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date: 11 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the influence of Alf layla wa layla (A Thousand and One Nights), the ingenious Arabic cycle of stories, on the development of the novel as a literary genre. It shows that the Nights helped shape the European novel in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The chapter first explains how the French translation of the Nights and its popularity in Europe led to its incorporation in world literature, creating an enduring taste for “Orientalism” in many forms. It then considers how the Nights became integrated in modern Arabic literature and how Arabic novels inspired by it were used to criticize social conditions, dictatorial authority, and the lack of freedom of expression. It also discusses the Nights as a source of innovation for the trend of magical realism, as well as its role in the interaction between the Arab world and the West.

Keywords: Alf layla wa layla, A Thousand and One Nights, European novel, world literature, Orientalism, Arabic literature, magical realism, Arab world, Arabic novel

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