Jean de La Fontaine: Les Plus Belles Fables

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Authors
La Fontaine, Jean de
Issue Date
2010
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Book, Whole
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This is the latest in a long line of pretty illustrated French editions of fables for children. Contemporary technology and artistic ability combine for pictures that are colorful and exact. It all starts with a cover that offers a beautiful rendition of FS painted onto its soft cushion. Forty fables receive one-to-three fine illustrations each. Some are more childlike in their approach, like TH (9-11), which offers humanly clad figures. One of my favorites is The Stag and the Pool (20-21); this illustration spreads beautifully across two pages. In The Lion Become Old (40-41), the ass is climbing onto the lion's body to deliver his insulting blow. AD has a whimsical illustration in which the ant is riding like a horseback rider on the dove (45). In a curious surprise, the book's illustration of FS (55) dresses the animals who had no human dress in the same scene on the book's cover! Does the illustration on 71 belong to the preceding fable, The Lion and the Mosquito, or to the present fable, The Spider and the Swallow? Another favorite of mine shows the weasel and rabbit pleading all sorts of logic before the bespectacled cat (88). Little do they realize that they are both about to get eaten! Let me mention two last favorites. A two-page spread suggests the maliciousness of the frog in FM as he is about to plunge the rat into the water (114-15); the final page shows the scene from above as the hawk carries both away. My impression is that Salembier has borrowed heavily from French illustration history and used other people's framing of scenes as she has created her own realization within that framing.
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Éditions Hemma
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