CAT 2019 - Slot 1 - Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
- In the past, credit for telling the tale of Aladdin has often gone to Antoine

In the past, credit for telling the tale of Aladdin has often gone to Antoine Galland . . . the first European translator of . . . Arabian Nights [which] started as a series of translations of an incomplete manuscript of a medieval Arabic story collection. . . But, though those tales were of medieval origin, Aladdin may be a more recent invention. Scholars have not found a manuscript of the story that predates the version published in 1712 by Galland, who wrote in his diary that he first heard the tale from a Syrian storyteller from Aleppo named Hanna Diyab . . .

Despite the fantastical elements of the story, scholars now think the main character may actually be based on a real person’s real experiences Though Galland never credited Diyab in his published translations of the Arabian Nights stories, Diyab wrote something of his own: a travelogue penned in the mid-18th century. In it, he recalls telling Galland the story of Aladdin [and] describes his own hard-knocks upbringing and the way he marveled at the extravagance of Versailles. The descriptions he uses were very similar to the descriptions of the lavish palace that ended up in Galland’s version of the Aladdin story. [Therefore, author Paulo Lemos] Horta believes that “Aladdin might be the young Arab Maronite from Aleppo, marveling at the jewels and riches of Versailles.” . . .

For 300 years, scholars thought that the rags-to-riches story of Aladdin might have been inspired by the plots of French fairy tales that came out around the same time, or that the story was invented in that 18th century period as a byproduct of French Orientalism, a fascination with stereotypical exotic Middle Eastern luxuries that was prevalent then. The idea that Diyab might have based it on his own life — the experiences of a Middle Eastern man encountering the French, not vice-versa — flips the script. [According to Horta,] “Diyab was ideally placed to embody the overlapping world of East and West, blending the storytelling traditions of his homeland with his youthful observations of the wonder of 18th-century France.” . . .

To the scholars who study the tale, its narrative drama isn’t the only reason storytellers keep finding reason to return to Aladdin. It reflects not only “a history of the French and the Middle East, but also [a story about] Middle Easterners coming to Paris and that speaks to our world today,” as Horta puts it. “The day Diyab told the story of Aladdin to Galland, there were riots due to food shortages during the winter and spring of 1708 to 1709, and Diyab was sensitive to those people in a way that Galland is not. When you read this diary, you see this solidarity among the Arabs who were in Paris at the time. There is little in the writings of Galland that would suggest that he was capable of developing a character like Aladdin with sympathy, but Diyab’s memoir reveals a narrator adept at capturing the distinctive psychology of a young protagonist, as well as recognizing the kinds of injustices and opportunities that can transform the path of any youthful adventurer.”

Q. 1: Which of the following does not contribute to the passage’s claim about the authorship of Aladdin?

1. The story-line of many French fairy tales of the 18th century
2. The depiction of the affluence of Versailles in Diyab’s travelogue
3. The narrative sensibility of Diyab’s travelogue.
4. Galland’s acknowledgment of Diyab in his diary.

1. Antoine Galland is the first European to translate the tale of Aladdin, which he claimed in his diary he heard from Diyab. Scholars however feel that the tale of Aladdin may well be the tale of Diyab himself marveling at the riches of the Versailles. Thus, options 2,3 and 4 contribute to the passage’s claim about the authorship of Aladdin.

Option 1, is mentioned in a different context. The following extract, “For 300 years, scholars thought that the rags-to-riches story of Aladdin might have been inspired by the plots of French fairy tales that came out around the same time, or that the story was invented in that 18th century period as a byproduct of French Orientalism, a fascination with stereotypical exotic Middle Eastern luxuries that was prevalent then. The idea that Diyab might have based it on his own life — the experiences of a Middle Eastern man encountering the French, not vice-versa — flips the script” proves that Diyab may well have written the story and thus nothing is owed to French fairy tales of the 18th century for this work.

Hence, the correct answer is option 1.

 
Q. 2: The author of the passage is most likely to agree with which of the following explanations for the origins of the story of Aladdin?

 

1. Galland derived the story of Aladdin from Diyab’s travelogue in which he recounts his fascination with the wealth of Versailles.
2. Galland received the story of Aladdin from Diyab who, in turn, found it in an incomplete medieval manuscript.
3. Basing it on his own life experiences, Diyab transmitted the story of Aladdin to Galland who included it in Arabian Nights.
4. The story of Aladdin has its origins in an undiscovered, incomplete manuscript of a medieval Arabic collection of stories2

2. Paragraph 1 states that Galland received the story of Aladdin from Diyab while paragraph 3 mentions that modern scholars now think that Diyab based the story of Aladdin on his own life experiences. Option 3 states this assertion and is the correct answer.

