Is there a political vision for today in the stories of the Arabian Nights? Can Edward Said’s thoughts on contrapuntal interpretation and late style be applied to these fairy tales. Is oriental fabulism a form of polyvalent allegory? The Victorian translators and editors of the book were demolished by Said in Orientalism. But he expressed admiration for other interpreters, and new editions, such as that by Andre Miquel and Jamel Eddine Bencheikh in 2005, have revisioned the book with sensitive awareness of its context and meanings. Marina Warner explores the question of the Nights in our time of antagonism, with special attention to ‘The Prince of the Black Isles’ in which a multicultural city is first destroyed, then restored.
This lecture was given at the Edward Said Memorial Conference, which focused on Edward Said’s legacy and paid tribute to the 10th anniversary of his passing. Each day of the conference featured renowned speakers and established academics on Edward Said’s work. Major attention was paid to cultural activities that resounded with Said’s vision in combining scholarship with the Arts so as to support the quest for justice, self-determination and equality.