Narrativity in The Thousand and One Nights

Karam Nayebpour


Scheherazade’s art of storytelling is the main vehicle for the fictional worldmaking in The Thousand and One Nights. The overall structure of the folktale narrative depends on the tales she recounts to King Shahriyar, and it is through these tales that she finally is able to change his mind. The richness of the narrative qualities, properties, and techniques in The Thousand and One Nights has attracted narrative scholars and narratologists for a long time. Besides applying the frame narrative as a basic narrative technique for storytelling practices, Scheherazade’s tales include many other narrative aspects, including narrativity-affecting features. Narrativity generally refers to the qualities and features that cause a narrative to be accepted or evaluated as a (prototype) narrative. This paper argues that Scheherazade’s first tale for the king Shahryar, “The Tale of the Merchant and the Ifrit,” includes some narrativity-affecting features which have the potential to inspire its narratee’s, Shahryar’s, emotional and cognitive responses, and hence facilitate his transportation into the storyworld. By capturing his interest with her art of storytelling, Scheherazade is able to avert the king’s heinous crime against herself.


Storytelling, Narrativity and Narrativity-Affecting Features, Narratee (Recipient), Scheherazade, The Thousand and One Nights

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