Comparing The Decameron to The Arbian Nights, how important is the tale and the teller?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In these two wonderful texts, I would argue that the tale and the teller are intimately connected and cannot really be separated if we are to understand the stories that are told. In many ways, these two texts can also be usefully compared to Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, as all three employ a framing narrative that involves stories within stories, for very different reasons.

What is key to realise therefore about all of these texts is that the wonderful stories that are told by various characters within the texs cannot really be divorced and taken in isolation from the context where they emerged from. We need to remember in The Decameron the way in which the ten storytellers are telling each other stories that in some ways respond to earlier stories that have been told. In the same way, in The Arabian Nights, Scheherazade tells stories that develops themes and builds on what she has said before, which many critics have usefully compared to her own situation as having to tell stories or die. The text as a whole therefore needs to be studied, and not just the stories within the text in isolation, as to do so would be to miss out on so much of the purpose and intent of the original authors.


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