Summer 1994 • Vol. XVI No. 3 Nonfiction |

Changeling Sorrows

Can calm despair and wild unrest Be tenants of a single breast or Sorrow such a changeling be? TENNYSON, In Memoriam July 1992 At bedtime, reading Jonathan "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" as rain thrums onto the roof, I'm struck by the comic elements of the tale. Scheherazade's initial ruse was sly, of course, but this story is closer to farce, with all its lies and disguises (cunning plans, as Baldrick in Blackadder would call them), its feigned (or is it real?) anxiety at feigned illness. Death itself turns out to be a kind of deception. Baba Mustapha, the tailor, sews together the quarters of Cassim's body, which has been recovered from the cave where the thieves had hung it up as a grisly--no, four grisly warnings. Only when these segments are united can the corpse be dressed for burial--that is, decked out respectably enough to be recognizably dead, and then duly mourned. The why of this disguise quickly fades from the memory--something to do with inheritance, pro

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Morose Confusion

By Rachel Hadas

Can calm despair and wild unrest Be tenants of a single breast or Sorrow such a changeling be? TENNYSON, In Memoriam July 1992 At bedtime, reading Jonathan "Ali Baba and […]

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