The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade

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"The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade" is a short-story by American author Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849). It was published in the February 1845 issue of Godey's Lady's Book and was intended as a partly humorous sequel to the celebrated collection of Middle Eastern tales One Thousand and One Nights.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

The tale depicts the eighth and final voyage of Sinbad the Sailor, along with the various mysteries Sinbad and his crew encounter; the anomalies are then described as footnotes to the story. While the King is uncertain — except in the case of the elephants carrying the world on the back of the turtle — that these mysteries are real, they are actual modern events that occurred in various places during, or before, Poe's lifetime. The story ends with the king in such disgust at the outlandish tales Scheherazade has just woven, that he has her executed the next day.

Wonders and anomalies described
  • Coralite ("an island, many hundreds of miles in circumference ... built in the middle of the sea by a colony of little things like caterpillars")
  • Maelzel's Chess Player ("a man out of brass and wood, and leather ... with such ingenuity that he would have beaten at chess, all the race of mankind")
  • Antlion pits ("myriads of monstrous animals with horns resembling scythes upon their heads ... dig for themselves vast caverns in the soil, of a funnel shape")
  • Mammoth Cave ("a cave that ran to the distance of thirty or forty miles within the bowels of the earth ... far more spacious and more magnificent palaces ... there flowed immense rivers as black as ebony, and swarming with fish that had no eyes")
  • Babbage's calculating machine ("constructed ... a creature ... so great were its reasoning powers that, in a second, it performed calculations of ... the united labor of fifty thousand fleshy men for a year")
  • Hot air balloon ("This terrible fowl had no head that we could perceive, but was fashioned entirely of belly, which was of a prodigious fatness and roundness, of a soft-looking substance, smooth, shining and striped with various colors. ... in the interior of which we distinctly saw human beings ... and then let fall upon our heads a heavy sack which proved to be filled with sand!'")


  1. ^ Sova, Dawn B. (2001). Edgar Allan Poe A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work (Paperback ed.). New York: Checkmark Books, pg 237. ISBN 978-0-8160-4161-9.

External links[edit]