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The History of Fantasy Literature

How Not to Be Beheaded

Let's jump ahead a few thousand years and examine the 9th Century Arabian collection One Thousand and One Nights. What makes this gem so special is that it's a fantasy story about fantasy stories. That's right: storytellers of the 9th Century knew how to pull off "meta" with as much aplomb as Joss Whedon. The framing device is the story of a grumpy king named Shahryar, who decides to get back at his cheating wife by marrying a virgin every day and beheading her after the wedding night. Yup, line up for this one, ladies, he's a real catch! Shahryar works his way through 1,000 brides, but is quickly outwitted by his 1,001st wife Scheherazade. Instead of losing her head, she uses her head, hypnotizing him with a series of fantastical stories to elude her death sentence. The result is a wildly imaginative collection in which a gift for storytelling trumps all. Scheherazade FTW, as the saying goes.

Tags: history, slideshows, fantasy, cs lewis, the hobbit, jrr tolkien, books-and-comics, the lord of the rings

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Becky Ferreira

Becky Ferreira is a writer, performer, and raptor based in New York.

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