Gaetano the Pheasant: A Hunting Fable
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This big book was apparently first published in Italian, and copyrighted by Ugo Mursia Editore. Rocca died in 1961 at the age of thirty-three shortly after composing this work. The translation is copyrighted 1966. I think I finally gave in and bought the book because it has so often appeared in my web searches for fable books. With 60 pages (and a T of C at the back), the book stretches the dimensions of fable in the strict sense I would like to retain. Maybe it is a fable-like short story or novella. Cecco the gamekeeper cares for some 3000 pheasants in the game preserve at Belmondo. Gaetano has a blue tail and differs from the other pheasants also in that he can think. He experiences the first of many traumatic hunting days. He learns then that, to stay alive, he needs not to fly. Gaetano seizes a moment to exhort his fellow pheasants to take measures against the hunters--like flying low or walking near the beaters or dogs. They discuss his ideas, but those win the day who say that it is pheasants' destiny to be hunted. Two pheasants even institute a betting game with odds on the next pheasant-victims. Gaetano finally leaves with four other pheasants. They seek the sea and/or the land where pheasants can live in peace. After difficult adventures, Gaetano and his lady pheasant Donatella make it to an island. Victory! An epilogue tells us that the island soon was full of blue-tailed pheasants. The art varies. Some of the styles include a collecting or cataloguing style showing and labeling different types of pheasants or dogs on the same page, a primitive cartoon style notable for its big round eyes, and suggestive monochromes. Among the best might be the conversation of the three last pheasants with Pietro the lobster (55).
Harper & Row