Relief after Hardship: The Ottoman Turkish Model for The Thousand and One Days.

Author:Maleh, Zina
 
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Relief after Hardship: The Ottoman Turkish Model for The Thousand and One Days. By ULRICH MARZOLPH. Series in Fairy-Tale Studies. Detroit: WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2017. Pp. viii + 151. $39.99.

As presented in the volume under review, Ulrich Marzolph's erudite synthesis of the fifteenth-century Ferec ba'd es-sidde, the origins of the Ottoman Turkish tale collection are as intriguing as its posterity. Marzolph's project takes its cue from the work of Andreas Tietze (d. 2003), who produced an edition and a translation of the text, and whose favored transliteration of its Ottoman Turkish title is adopted by Marzolph as a tribute. Drawing on Tietze's unpublished German translation and on his own extensive knowledge of narrative traditions across languages and periods, Marzolph incorporates Ferec ba (e)d es-sidde into the broader scholarship on Middle Eastern narrative tradition, its European reception in and before the eighteenth century, and comparative folk narrative research.

The book is organized like an edition, with the first half of the volume serving as an introduction to the original text and its history, and summaries of the tales taking up the second half. The introductory part focuses on three main corpora: Petis de la Croix's Les mille et un jours, published in the early eighteenth century amid an appetite for oriental tales in the aftermath of Galland's Arabian Nights translation; the above-mentioned anonymous Ottoman tale compilation Ferec ba'd es-sidde; and the Persian literary genre known as Jdmi' al-hikayat, represented by diverse manuscripts. Marzolph reviews the strong evidence that the main source for Les mille et un jours was the Ottoman Ferec, and that a substantial part of the latter originated in an unidentified representative of the Jami' al-hikayat genre. These relationships are neither straightforward nor exclusive: Petis pretended that his model was a Persian text (he subtitled his collection Contes persons), and the Ferec tales found in his collection are clearly reworked and adapted rather than translated. Moreover, no known manuscript of the Jami' al-hikayat genre contains all forty-two tales of the Ferec, or shares the sequence of tales found in the Ottoman compilation, and the oldest known Jami' specimen (sixteenth century at best) is younger than the oldest known Ferec manuscript. The importance, then, of the "postscript" that Marzolph appends to his first part should not be overlooked. When his book was...

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