In despair at having no son to succeed him, the King of Turkey leaves his palace to live in seclusion. Soon after, however, he encounters four wandering dervishes - three princes and a rich merchant from Persia, Yemen and China - who have been guided to Turkey by a supernatural force that prophesied their meeting. The five men sit together in the dead of night, each in turn telling the tale of lost love that led him to renounce the world. As their stories within stories unfold, a magnificent world is revealed of courtly intrigue and romance, fairies and djinn, oriental gardens and lavish feasts, adventures and mishaps. A Tale of Four Dervishes (1803) is an exquisite example of Urdu fiction that provides a fascinating glimpse into the customs, beliefs and people of the time.
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