Option 1 is incorrect. The author clearly states that Galland heard the story from Diyab and that Diyab never mentioned to Galland that it was his own story.

The story of Aladdin was not found in an incomplete medieval manuscript but was recounted by Diyab to Galland. Eliminate option 2. Option 4 is not stated in the passage as pertinent to the tale of Aladdin. It is relevant to Arabian Nights.

Hence, the correct answer is option 3.

 

Q. 3: Which of the following is the primary reason for why storytellers are still fascinated by the story of Aladdin?

1. The traveller’s experience that inspired the tale of Aladdin resonates even today.
2. The archetype of the rags-to-riches story of Aladdin makes it popular even today
3. The tale of Aladdin documents the history of Europe and Middle East.
4. The story of Aladdin is evidence of the eighteenth century French Orientalist attitude.
 

3. The following extract from paragraph 4, ‘To the scholars who study the tale, its narrative drama isn’t the only reason storytellers keep finding reason to return to Aladdin. It reflects not only “a history of the French and the Middle East, but also [a story about] Middle Easterners coming to Paris and that speaks to our world today,” as Horta puts it’ clearly points to option 1 as the correct answer.

Although the story of Aladdin is a rags-to-riches tale, that is not the reason for the story’s fascination.
Eliminate option 2.

Option 3 is also not true for the storytellers’ fascination for the story of Aladdin. Eliminate option 3.

Option 4 is also not true for the story’s current popularity.

Hence, the correct answer is option 1.

 

Q. 4: All of the following serve as evidence for the character of Aladdin being based on Hanna Diyab EXCEPT:

1. Diyab’s humble origins and class struggles, as recounted in his travelogue 
2. Diyab’s description of the wealth of Versailles in his travelogue
3. Diyab’s cosmopolitanism and cross-cultural experience
4. Diyab’s narration of the original story to Galland
 

4. The story of Aladdin was a rags-to-riches story (refer paragraph 3). This fact validates option 1.

In paragraph 2, the following extract “Diyab wrote something of his own: a travelogue penned in the mid-18th century. In it, he recalls telling Galland the story of Aladdin [and] describes his own hard-knocks upbringing and the way he marveled at the extravagance of Versailles” serves as evidence for the character of Aladdin being based on Hanna Diyab. Therefore, option 2 is also validated.

In paragraph 3, Diyab’s cross cultural experience, similar to that of Aladdin, is also mentioned. This fact validates option 3.

The fact that Diyab narrated the story of Aladdin to Galland does not serve as evidence that the character of Aladdin was based on Diyab himself. Option 4 does not serve as any sort of evidence at all.

Hence, the correct answer is option 4.

 

Q. 5: Which of the following, if true, would invalidate the inversion that the phrase “flips the script” refers to?

1. The French fairy tales of the eighteenth century did not have rags-to-riches plot lines like that of the tale of Aladdin 
2. Diyab’s travelogue described the affluence of the French city of Bordeaux, instead of Versailles.
3. The description of opulence in Hanna Diyab’s and Antoine Galland’s narratives bore no resemblance to each other
4. Galland acknowledged in the published translations of Arabian Nights that he heard the story of Aladdin from Diyab.
 

5.“Flips the script” refers to the assertion made by modern day scholars that the story of Aladdin was that of Diyab himself. Refer to the following extract from paragraph 2, ‘The descriptions he (Diyab) uses were very similar to the descriptions of the lavish palace that ended up in Galland’s version of the Aladdin story. [Therefore, author Paulo Lemos] Horta believes that “Aladdin might be the young Arab Maronite from Aleppo, marveling at the jewels and riches of Versailles.” . . .’ This extract combined with the following extract from paragraph 4, “The idea that Diyab might have based it on his own life — the experiences of a Middle Eastern man encountering the French, not vice-versa — flips the script” that it was not the French encountering the orientals – rather it was the other way around. Had the two stories of Galland and Diyab borne no resemblance to each other scholars would not have guessed that the story of Aladdin was the story of Diyab himself. We have to choose that option that validates this conclusion and only option 3 does it correctly.

Option 1 cannot be validated from the passage.

Option 2 is incorrect. Diyab did describe the opulence of Versailles. It does not answer the question.

Option 4 has nothing to do with “flipping the script.” It is also not true. Galland acknowledged that he heard the story from Diyab only in his diary and not in his published translations.

Hence, the correct answer is option 3.


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