das buch der weißhait der alten weisen
. Mauritius Verlag . Berlin
Language note: German
Language note: German
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Here is a better copy of a book already in the collection since 1995, found at the Frankfurter Bücherstube in Frankfurt. This copy has a cleaner cover and stronger binding. It costs exactly as many euros as that book cost Deutsche Marks. I will include comments from that copy. Here is a 9" x 12" canvas-bound book with boards from perhaps the 20's. It is a treasure! The fables and beautiful woodcuts here are taken from the 1483 Ulm edition of "Buch der Beispiele der alten Weisen." Anton von Pforr there translated into German these famous and widely circulated Indian fables from the Panchatantra. The present collection takes only animal fables and preserves as much as is possible of the medieval language. Two stories were seriously shortened: "Dymna und Kellila" and "Die Raben und die Aren." (Is that "The Ravens and the Owls"?) The latter is of course a great story of Sinon-like betrayal. This edition starts with a "Vorred" on the history of the stories and their purposes. By my count, there are fifteen fables here, with a total of twenty-five illustrations. Every story is illustrated with at least one illustration. What we are used to as "The Lion and the Hare" here uses a fox instead of the hare; it still has the same gambit of bringing the lion to a well. Elephants and jackals are very curiously pictured here! New to me is "Der kranke Aff," a story of one ape who brings another, sick ape to a dragon's lair on a pretext of getting him healed; once the sick ape is consumed by the dragon, the devious ape takes over his home. Also new is "die Linsen," the story of an ape who comes down from his tree and steals beans but has to let them go one by one as he climbs back up his tree. "Die listige Vogel" is begun within the story of the crow avenging the snake beneath his home, but there is no return then to the main story! Also new to me is "wider den Tod is kein Kraut." It tells the story of a man who lives through many dangers only to have a wall fall upon him while he is healing! Another new story pictures a cat but speaks strangely of "ein Tier, das war gleich einem Hund, der die Mäus nicht mag"). The biggest mouse makes an offer of peace to this cat which answers nobly that it cannot accept against its owner's interest. The cat offers three days for the mouse to find a new place to live. When the mouse is not bothered on the first and second days, it presumes that it can go on living as before. On the third day, it is captured and eaten. The work is unpaginated.