A Thousand and One Nights: Oral Epic Performance

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The Tale of Anas al-Wujud and al-Ward fi-l-Akmam. An Oral Performance by Awadallah Abd al-Jalil Ali

In written manuscript versions of A Thousand and One Nights (also known as the Arabian Nights), the narrator Shahrazad spends eleven nights (371st to 381st nights) recounting an illicit love affair between the handsome soldier Anas al-Wujud and the vizier’s daughter al-Ward fi-l-Akmam. Yet to this day, many of the tales that make up the written corpus continue to be orally recited throughout the Arabic-speaking world. In a performance recorded in 1983 in Mahamid, Aswan Governorate, Egypt, poet Awadallah Abd al-Jalil Ali is the living, reciting teller who speaks in poetry and music to entertain his Upper Egyptian listeners with a distinctive rhymed version. For more information, see Susan Slyomovics, "Performing A Thousand and One Nights in Egypt," Oral Tradition (1994) 9/2 : 390-419.

Photography, Translation, Transliteration by Susan Slyomovics. Multimedia by Rahul Bhushan. Produced for the web by Scott Gruber.

Supplementary media for the UCLA course: A Thousand and One Nights Alf Layla wa-Layla, taught by Prof. Susan Slyomovics.

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Published: Thursday, May 7, 2009