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Sometimes a character in Scheherazade's tale will begin telling other characters a story of his own, and that story may have another one told within it, resulting in a richly layered narrative texture.
The different versions have different individually detailed endings (in some Scheherazade asks for a pardon, in some the king sees their children and decides not to execute his wife, in some other things happen that make the king distracted) but they all end with the king giving his wife a pardon and sparing her life.
Most scholars agreed that the Nights was a composite work and that the earliest tales in it came from India and Persia.
At some time, probably in the early 8th century, these tales were translated into Arabic under the title Alf Layla, or 'The Thousand Nights'.
The Jataka Tales are a collection of 547 Buddhist stories, which are for the most part moral stories with an ethical purpose.
While in many cases a story is cut off with the hero in danger of losing his life or another kind of deep trouble, in some parts of the full text Scheherazade stops her narration in the middle of an exposition of abstract philosophical principles or complex points of Islamic philosophy, and in one case during a detailed description of human anatomy according to Galen—and in all these cases turns out to be justified in her belief that the king's curiosity about the sequel would buy her another day of life.
In particular, many tales were originally folk stories from the Abbasid era, while others, especially the frame story, are most probably drawn from the Pahlavi Persian work Hezār Afsān (Persian: What is common throughout all the editions of the Nights is the initial frame story of the ruler Shahryār and his wife Scheherazade and the framing device incorporated throughout the tales themselves.
The stories proceed from this original tale; some are framed within other tales, while others begin and end of their own accord.
The history of the Nights is extremely complex and modern scholars have made many attempts to untangle the story of how the collection as it currently exists came about.
Robert Irwin summarises their findings: "In the 1880s and 1890s a lot of work was done on the Nights by Zotenberg and others, in the course of which a consensus view of the history of the text emerged.
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He is shocked to learn that his brother's wife is unfaithful; discovering that his own wife's infidelity has been even more flagrant, he has her killed.