Friday, 19 September 2008

Aesop: The Complete Fables

Title: The Complete Fables

Author: Aesop

Number of pages: 262

Started: 29 July 2008

Finished: 19 September 2008

Opening words:

The things brought by ill fortune, taking advantage of the feebleness of those brought by good fortune, pursued them closely. They went up to heaven and there asked Zeus to tell them how they should behave with regard to men. Zeus told them that they should present themselves to men not all together but only one at a time. And that is why the bad things, living near to men, assail them constantly, while the good things, who have to come down from the sky, only arrive at long intervals.

Thus we see how good fortune never reaches us quickly, while bad fortune strikes us every day.

Plot summary:

A translation of the complete Aesopian corpus of fables. The introduction pays particular attention to the transmission of fable "stock" from sanscrit to Aesop. It also attends to the precise nature of the animals themselves who appear in these fables, and tries to rescue the fables both from a tradition of moralistic interpretation and from the academic perception of the genre as an exclusively populist one.

Summary taken from Amazon

What I thought:

I quite enjoyed reading these Fables and a number of them have clearly influenced some of the things we say today (such as the expressions about “sour grapes”). I did think that some of the explanations for the fables were a bit tenuous but they were also quite thought provoking at times and it was an interesting read. It’s a different kind of read to normal as well with many of the fables only being a few lines long, which meant that if I wasn’t fully concentrating I was probably onto the next fable before I knew it. Aesop clearly had a big influence on literature and story-telling and these are an easy read, so I would definitely recommend giving it a go.

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