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Thread: Arabian Nights - historical context?

  1. #1
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    Arabian Nights - historical context?

    I've been reading Arabian Night/One Thousand and One Nights (Richard F. Burton's translation) and I am very confused about the ''slavery'' context of the book, I have a feeling is not at all like the african-american background; the book represents slaves as sometimes being part of the family somehow, like they genuinely care for their masters and accept the status of slave fully.
    What are ''slaves'' in asian/arabic context of the book exactly?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    I'm not an expert, but in "Bend in the River" V.S. Naipal described a 20th century slave who was more like part of the family (this was in Africa, and the family was of Indian descent). I think slavery varied -- some slaves were treated realtively well, others were not. In the Classical West, galley slaves or slaves in the salt mines led short, horrible lives, while some household slaves lived more comfortably. The same was true in the U.S., of course. That's why being "sold down the river" was such a terrible thing. House slaves would be sold to work in the cotton fields. The state of Virginia grew little cotton, and the slaves owned there were profitable mainly by breeding them and selling them down the river. The cotton fields and the sugar cane planations of the West Indies produced horrid conditions for slaves. I don't think life expectancy was quite as short as in the galleys or salt mines, but it was very short.

    By the way, Arabian Nights is replete with racism -- my memory is that the villains are often monstrously huge "negroes".

  3. #3
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    STUDIES IN THE SOCIAL BACKGROUND TO THE ARABIAN NIGHTS by NAZIHA MUKHLIS. There is a chapter about the Slaves in this thesis that might interest you:
    https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/29452/1/10731608.
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