Tale Of Aladdin Analysis

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The tale of Aladdin is, thanks to Disney, a story that is well known outside the world/culture from which it originated. Of course, the entire anthology of 1001 Nights owes much of its modern publicity to outside voices who found the tales to be something worth translating and putting to paper. This type of treatment has resulted in a unique reproduction of an ancient text, which, as we have it now, is rife with depictions of the so-called “Orient.” The multitude of cultures must have looked, to the eyes of the translators, like a large jigsaw puzzle; they then attempted to put it together, using their own perspectives, lenses, and sense of understanding. Now, to an extent, this is similar to the process by which the famous historians of East…show more content…
From the outset, we see that there is a bit of a geographical issue, with the setting for the story being set in “a rich and vast kingdom in China,” where “there lived a tailor called Mustafa” (Lyons 737). The nature in which this first sentence is presented to us exudes the idea of the place being very far-off and beyond imagination. By being quite vague– all it says is China– it sort of absolves itself of any biases and depictions that follow in the story; this is almost a disclaimer of sorts. With this in mind, it makes sense that the following depictions of foreign peoples and lands can be a little more fantastical and exotic. Take the magician: It is made explicitly clear that this is no ordinary magician, but an “African magician” (Lyons 738). Though the text does not state anything explicit regarding his origins, it does seem to carry a heavy connotation, due to the seemingly excessive use of “African” as a qualifier. Now, Africa, in the eyes of the Europeans who translated this, was likely a far-off place that the translator had only heard tall tales of, at best. But, it is probably true that the “authors of this story tell us” the magician was from Africa (Lyons 738). However, I believe it is highly unlikely that they reiterated the concept the number of times the translator did, due to the fact that the original “author,” if there was one, likely had a better understanding of that part of the…show more content…
He offers explanations into why they might be a certain way, and often gives conflicting and contrasting accounts of the same story; this shows that he is on a quest for the truth, and not necessarily the most interesting story. In other words, he is being much more charitable towards another culture than the translator of Aladdin is; he acknowledges his own fallibility, and offers multiple sources to indicate the impossibility of knowing exactly what the “others” are like. We can indeed see here that the change of writing purpose seems to have an effect on the portrayals of the unknown. But, can we say this for all instances of historical writing? Let us briefly look at another example of historical chronicling as comparison. Sima Qian’s title was “The Grand Historian.” It was his job to record the happenings of the courts, kings, and administration of the kingdom. As a result, we are left with extremely detailed documents that, by many accounts, are quite accurate for their time. Naturally, Sima Qian also has to deal with these foreigners in his records. So how does he do it compared to our Grecian
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