The Discourse of Sex at the Arabian Nights Book

Hani Al-Amad


The Tales of Arabian Nights Entertainments have passed through various versions for refinement or bowdlerisation or revision. Nevertheless, these tales enjoy a freedom of expression which makes them unique. They do not heed restrictions or censorship.

The text of these tales remained open till the century of their recording. The text of the final version which came with the recording of the tales, presents a series of homogeneous actions leading to depicting sex and sexual manifestations, authority and its intrigues, knowledge and its necessities, and life and its vicissitudes. This text bears witness to the extent of the freedom of expression which the popular narrators used to enjoy.

This paper deals with the discourse of sex in these tales. This discourse has a pivotal idea that regards woman as the quintessence of infidelity and intrigues, poor in reasoning and negligent of religious duties. Her life is based on sex that knows no neutrality, dodging or disguise.

By introducing sex into her discourse, Scheherazade intends to captivate the emotions of Shahriyar and to liberate him from feeling that he was cheated.. So, she starts by narrating yarns that are morally lenient to transport him from his miserable state to a man of authority and status.

Since sex is basic in Shahriyar’s remedy as it was the cause of his tragedy, Scheherazade intends to present to him all types of women so that he can control his emotions, activate his imagination, sublimate his sexual thinking and convince him that not all women are of the same type of his wanton wife.  


Arabian Nights, Sex, Scheherazade, Shahriyar.

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