Jinn and Other Sprites: Background information when reading The Golem and the Jinni

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The Golem and the Jinni

By Helene Wecker

The Golem and the Jinni
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  • Hardcover: Apr 2013,
    496 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2014,
    512 pages.

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Beyond the Book:
Jinn and Other Sprites

Most Westerners are generally introduced to genies through the story of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (aka The Arabian Nights). In it, Aladdin is tricked into obtaining an old oil lamp in which a jinni has been imprisoned. Through various twists and turns in the story, the jinni is released from his confinement and eventually helps Aladdin obtain his greatest wishes: wealth, fame, and the love of a beautiful princess.

Aladdin's magic lamp The English word for these beings – genie – comes from the French word for spirit: génie (the result of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights being first published in Europe in French.) The Arabic word for jinni comes from janna, which means to conceal or hide, and refers to the hidden nature of jinn. In Arabic "jinni" is singular while "jinn" is the collective noun.

Stories of jinn date from pre-Islamic Arabian folklore and these beings have a deep cultural and religious significance for much of the...

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