The Arabian Nights and Tolkien

I have to write this last post because after all Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings are amazing and I want to explore some of the connections between Tolkien’s creation of Middle Earth and what we have seen in the 1001 Nights.  While the Nights often focuses on story telling and the frame story of Scheherazade and Shahryar the magical elements and far off adventures seems like a proto-fantasy novel.

We all probably have seen The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit or at least read them, and when viewing these it is hard not to see how the adventure journeys of Bilbo and Frodo are not some what inspired off of the adventures of Sinbad and Aladdin.  While we have discussed (briefly) how The Nights possibly inspired the Canterbury Tales, it would therefore seem that because Tolkien desired to create a new mythology of British Isles, that being drawn to the works of Chaucer would have caused the Nights to be an inspiration for Middle Earth.  It seems that because Tolkien was a professor of philology at Oxford he was primarily concerned with Old Norse Sagas such as The Volsunga Saga and other Norse mythologies.  As Tolkien read and understood these old languages and mythologies it seems that his Middle Earth is similar to a creation by Scheherazade.  They both combine different histories and different cultures to create an overall narrative of some magical and fantastical world.

If I had more time I think it would be interesting to see how the Nights inspired the horror of Lovecraft’s Mythos as a later extension of this.


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