The Fables of Kalilah and Dimnah: Adapted and translated from the Sanskrit through the Pahlavi into Arabic by Abdullah ibn al-Muqaffa AD 750
Translated from the Arabic by Saleh Saadeh Jallad
. Melisende . London
PN989.I5B4 2004 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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I already had this book in the catalogue under its original copyright date of 2002. The copyright has been renewed in 2004. This copy is also inscribed by the author on its title page. The only other change I can notice in the book is that the back of the dust-jacket is now not blank but rather includes a set of testimonies, one from my old colleague at Holy Cross, John Esposito. As I wrote of the 2002 book, one finds here seventeen chapters on 247 pages preceded by four important elements that are part of the story itself: "The Introduction to the Book," "Dabshalim the King and Baydaba [Bidpai] the Philosopher," "The Mission of Barzawayh the Physician to India," and "Barzawayh." Three of these have a number of fables within them. The first chapter is then the traditional "The Fable of the Lion and the Bull." There is an opening T of C, with mention of each of the fables in each chapter. The illustrations for each book and selected stories, in black and white and gray with Islamic script, are rather primitive. The illustrations for "The Monkey and the Carpenter" (82) and "The Drake and the Crab" (92) certainly get the fables' situations wrong. The book actually starts with a translator's foreword that begins from Arabic culture and Islamic faith and their contributions to the world. In this setting, the life of ibn al-Muqaffa is presented. K&D was long the second most popular book in Islam, after the Quran. Ibn's Arabic has survived; the Sanskrit and Pahlavi have not. The work stresses classic themes but highlights the positive role of the scholar in government and society. Some of the individual fables in the work are probably Ibn's creations. This is the fullest version I have seen of K&D. It includes al-Muqaffa's introduction, including the key statement: "The book thus infuses wisdom with amusement." The chapters include stories I have not read before, including several that La Fontaine picked up. It was worth studying this book in some detail.