99 fables by william march

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Authors
March, William
Issue Date
1960
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Book, Whole
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This book represents a genuine surprise. After I have read so many books that promise fables but offer something else, here are real fables! William Edward March Campbell apparently worked over this collection for years and had it refused once by one of the publishers of his other works. Except for a very few that mention Aesop (#1, #97, and #98) and one that deliberately redoes his work (#30), the fables are original. Is it wrong to take #1 and #97 as programmatic? The former concludes the fable is, and always had been, the platitude's natural frame (2) and the latter has the Delphians killing Aesop in Going's words not because of the warming of the oracle and not because his wit was too sharp and biting, but because he told fables--nothing but fables--and he was boring (xviii). Going places March apart from Ade and Thurber, for his style is purposefully flat and folk-like, and totally apart from the allusive, decorative manner of La Fontaine and Gay. He places him rather with Bierce, for his fables are sharp and ironic (xvi-xvii). I find them tending overall more than I would want toward a scolding tone. But there is also a rich variety of humor, as when the escaped elephant admits that he has been too thin-skinned for life among humans (5). Typical and insightful is The Peacock and His Bride, where the central character admits that what the two have in common is that we both love me to distraction (74). Let me list some other fables worth a special look: #29, 52, 53, 56, 57, 64, 71, 77, 84, and 88. Brough's work is often strong, e.g., on xxiv and 58.
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University of Alabama Press
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