The Surprising History of Aladdin

Alyan and the Lamp, a retelling of Aladdin.
Alyan and the Lamp, a Stela original.

The history of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp and The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (“The Arabian Nights”) is almost as interesting as the story itself (what can I say, I’m a history geek). Come with me as we look into why.

It All Began a Millennia Ago….Or Did It?

The earliest reference to One Thousand and One Nights comes from an Arabic manuscript fragment from the early 9th century CE. Scholars agree that most of the earliest tales in the book are most likely Persian and/or Indian in origin. Over the centuries, the book has contained as few as a hundred tales to, as the title suggests, a thousand. Tales have been added and removed with roots coming from Arabic, Greek, Jewish, Turkish, Persian, and Indian folklore. It’s been translated into many languages right up to the present.

So it would seem Aladdin is a very old story. Or is it?

Sacre Bleu!

In 1710, Antoine Galland translated and published Les Mille et Une Nuits which included the most popular tales (at least in the West) Aladdin and the Magic Lamp, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor, and several others for the first time. He claimed to have been given the stories from the Syrian scholar Youhenna Diab. It is also possible he penned the stories himself.

In the scope of the publishing history, Aladdin is a recent addition. Albeit, a great one.

Robin Williams Steals the Show

In 1992, Disney unleashed Aladdin on the world. Catchy tunes and a delightful barrage of ad libbed lines from Robin Williams make Aladdin a great film, but it follows the original story only tangentially. As such, its storyline is far more familiar with the modern world than the original text.

Alyan and the Lamp. It’s About Aladdin….Kinda

If Disney deviated from the original, we’ve almost cut all ties! We have a half Chinese Alyan (nicknamed Al), and a princess (who’s a childhood friend), a magic lamp (ok, that’s the same), a genie (and that), but that’s about where our version stops using the source material.

Our version is less about wish fulfillment than it is about finding your dreams and being true to yourself. Alyan must face a decade old vendetta and reconcile what he feels in his heart. All of this and much more can be read on our app.

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