peacocks and procrastination: reading arabian nights

What does Sir Richard Burton’s translation of Arabian Nights and a peacock have in common?


Seriously—one is a book of stunning fables and beautifully convoluted narration and the other is a random photo I took over six months ago and happens to be the only pic I could get my hands on at 4.20pm this afternoon.

The only thing that connects them is me and my pathological and shameful laziness.

To bring you up to speed, The Cat and I traded places this week thinking that a few extra days would be more than enough to get a book finished.

Now I could have done the sensible thing and kicked myself into gear and produced a well-planned post with a coordinated photo that reflected the few days extension … or I could spend three days stuffing my face with chocolate and gummi-worms, guzzling coffee and spending a full day off work between the seduction of YouTube and aimlessly wandering around my empty house contemplating a career as a spy.

The peacock speaks for itself.

So, in place of the considered and thoughtful review I was hoping would just write itself, this week I took a look at the beautifully convoluted and stunningly narrated collection of stories that is Arabian Nights.

If you’re not familiar with the Middle Eastern-esque collection of stories, it is where Disney’s Aladdin came from, along with a few other classic stories like Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and  is the source of almost every reference in the Genii’s song when Aladdin and the monkey are trapped in the cave with a giant, blue Robin Williams.

In a nutshell, the central narrative is constructed by the young and beautiful Scheherazade (who shall henceforth be known as Sharon for pronunciation purposes) who is married to a king with a nasty habit of beheading his wives on a daily basis.

Managing to keep her head firmly and safely attached, the cunning new princess keeps the king hanging on the edge of the bed each night through the clever use of cliff-hanging story endings—drawing on her seemingly inexhaustible bank of fables and tales, Sharon manages to live to fight another day, never completing her stories for the chop-happy royal.

The effect of this no beheading in exchange for stories arrangement is the famous construction of a narrative-in-a-narrative technique that writers have been reproducing for decades.

Needless to say, the trick to surviving this one is just going with it.

Each fable is stunning and beautifully constructed, but the continual story-in-a-story technique can get a little repetitive after a while.

If you are looking for a fast-paced narrative that keeps you hanging, maybe try a thriller because this one is more about letting yourself get lost in the wibbly-wobbly and circular story-telling and delectably poetic style of a truly committed storyteller.

In all, this is one of the most stunningly narrated tales you will come across and the perfect holiday companion.

In my week of absurd laziness, this one was a welcome distraction.


From the internet friend who would procrastinate from sleeping in if it wasn’t so easy,



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