The Thief of Bad Gags

Catchy title, no? A spin taken from Sheherezade’s stories of 1001 Arabian Nights, more accurately called The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night.  This is where we get the tales of Aladdin, Abu the thief of Baghdad, and Alibaba and the 40 Thieves.

Who was Sheherezade?
Scheherazade was the daughter of the vizier, the king’s high-ranking political adviser. She grew up in the palace a free woman and a well educated one at that. With access to the books and writings, she immersed herself in poetry, philosophy, the sciences, and the arts, and knew the history and legends of all the kings of many lands. Of the last, she was said to have collected a thousand books on the topic. Wise, witty, and well read, Scheherazade was also known to be pleasant, sweet, and polite. 

Because the faithless wife whom he had loved deeply had betrayed him, Shahryār, the Persian king, vowed he would not be betrayed again. But the law of the land said he must have a wife. To get around that sticky fact, he married, spent the night with, and then beheaded the next wife. And the one after her. And the next. Story has it that 1000 wives met a similar fate.

Now, Scheherazade knew the boy the king scheherazadehad been and had loved him the whole of her life. It troubled her that he was so unhappy. She was certain that whatever it was that led him to marry and behead 1000 wives must be a deep and unrelenting pain in his heart. So against her father’s wishes, Scheherazade volunteered to become Shahryār’s new wife. However, as intelligent a woman as she was, Scheherazade did not come to this union without a plan.

That night after their wedding, she started telling a story, a farewell story she had written for her sister. And the king was captivated by it. As the sun was rising on the day she was to be beheaded, she ended the storytelling at a suspenseful spot. Needing to know how it ended, the king allowed her to live another day. That night she continued the tale, and come morning she once more left him hanging. This went on for 1001 nights and over the course of that time, Scheherazade’s sweetness and the lessons in her stories encouraged Shahryār’s heart to heal. In fact, he’d fallen in love with Scheherazade and she became a true queen of Persia.

Lost in translation

Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821 – 1890) the famous English geographer and orientalist was known for translating some eastern texts into English. He translated 1001 Arabian Nights and the famous Kama Sutra. With the Kama Sutra he lost the point entirely and made it all about sex. A little known fact: The Kama Sutra has a single chapter on sex and a rather thin one at that. The book was about finding pleasure in the smallest things like creature comforts, perfumed scents, textures of fabrics, and sumptuous foods. But Sir Richard, captivated as he was by the erotic elements of one chapter, introduced the Kama Sutra to the Victorian world — a work taken out of context, thus making it something it never was.

A side note: The Obscene Publications Act of 1857  (Lord Campbell’s Act) was an obscenity law in Great Britain. Seeking to get around all that, in 1882, Sir Richard and his partner, Forster Fitzgerald Arbuthnot, created The Kama Shastra Society –a secretive “educational” society.  They claimed their purpose was to “remove the scales from the eyes of Englishmen who are interested in Oriental literature.” While outwardly appearing scholarly, the Kama Shastra Society was about having access to erotica from the Orient.  But they only read them for the articles. lol

berle_milton_smJust so you know The Thief of Bad Gags was a name given to that joke-stealing comedian and one-time vaudevillian, Milton Berle. Today is Milton Berle Day.  And this was my roundabout way of saying it.  😀


Tomorrow ~ Fun Day Sunday!

Saturday & Sunday Happenings

Sexy Snippets & My Sexy Saturday

Seductive Studs and Sirens & Weekend Writing Warriors

A Saturday Teaser

Sneak Peek Sunday

Sunday Snippet
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My musings are still up on
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My Family’s Living History


For 100 days, I’ll post something from my chosen topic: Clichés.
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About ~RoseAnderson

Rose Anderson is an award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in discovering interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes under the pen name Madeline Archer.
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8 Responses to The Thief of Bad Gags

  1. Ray G says:

    Uncle Milty was quite a character alright.
    I really enjoyed both stories. I did not know the story about the Kama Sutra. The other one I had heard.
    My favorite Persian poem is by the tent maker, philosopher and mathematician and writer of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

    Speaking of 1001 nights, One night my wife and I were visiting her great aunt who was in her seventies. I had to rescue her from a bar where she was trying to pick up men. When we her got home she sat on one side of my wife and I was on the other side in a booth in her kitchen reading and discussing the Rubaiyat until the sun came up. If I bring it up my wife will still tell how she wanted to got to bed and we wouldn’t let her out. The visit was in the late sixties.

    • That’s funny. When we host poetry nights here, the Rubaiyat comes out. Smooth writing. I’ve often wondered though…like song lyrics in other languages, once you translate them they don’t rhyme. How did the translators get those Persian texts to rhyme? What was original and what was the translator’s fancy? Another smooth piece of writing is the Song of Solomon. Heavy metaphor. I love that.

  2. melissakeir says:

    Another interesting post. Uncle Milty was loved by so many. Too bad that the greats are gone. 🙂

    Now I also got from your story that we should leave our readers interested and filled with yearning to keep reading! 🙂

  3. melissakeir says:

    Uncle Milty was a favorite of mine. Too bad that the great ones are gone. 🙂

    Your story also reminded me that as authors we need to hook our reader to keep them interested and wanting to read more. 🙂 Great post and very informative!

  4. If Scheherazade were alive today, she’d top the bestseller lists, no doubt.

    And the Kama Sutra must have been the Victorian “50 Shades of Gray” of that era. I can just see all the ladies fanning themselves…

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