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YMMV / Arabian Nights

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  • Archive Panic: Hey, I've always wanted to read Arabian Nights! Wait, there's 1001 of these stories?! (Or, to be fair, enough stories to be stretched out over 1001 nights, but we're still talking well over three hundred.)
    • And more than 30 versions of the book.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Aladdin and Ali Baba are the most famous stories from Nights even though they are not in the original source material; in fact their oldest documented versions aren't even in Arabic, but come from the French translation of Antoine Galland.
    • Sinbad the Sailor, who's probably second best known after Aladdin.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: According to The Other Wiki, the Nights to this day aren't particularly well-regarded in the Arabic world to anyone beyond certain writers and scholars, and it was even less popular back whenever it first was written (as Medieval Arabs thought that True Art Is Poetry). It's entirely possible that the Nights have had more influence on European literature than they did on Arabian.
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  • Ho Yay: The old man and the beautiful boys.
  • "Holy Shit!" Quotient: One story has an android pop up out of nowhere. Really unexpected for a story this old.
  • Shocking Swerve: "Adi Bin Zayd and the Princess Hind" seems like a typical romance with the Happy Ending where Adi marries the princess. Then out of nowhere at the very end Scherezade says "after which time the King was wroth with Adi and slew him".
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Shahryar. We're supposed to see him as a Beast-like Anti-Villain whom Scheherazade redeems and helps find new happiness. However, his Disproportionate Retribution Revenge by Proxy against countless innocent women, combined with the below-mentioned Values Dissonance, makes him come across as The Caligula and a Karma Houdini to many readers instead.
  • Values Dissonance: Like crazy. Many/most of the stories portray women as devious, immoral, unfaithful, foolish, and untrustworthy, and there's something of an obsession with women cheating on their husbands with black men, as if that's particularly egregious. Beating one's wife is treated as acceptable and even laudable. It's not uncommon for male characters to have sex with women who aren't their wives, and this isn't treated as morally objectionable, whereas a woman cheating is treated as a justly capital offense.
    • One notable instance is in the fourth voyage of Sinbad, in which he murders and robs innocent people for their food and jewelry to survive a little while longer in a pit. He apparently didn't even bother to look for an escape, seeing as he easily finds one later, just by following a wild animal that was snacking on all the corpses.
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    • Another one being the story of a King discovering his wife was cheating on him with what later translations claim to be the ugliest man on earth. Apparently more accurate translations were simply that she was cheating on him with a black slave.
    • In one story, a man murders his wife after concluding, after a comment from a random person on the street (who has an apple that her husband travelled a great distance to give to her), that she's unfaithful to him. Immediately after this, he learns that he was wrong. When the sultan learns of the murder and the man tells him this story, the sultan orders the death of the man who falsely claimed the wife was cheating, but appoints the murderer to a high position.
    • On the other hand, in the first section of the King 'Umar ibn al-Nu'man stories we meet a group of warrior women whose leader can fight a warrior prince to a stalemate... She is then drugged and raped by the King, so she flees in 'dishonour'. So close to being ahead of its time.
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    • For that matter, the framing device of the three years before Scheherezade marries the king. At no point is Shahryar called out on the fact that he's killed a thousand innocent women, just because he was deceived by one, nor does he ever admit he was wrong or try to atone. And we're supposed to be happy that Scheherezade ends up with him!
    • Though in universe, the obsession with cheating could be a deliberate ploy by Scheherazade to appeal to the sultan.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: The book is known for its violent, sexual, misogynistic, and racist content. Thanks to Values Dissonance, it borders on Black Comedy at times.
  • Why Would Anyone Take Her Back?:
    • (In the 2010 musical) The male genie and Aladdin take back Djinninia and Jasmina in spite of all the wrong they've done.
    • More commonly, why would anyone agree to marry a man so vengeful and cruel that he enacted a plan to marry a new woman every day, sleep with her at night, and then kill her in the morning — in some versions, for three whole years? A man that vicious should be put down, never mind the fact that he rules a country.

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