Sittenlehre für die Jugend in den auserlesensten aesopischen Fabeln: Nachwort zur Faksimileausgabe

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This 28-page booklet accompanies a facsimile of the German 1757 translation of Samuel Richardson's 1749 London edition, Aesop's Fables, with Instructive Morals and Reflections, Abstracted from all Party Considerations, Adapted to All Capacities; and Designed to Promote Religion, Morality, and Universal Benevolence. The facsimile reproduction was also done by Insel Verlag in 1977. Höhle's remarks on Richardson and Lessing are helpful. Apparently Lessing's first fables in 1753 were mostly poetic fables after the manner of La Fontaine, and apparently that is the way the predominant German tradition had gone, in fabulists like Hagedorn and Gellert. Richardson took a different path, and Lessing came to take a similarly different path. Höhle describes Richardson's fable book as defending virtue and fighting vice. Writing in the DDR in 1977, Höhle also sees Richardson as a middle-class critic of aristocracy, the profit-motive, and the hard-heartedness of the bourgeoisie. He was fighting for the simple people. Richardson's fables in contrast with those of LaFontaine were consciously short and undecorated. The morals show the same sobriety. (Richardson gives himself much more room to expand in the Reflections, which may constitute his greatest contribution to the genre.) Höhle emphasizes the surprisingly political nature of Richardson's reflections; for him, the influence of La Fontaine and the following tradition had avoided overt political critique. Höhle also indicates, by the way, that the German edition's illustrations are better conceived and executed than those in the English original. The illustrations do not interpret; they represent the situation. In so doing, the illustrations often tell more than the fables. For Höhle, Lessing was an exact translator, making only rare changes in the texts he was translating. If he changes anything, it is to sharpen the point of social critique and to remove religious thought. A major result of Lessing's translation lies in his own fable book two years later, including some ninety fables, five articles on fables, and a foreword. Höhle includes excellent examples finally of Lessing's transformation of Richardson's texts.
Insel Verlag
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