Selected Fables by La Fontaine
La Fontaine, Jean de
I am surprised that I had not heard earlier of this publication. I note that Maureen Charlton died in Dublin in 2007. A second surprise is the price of this book. One reason for its expense is Charlton's signature. Are there other reasons? I have seldom seen society divided as clearly as Charlton divides it in her introduction. Louis XIV is the lion. The most prominent courtiers are the fox and the wolf. The bourgeoisie is represented by cats and dogs, ants and weasels, a hard-working, thrifty and unimaginative lot. The peasants -- the goats, the lambs and donkeys of the fables -- are nature's eternal victims attacked, mocked and often sacrificed (iii). The twenty fables offered here are grouped in five sections of four fables each: Mockery and Trickery; The Trickster Tricked; Freedom; Human Nature; and Power. There are eight full-page colored illustrations by Knuttel: FC; The Wolf and the Goat'; FS; BF; TMCM; The Swallow and the Little Birds; CW; and OR. FS (8) does a good job of showing the stork's contortions to get at the fox's offering, while the tricky fox looks the viewer right in the eye. The jay of BF (11) ends up looking quite weird. CW (24) has the man enveloping the cat in his arms, who looks like she uses mascara. A quick reading of several of the fables suggests that Charlton abbreviated them, sometimes leaving out elements that some of us might find important. This copy has been in a musty place for some time.
Duke Press: A Martello Publication