The impact of Middle Eastern folklore

1. 101 Middle Eastern Tales_Main Book
101 Middle Eastern Tales and Their Impact on Western Oral Tradition
Against the methodological backdrop of historical and comparative folk narrative research, 101 Middle Eastern Tales and Their Impact on Western Oral Tradition surveys the history, dissemination, and characteristics of over a hundred narratives transmitted to Western tradition from or by Middle Eastern Muslim literature including written works in Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman Turkish.اضافة اعلان

For a tale to be included, Ulrich Marzolph considered two criteria: the tale had to originate from or at least be transmitted by a Middle Eastern source, and it had to be recorded from a Western narrator’s oral performance in the course of the 19th or 20th century. The rationale behind these restrictive definitions is based on Marzolph’s main concern with the long-lasting effect that some of these narratives held in Western popular tradition and how some tales withstood the test of time.

Marzolph focuses on originally “Oriental” tales that became part of modern Western oral tradition. Through oral retellings, numerous tales from Muslim tradition became an integral part of European oral and written tradition in the form of learned treatises, medieval sermons, late medieval fabliaux, early modern chapbooks, contemporary magazines, and more.

In present times, when national narcissisms often acquire the status of strongholds delineating the “us” against the “other”, it is imperative to distinguish, document, visualize, and discuss the extent to which the West is not only indebted to the Muslim world but also shares common features with Muslim narrative tradition.


“From Belling the Cat to A Pound of Flesh, an absolute master of comparative folklore identifies the Middle Eastern narratives that have entered the Western oral tradition in the past millennium. Ulrich Marzolph’s mastery of classical Persian, Arabic, and Ottoman Turkish sources shines through this volume and will engage the expert and entertain the lay reader.” — Mahmoud Omidsalar, consulting editor in folklore for the Encyclopaedia Iranica and resident scholar at Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies at the University of California, Irvine.

“A bold contribution founded on intimate knowledge of European and Middle Eastern folk narrative scholarship.” — Hasan El-Shamy, professor emeritus in the Departments of Folklore and Ethnomusicology and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, Indiana University, Bloomington.

“This book is an endlessly fascinating ‘story of our stories,’ tracing the resonant linkage between individual tales preserved in Middle Eastern literary traditions and their later lives, as they were transmitted to the West and then circulated orally across Europe and beyond. Marzolph’s erudition and appetite for literary treasure hunts are unsurpassed.” — Margaret Mills, author of Rhetorics and Politics in Afghan Traditional Storytelling.

“Marzolph is one of the leaders in this area of folklore studies and his vast knowledge and experience shows. Overall, this is highly recommended and filled a gap in my extensive folklore library.” — Heidi Anne Heiner, SurLaLune Fairy Tales Blog.

“This is a book of impeccable scholarship and vast learning and at the same time a wonderful treasure trove to dip into at random. It is also a useful reminder that it is misguided to believe that collecting popular tales in one language or country can serve to prove the existence of a national identity or nationhood.” — Geert Jan Van Gelder, Times Literary Supplement.

About the Author

Ulrich Marzolph is a retired professor of Islamic Studies at the Georg-August-University in Göttingen, Germany. His field of expertise is the narrative culture of the Muslim world. His most recent book is Relief after Hardship: The Ottoman Turkish Model for the Thousand and One Days.

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