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Tales of Ordinary Madness
Charles Bukowski
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Italo Calvino
Tales from the Arabian Nights - Anonymous, Andrew Lang

The Tales from the Arabian Nights is probably the finest example of what a magical narrative should be. If I had to categorize this collection of tales, I would not call them fairy tales, but rather magical tales.

Since almost everyone is familiar with the premise behind these stories, I shall not go into detail concerning the backdrop for this fine collection. Rather, I shall express my opinion about them.

Aside from the impact these tales (once introduced in Europe) had on the western literary tradition, they continue to entertain generation after generation of readers the world over. Unlike many passing narratives, The Tales from the Arabian Nights remain timeless, for in their core they portray human nature perhaps better than any other similar collection. They can be enjoyed by readers both young and old, new and experienced, and even the returning reader is sure to find some new experience, some overlooked detail, or a new lesson.

For, in reality, these tales are lessons about humanity. Within Scheherazade's narrative are woven magical lands, mysterious creatures, powerful rulers, and humble commoners. Above all, there are lessons. Lessons about us, lessons about the human nature with all its imperfections.

Yes, as it is with most tales, there is justice, but the justice in this book is not always just, the rulers are often wrong, and the wrongdoers sometimes escape their punishment. And such is, and has been, our world. But there is an inherent hope that all will turn out well, that the evil will receive, in due time, its punishment, and that the victims will be recognized and treated as such.

And that is the same hope we have to hold onto even in our times, because our world is not that different from the world of Scheherazade. We may have replaced sultans with presidents, dervishes with priests, and camels with wheeled vehicles. Nevertheless, we remain flawed.