The Complete Fables of La Fontaine: A New Translation in Verse: Advance Proofs

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Authors
Hill, Craig
La Fontaine, Jean de
Issue Date
2008
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Book, Whole
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Here is a paperback advance copy of a book I have already reviewed in its hardbound version. This copy has only of Sorel's illustrations, FK. It introduces Book 1. There is also here no list of illustrations on xv. Let me include some comments I made on the hardbound copy. It is unusual to find a complete La Fontaine. The list in English includes, I believe, only Thomson, Wright, Thornbury, Moore, Spector, and Schapiro. This translation is curious because it took the author some fifty years to complete. As a young poet he found Marianne Moore's translations oddly wrong and wanted to do better. The story of his fits and starts (xvii-xviii) is engaging. The result seems heavy on longer lines: hexameters and pentameters. Hill answers in his translator's note that he wanted La Fontaine to 'sound' French, after all, not English (xix). The Bird Wounded by an Arrow (32) seems to me particularly successful. For me, the longer the lines, the less successful they become. The last of these three lines from FC is an example, for me, of a less than good line: Learn now that every flatterer/Lives at the cost of those who give him credit./That lesson's worth a cheese no doubt, so don't forget it! To me, Cette leçon vaut bien un fromage, sans doute is simpler and more direct. For the fox and the bust, we have, I think, a more successful moral: How many a current idol comes to mind/Who is a bust of this same kind (90). Might bust here have two meanings? Again, Hill gives us a great start to TH: To hurry isn't enough: one must depart on time. (133). In general, I find Hill at his best in shorter fables and when he uses shorter lines.
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Arcade Publishing
Distributed by Hachette Book Group
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