Scheherazade

One of the first long-playing (LP, 33 1⁄3 rpm) vinyl records I got as a teenager was Rimsky-Korsakov’s symphonic poem Scheherazade. The music, with its middle-eastern influences, captivated me. That led me to investigate the source of the Scheherazade story, the collection of tales called A Thousand and One Nights, also known as Arabian Nights. Here’s how Wikipedia describes the collection:

“The story goes that the monarch Shahryar, on discovering that his first wife was unfaithful to him, resolved to marry a new virgin every day and to have her beheaded the next morning before she could dishonour him. Eventually the vizier could find no more virgins of noble blood and offered his own daughter, Scheherazade, as the king’s next bride.

“Sir Richard Burton’s translation of The Nights, describes Scheherazade in this way:

“Scheherazade had perused the books, annals, and legends of preceding Kings, and the stories, examples, and instances of bygone men and things; indeed it was said that she had collected a thousand books of histories relating to antique races and departed rulers. She had perused the works of the poets and knew them by heart; she had studied philosophy and the sciences, arts, and accomplishments; and she was pleasant and polite, wise and witty, well read and well bred.”

More next time.

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