Scheherazade's Sisters: Trickster Heroines and Their Stories in World Literature

Scheherazade's Sisters: Trickster Heroines and Their Stories in World Literature

Scheherazade's Sisters: Trickster Heroines and Their Stories in World Literature

Scheherazade's Sisters: Trickster Heroines and Their Stories in World Literature

Synopsis

Studies the female trickster in folktales and literature from around the world.

Excerpt

Does everyone know the story of Scheherazade; that is, the tale which constitutes the “prologue” to the Arabian Nights? Let me remind you of the story, tell you about Scheherazade herself—who she is, what she did, and how she fits into the framework of female tricksters—let us call such women tricksters. (They are “stars” in trickery.) According to the story, Scheherazade was the older daughter of the vizier (highest court official) who served King Shahrayar, a ruler whose wife (and slaves) had betrayed him through infidelity. Not long before this story begins, the King's younger brother, Shahzaman, had suffered a similar fate. We are told that on the day before Shahzaman was to leave from his kingdom of Samarkand, to visit his brother, he discovered his wife in the act of making love with—of all people—the cook. So outraged was he by this infidelity that Shahzaman drove his sword into both his wife and her lover.

Later when Shahzaman is at Shahrayar's palace, both brothers commiserate with one another on the treachery they have suffered from women. To forget their mutual betrayals, they decide to set out on a journey. In their travels, however, they experience still another instance of wifely infidelity. Their notion of woman's treachery and ungovernable lust irrevocably confirmed, both brothers determine that the whole gender is deceitful and dangerous.

FAST-FORWARD

After Shahzaman, Shahrayar's younger brother, departs for his own kingdom, King Shahrayar cannot rest contented. His having wreaked vengeance . . .

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