Der Bär als Statthalter: Satirische Fabeln aus dem alten Russland
Saltykov, Mikhail Evgrafovich
This book brings together fourteen of Sakltykow-Shchedrin's fables. These are of course longer than traditional fables and are heavily sarcastic of Russian government. I read one again this time and enjoyed it. It is the first of his three bear fables mentioned in the book's title. Major Petz the First is sent into the forest to conquer the inner enemy and his own plan to do so is to shed a great deal of blood, but he makes the mistake of getting drunk first. In his stupor he kills a small finch. Everybody hears about it, and this report destroys his reputation. Other pieces I already know here include The Idealistic Carp, a fundamental debate between two conflicting world-views. The Really Smart Minnow shows what a life without risk looks like, eventually even to the person who has refused risk. The Deceitful Newsmonger and the Credulous Reader spreads its criticism liberally on both sides of the title's relationship. Though the reader ends up an unfortunate victim, the newsmonger still wonders whether the best way to cheat the reader is to tell him the truth or to tell him lies. Each story gets a half-page illustration, several of which are both insightful and engaging.