Arabian Nights and Days
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"Arabian Nights and Days" Summary

By Naguib Mahfouz

fiction | 228 pages | Published in NaN

A renowned Nobel Prize-winning novelist refashions the classic tales of Scheherazade in his own imaginative, spellbinding style. Here are genies and flying carpets, Aladdin and Sinbad, Ali Baba, and many other familiar stories, made new by the magical pen of the acknowledged dean of Arabic letters.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A collection of interconnected stories set in a fantastical Arabian world, blending folklore and social commentary.


"Arabian Nights and Days" is a captivating novel by Naguib Mahfouz, the Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian author. Set in the ancient city of Baghdad, the novel is a rich tapestry of interwoven tales that bring to life the enchanting world of "One Thousand and One Nights." Mahfouz masterfully blends fantasy, folklore, and philosophical musings to create a thought-provoking narrative that delves into the complexities of human nature, power, and morality.

Brief Synopsis

The novel is set in the mythical city of Baghdad, where the inhabitants are still reeling from the aftermath of the legendary tales told by Scheherazade. As the city grapples with the aftermath of the storytelling, a series of intertwining stories unfold, revealing the intricate web of human desires, ambitions, and moral dilemmas. Against the backdrop of a city steeped in magic and intrigue, the characters navigate love, power, and the timeless struggle between good and evil.

TitleArabian Nights and Days
AuthorNaguib Mahfouz
SettingBaghdad, mythical Middle Eastern city
GenreFiction, Fantasy, Folklore

Main Characters

Hareth Al-FarA powerful and enigmatic ruler of the city, grappling with the burdens of leadership and personal desires.
TawaddudAn alluring and intelligent woman who seeks fulfillment beyond traditional gender roles.
JullanarA mysterious woman with a troubled past, entangled in a web of love, power, and deceit.
BataouilA loyal and devoted companion, navigating the complexities of loyalty and duty.

Main Events

The Unveiling of Hareth Al-Far's Inner Turmoil

Hareth Al-Far, the ruler of Baghdad, struggles with the weight of his responsibilities and the yearning for personal fulfillment. His internal conflict sets the stage for the intricate power dynamics and moral dilemmas that unfold throughout the novel.

Tawaddud's Quest for Autonomy

Tawaddud, an alluring and intelligent woman, challenges traditional gender roles and societal expectations as she seeks fulfillment beyond the confines of her prescribed existence. Her journey sparks discussions on autonomy, agency, and the limitations imposed on women in a patriarchal society.

Jullanar's Intriguing Past

Jullanar, a mysterious woman with a troubled history, becomes embroiled in a complex web of love, power, and deceit. Her enigmatic past unravels, revealing the interconnectedness of the characters' fates and the enduring consequences of their actions.

Themes and Insights

Power and Corruption

The novel explores the intoxicating allure of power and its corrupting influence on those who wield it. Through the lens of Hareth Al-Far's rule and the characters' interactions, Mahfouz delves into the complexities of leadership, morality, and the seductive nature of absolute power.

Gender and Autonomy

Tawaddud's quest for autonomy challenges traditional gender norms and societal expectations, sparking discussions on agency, freedom, and the limitations imposed on women in a patriarchal society. Mahfouz skillfully intertwines these themes with the characters' personal journeys, offering poignant insights into the struggles for self-determination.

Fate and Consequences

The novel intricately weaves a tapestry of interconnected fates, highlighting the enduring consequences of the characters' choices and actions. Mahfouz delves into the complexities of destiny, morality, and the inescapable repercussions of one's decisions, underscoring the timeless themes of accountability and redemption.

Reader's Takeaway

"Arabian Nights and Days" immerses readers in a mesmerizing world of enchantment, weaving together a tapestry of interconnected tales that delve into the depths of human nature, power, and morality. As readers journey through the mythical city of Baghdad, they are confronted with thought-provoking insights into the complexities of leadership, gender dynamics, and the enduring consequences of fate and choice. Naguib Mahfouz's masterful storytelling and rich exploration of timeless themes make this novel a captivating and introspective read that lingers in the mind long after the final page.


In "Arabian Nights and Days," Naguib Mahfouz invites readers on a spellbinding journey through the mythical city of Baghdad, where the echoes of Scheherazade's tales linger, intertwining the fates of captivating characters. Through the novel's exploration of power, gender dynamics, and the enduring consequences of fate and choice, Mahfouz crafts a thought-provoking narrative that resonates with timeless insights into the complexities of human nature and morality. As readers navigate the intertwining stories and intricate web of desires, they are drawn into a world of enchantment and introspection, making "Arabian Nights and Days" a captivating literary exploration of the human experience.

Arabian Nights and Days FAQ

  1. What is 'Arabian Nights and Days' about?

    Arabian Nights and Days is a novel by Naguib Mahfouz that is a sequel to the famous 'One Thousand and One Nights'. It continues the tales of Scheherazade and includes stories of love, magic, and political intrigue.

  2. Is 'Arabian Nights and Days' suitable for all ages?

    The book contains adult themes and some violent content, so it may not be suitable for younger readers.

  3. What is the writing style of 'Arabian Nights and Days'?

    The writing style of 'Arabian Nights and Days' is rich and descriptive, capturing the essence of the mythical Arabian world.

  4. Are the stories in 'Arabian Nights and Days' interconnected?

    Yes, the stories in the book are interconnected, weaving together to form a larger narrative that reflects the complexities of human nature and society.

  5. Is 'Arabian Nights and Days' a standalone novel or should I read 'One Thousand and One Nights' first?

    While 'Arabian Nights and Days' is a sequel, it can be enjoyed as a standalone novel. However, reading 'One Thousand and One Nights' first may provide additional context and depth to the stories.