Borges on Scheherazade;
“…The Thousand and One Nights doubles and dizzyingly redoubles the ramifications of a central tale into digressing tales, but without ever trying to gradate its realities…like a Persian carpet.
The story that introduces the series is well known: the king’s heartbroken oath that each night he will wed a virgin who will be decapitated at dawn, and the fortitude of Scheherazade, who distracts him with wondrous tales until a thousand and one nights have revolved over their two heads and she presents him with his son.
The need to complete a thousand and one segments drove the work’s copyists to all sorts of digressions. None of them is as disturbing as that of night 602, a bit of magic among the nights. In that strange night, the king hears his own story from the queen’s lips. He hears the beginning of the story, which includes all the others, and also – monstrously – itself. Does the reader have a clear sense of the vast possibility held out by this interpolation, its peculiar danger? Were the queen to persist, the immobile king would forever listen to the truncated story of the thousand and one nights, now infinite and circular…In The Thousand and One Nights, Scheherazade tells many stories; one of them is, almost, the story of The Thousand and One Nights…”