(7/6/02 1:16:30 pm)
| Arabian Nights and Current Arab relations|
I started a modern day literary project using Arabian Nights as a metaphor before 9/11.
I don't want to dilute out the exotic Arabian influences.
I also don't want the audience distracted by modern day Arab politics because that has nothing to do with the work.
How do you strike a balance?
(7/6/02 11:24:09 pm)
| Re: Arabian Nights and Current Arab relations|
I'd suggest to focus on the fact that the healing power of stories applies to everyone, regardless of their ethnic background (or gender or class or age). I know this is a grand oversimplification but it's an important reminder that when all is said and done, everyone has the wants, needs and emotions that come with being human...
Probably not much help there, but just a thought.
Want to tell more about your project???
(7/7/02 6:34:46 am)
Re: Arabian Nights and Current Arab relations
The project uses film-school fairy tale structure, as well as extensive fairy tale elements.
The heroine becomes a trickstar like Scheherezade to survive. The modern day fairy godfather for her son was a Jewish child of Middle Eastern descent who was in Bergen Belsen. He used the Arabian Nights stories to survive. Now he sees the heroine, a Catholic, as a modern day Scheherezade, which circumstances have made her.
Historically, some of the original manuscripts were sold by Jewish merchants in Egypt. Many in the world are Jews of Arab descent. These stories haven't been an exclusive tradition to the Mid-East and Orient for a very long time. I'm using the Haddaway translation which doesn't include extensive prayers to Allah. A minor character is Arab.
Scripts can be changed after sale, unlike books, poetry, and plays which contractually require writer permission. It's no secret to this list how dramatically Disney and other production companies "sanitize" works. They can and will consider current audience sensitivities to 9/11, Mid East hostilities and other issues.
The trick is for me to consider potential studio concerns now. Doing that will force a tighter story weave, a better story, and a smaller hatchet when it goes to final edit.
I greatly appreciate any and all input, no matter how tangential it may seem. The depth of scholarship and creativity on this list is awesome. Heidi's site is a gift to the world.
(7/8/02 6:08:15 pm)
| Arabian Nights|
My feeling is that you shouldn't approach your issues any differently today than you would have pre-Sept 11. Write your manuscript. See what it "looks/feels" like when it is done. Then you will have a better sense as to whether you wish to "adjust" it for post-Sept 11 sensitivities.
I too am now working on a story that I began pre-Sept 11 with post-Sept 11 implications. I tabled the novel for many months until I felt comfortable continuing. While my novel has nothing to do with fairy tales or in fact Arabs/Arabian history, it does deal with military intrigue (not really terrorism). So you see, I understand some of what you are dealing with.
(7/9/02 7:26:44 am)
Your project sounds fascinating--and really very wonderful. I think the universal appeal of the figure of Shaharazad is her ability to artfully use story and storytelling--something we are all seduced by--to survive. Even a teenager standing on the threshold of the back door at three in the morning has been known to pull out elaborate story telling to avoid the sword of parental wrath. The west loves the Arabian nights tales because to us they are so exotic--more so than the familiar tropes of our own traditions--and when added to the long standing culture of Imperialism--for the west these tales also became fantastic landscapes where the social rules, prohibitions and points of sensuality were different and therefore exciting. It didn't matter perhaps that the tales had a very moral center (according to Arab perspective). So our western take on the tales has always been to privilege and exploit the exoticness of the tale--rather than the larger meanings/interpretation which was familiar to Arab listeners (for example--Hadawwy gives a great example in the intro on page xviii of how the idea of marriage differs between the translations--giving an entirely different idea about the rules of marriage from Arab to western sensibilities).
anyway--my point in all this is to suggest that if you are focused on the moral center of the tales--choosing them from the Arabian nights for their messages/meanings--I think you will be in that place that is more universal perhaps in meaning--and less about exploiting a foreign culture for its exotic possiblities (which in turn leads to stereotypes). It seems you are already on your way there with the really interesting mix of characters and perspectives. I would think that the content of the stories which I am assuming will be intregrated with the larger frame of the story and the subtext of the narrative--is what will keep the narrative strong enough to withstand brutal cuts. Does this make sense?? I think in the long run, it depends on respect--and knowledge of the deeper meanings of Sharahzad's tales--and then dovetailing those ideas into your modern story--rather than using the tales as schtick (please understand I am not in any way saying you are doing this!! more thinking that Disney tends to do this--playing to the surface of the stories rather than the depth--but if your piece welds the two experiences together it will be harder for the studio to try and sell one without the other). If you have access to a good university library try using a data base called EBSCO to collect some really great recent articles on the tales...from feminist perspectives, political perspectives--and more often by Arab scholars. A reference librarian can show you how to hook up to EBSCO--it's my favorite first stop in research).
do keep us posted on your progress.