. The contributors, drawn from a wide array of disciplines, extend their inquiries into the book’s metamorphoses on stage and screen as well as in literature—from India to Japan, from Sanskrit mythology to British pantomime, from Baroque opera to puppet shows. Their highly original research illuminates little-known manifestations of the Nights, and provides unexpected contexts for understanding the book’s complex history. Polemical issues are thereby given unprecedented and enlightening interpretations.

Organized under the rubrics of Translating, Engaging, and Staging, these essays view the Nights corpus as a uniquely accretive cultural bundle that absorbs the works upon which it has exerted influence. In this view, the Arabian Nights is a dynamic, living and breathing cross-cultural phenomenon that has left its mark on fields as disparate as the European novel and early Indian cinema. While scholarly, the writers’ approach is also lively and entertaining, and the book is richly illustrated with unusual materials to deliver a sparkling and highly original exploration of the Arabian Nights’ radiating influence on world literature, performance, and culture.


  • "[T]he two editors, both of them well established figures in their relative fields, have done excellent work in producing a volume that has its own internal logic . . . The contributions to this volume are all, by any yardstick one may wish to apply, superb essays in cultural studies, and, in many cases comparative literature studies. A distinguished contribution to Arabian Nights studies."

    —Roger Allen, University of Pennsylvania

  • "The Arabian Nights as much as any work created the category now known as ‘world literature.’ The lively and lucid essays in Scheherazade’s Children explore the fascination and influence The Nights have exerted in various cultures and the book’s sometimes surprising and often amusing metamorphoses."

    —Daniel Beaumont, author of Slave of Desire: Sex, Love, and Death in the 1001 Nights

  • "These scrupulously documented essays justify study of the Nights as 'one of the wellsprings of World Literature' that continues to draw readers, scholars, translators, and artists into a theatrical, imaginary land, which, like the narrator herself, casts an entrancing spell and proves inexhaustible in meanings, 'blending cultural specificities into one vast Prient of the mind.'"

    Publishers Weekly

  • "Beautifully illustrated, this title concludes with a list of the stories, their translations, and adaptations. Though the essays take up academic subjects, they are accessible to general readers."

    Library Journal

  • "[A] splendid recently published anthology."

    —Patricia Storace, The New York Review of Books

  • "The Arabian Nights is one of a kind in leaving a lasting mark on various fields of knowledge, including art, theater, screen, and literature. Until the appearance of the Arabian Nights, no mythical character had captured such wide and global attention as Scheherazade, with her wit, intelligence, and courage. The work, like its evolving tales, continues to generate scholarly studies and diverse cultural work of merit. Kennedy and Warner have put together such a book. Scheherazade's Children provides a solid testimony to the power of this fascinating world classic, which transcends countries, languages, and cultures. The 18 essays, all by renowned scholars, explore compelling topics that will help anyone delve into the secret world of imagination that the Arabian Nights initiated. The extensive examination of the different translations of the Nights is impressive and illuminating: it prepares readers of this book to make their choice from the myriad of renderings to build their own appreciations and evaluations. And the volume's scholarly analyses will further the reader's understanding and enjoyment of a classic work. This volume will enchant readers across all disciplines. Summing Up: Highly recommended."

    —A.S. Jawad, Choice

  • "It is almost impossible now for Western writing not to draw on the Nights. This collection is a call to us to go back to that most wonderful of books, Alf layla wa-layla, and read and reread it endlessly, and learn from it as equals."

    —Roz Kaveney, Times Literary Supplement

  • Scheherazade’s Children is an excellent collection of essays covering several aspects of the Arabian Nights.”

    British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies: