A Mere Record Of Upholstery

Aladdin is possibly the best-known of the Tales Of The One Hundred And One Nights, fodder for panto and Disney and even for film-makers in the Soviet Union. I have never read the story myself, in any version, and I doubt that I ever will, now that I have chanced upon Thomas De Quincey’s judgment of it.

In Infant Literature, he wrote: “in Aladdin, after the possession of the lamp has been once secured by a pure accident, the story ceases to move. All the rest is a mere record of upholstery; how this saloon was finished today, and that window on the next day, with no fresh incident whatever”.

That said, it’s an interesting narrative technique, if one has a particular readership, such as upholsterers, in mind. But I don’t.

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