The Book of Good Counsels from the Sanskrit of the Hitopadesa

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Authors
Arnold, Edwin
Browne, Gordon
Issue Date
1984
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Book, Whole
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Here is a modern Indian reprint of a book I have as it was published by W.H. Allen in London in 1896, also with illustrations by Gordon Brown. Let me repeat some comments I made on that book. This seems to be a good standard telling of the Hitopadesa. The opening T of C lists individual fables. A list of illustrations follows immediately on xv; the pictures are named after their stories rather than the characters pictured. In this version the merchant brings his wife on the second evening of the month of arranged assignations (52); it takes him only one viewing to be greedy to get the gifts that the king gave the woman of the first evening. The crow and the rat walk to the tortoise's pond. At the beginning of the second chapter, Lusty-Life the bull breaks a foreleg. In the story of the monkey and wedge, his tail and lower parts dangle down between the pieces of wood (59). The scene is well pictured in the facing insert. Lusty-Life is put in charge of provisions when the jackals are discovered to be consuming and disposing of more than their share of the kill. This second chapter ends with the killing of the bull. What happens to the jackals is not addressed. In this version, the wheelwright duped by his wife, hidden in his wife's chamber, hears her praise of him and rushes out of hiding to ask her lover if he has ever seen a truer wife than this (97)! In the third chapter, War, the swan (Silversides) has as his main minister a goose, and the inciting incident is that a crane from his kingdom happens to fly in peacock territory. This crane is sent back as a spy, and a paddy-bird, a form of crane, is commissioned to fortify the fortress. The peacock has a vulture for a minister, a cock for a general, and a parrot for an ambassador. A crow also shows up as a guest at the swan's court. The parrot commands obeisance or withdrawal from Camphor-island. King Swan refuses. The peacock advances rashly against the swan-people, contrary to the vulture's advice. The crane and his fellows wreak havoc on the peacock's realm. The crows are indeed traitors and burn the besieged citadel of the swan-king. The paddy-bird defends the king in the last hour and helps him escape but dies himself. The peacock captures the fortress. In the fourth book, the swan king first ascertains whose treason had cost him the loss of his fort, namely that of the crows. The two kings end up creating a good peace. The inserted verses are done in rhyme. The twenty illustrations here include seven full-page inserts. One of the more dramatic of these--the lion's killing of the bull in front of the jackals--appears here as indicated in the list of illustrations, namely as a frontispiece. In the earlier edition it was listed as frontispiece but offered at 55. The other illustrations are integrated with print on text-pages. A strong example shows the crane with the crab in his mouth (124). This edition does a nice job with the names of individual animals and towns. There are notes at the back.
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Asian Educational Services
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