The Fables of Aesop
. Harvard Common Press . Harvard/Boston
xPA3855.E5L44 1984 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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Here is a second extra copy of this fine paperback book. Reprint of the original 1975 hardbound edition. This is probably my favorite among all the books I have. Levine approaches the fables with real wit. He plays with them. I have to watch out that I do not use too many of his illustrations. Now in 1996 I have done a systematic study of the texts. There are one hundred fables here and fifty illustrations and a frontispiece; there are always two fables on the left page and a full-page illustration for one of them on the right. Patrick and Justina Gregory state clearly in the introduction that they base their English versions on Chambry's Greek. They claim justly to have tried to reproduce in English the precision and spareness of the originals. The translations bear out the correctness of their claim that "the fewer words we could get away with, the truer to the original our versions seemed" (2). They do not include morals and make an excellent case for that decision. In particular, a supplied moral deprives the fable of one of its prime functions, to make the reader think. My study showed that Chambry is indeed the source here. They handle him with a good translator's sense of adaptation and shortening. In fable after fable, I found Daly and Handford literally closer to Chambry's Greek-and the Gregories' version a good, adapted, brief version. They include a very high number of fables neglected elsewhere, so that in many of the files that include a Levine/Gregory entry, there are few others besides-very often only Perry, Daly, Handford, and Jones. The fable they may change the most from its Chambry original is TB (38). FG (12) shows how they enrich a fable and "The Lion, the Ass, and the Fox" (4) how they strategically shorten a good punch line into an even better one ("Who taught you?" "The ass").