101 Middle Eastern Tales and Their Impact on Western Oral Tradition (in Fairy-Tale Studies)

October 31, 2020
101 Middle Eastern Tales and Their Impact on Western Oral Tradition (in Fairy-Tale Studies)

Against the methodological backdrop of historical andcomparative folk narrative research, 101 Middle Eastern Talesand Their Impact on Western Oral Tradition surveys thehistory, dissemination, and characteristics of over one hundrednarratives transmitted to Western tradition from or by the MiddleEastern Muslim literatures (i.e., authored written works in Arabic,Persian, and Ottoman Turkish). For a tale to be included, UlrichMarzolph considered two criteria: that the tale originates from orat least was transmitted by a Middle Eastern source, and that itwas recorded from a Western narrator's oral performance in thecourse of the nineteenth or twentieth century. The rationale behindthese restrictive definitions is predicated on Marzolph's mainconcern with the long-lasting effect that some of the "Oriental"narratives exercised in Western popular tradition—those tales thathave withstood the test of time. Marzolph focuses on the originally"Oriental" tales that became part and parcel of modern Western oraltradition. Since antiquity, the "Orient" constitutes thequintessential Other vis-à-vis the European cultures. Whiledelineation against this Other served to define and reassure theSelf, the "Orient" also constituted a constant source offascination, attraction, and inspiration. Through oral retellings,numerous tales from Muslim tradition became an integral part ofEuropean oral and written tradition in the form of learnedtreatises, medieval sermons, late medieval fabliaux, early modernchapbooks, contemporary magazines, and more. In present times, whennational narcissisms often acquire the status of strongholdsdelineating the Us against the Other, it is imperative todistinguish, document, visualize, and discuss the extent to whichthe West is not only indebted to the Muslim world but also sharescommon features with Muslim narrative tradition. 101 Middle EasternTales and Their Impact on Western Oral Tradition is an importantcontribution to this debate and a vital work for scholars,students, and readers of folklore and fairy tales.