The Thousand and One Nights was secular literature, historically not approved by the cultured literary class as literature at all. It existed as a popular entertainment and much of it expresses the desires, wishes and experiences of a middle to lower class urban and mercantile people.1 It evolved, arguably as a response or reaction to a rigid social and spiritual structure, and satisfies a need similar to that which generates carnival and carnivalesque inversions in popular cultures.2 However, all of this is what it was, once. What it is now is infinitely more complex because it was reborn into an alien environment in 1704111163, an environment in which its signs were received in a radically different way from their accepted meanings in their culture of birth. Not only were most referents unknown but the signs themselves took on a reference unique to them, a reference to a general system of imaginative perception in which one of the essential components was mystery and a sense of being cut loose from meaning.