Thursday, 19 December 2013


Two posts ago, I did forget to list one of the Sandman stories that is a story told by a character within the story. The last page of "Ramadan" in Fables And Reflections reveals that the story of the Golden Age of Baghdad has been told to the crippled boy Hassan by a story teller amidst the ruins and rubble of the bomb-sites of modern Baghdad.

The story begins:

"In the name of Allah,
"the compassionate,
"the all-merciful,
"I tell my tale.
"For there is no god but Allah,
"and Mohammed is his prophet." (p. 227)

The last page informs us that Allah has been invoked neither by the author nor by an invisible narrator but by a story teller who ends his narration for the day because Hassan has no more coins or cigarettes to pay him with. Hassan asks, "How could the city last?" but then goes home " child's short-cuts..." with, behind his eyes, "...towers and jewels and djinn, carpets and rings and wild afreets, kings and princes and cities of brass..." (p. 258). That is how the city lasts.

Gaiman's fictional premise was: if the wondrous city of Baghdad really did exist exactly as described in the legends, then what happened to it and where is it now? Knowing that all things pass, Haroun asked Morpheus to make his city last and the only way to do this was to remove it from the world of fact into the realm of dreams and stories. Haroun sleeps on a no-longer-flying carpet in the market place and wakes to a mundane Baghdad. His forgotten original city now exists in a bottle in a trunk in the Dreaming, in the story teller's tales and in Hassan's head.

Having summoned Morpheus, Haroun asks him:

"Are you, then, the lord of sleep, the prince of stories, he to whom Allah has given dominion over that which is not, and was not, and shall never be?" (p. 245)

A Muslim must express it like this and Morpheus does not take issue with his theology but they also say that "...there is no god but Allah..." and we have seen many.

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