. John Murray . London
PA3855.E5 J36 1848h (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
MetadataShow full item record
I get nervous just having this book in my hand! At last a first edition of Tenniel! It is a joy to see crisp renditions of illustrations I have seen copied or redone in blurred reprints. Among my favorites here: WC (3), The Stag in the Ox Stall (53), The Thief and His Mother (106), The Dog Invited to Supper (121), The Birds, the Beasts, and the Bat (133), The Ass and His Driver (143), DLS (167), The Miser (203), and MSA (217-221). The Stag in the Ox Stall illustration at last makes sense of a fable I had trouble imagining from its text alone. List of illustrations on xxi-xxv. AI at the back of the book. The curious slip-cover matched to the book's cover proclaims First Edition. As to the texts, James in his introduction traces the tradition broadly and expresses the hope that he is restoring in a more genuine form than has yet been attempted the body of Aesop's fables, at least as they were known in the best times of Greek literature. The wearisome and otherwise objectionable paraphrases of the ordinary versions had banished the genuine Aesop from the hands of the present generation. The recent discovery of Babrius encourages James in this effort to get back to the Greek texts and collate and sift the various ancient versions. His general rule is to give a free translation from the oldest source to which the Fable could be traced or from its best later form in the dead languages. But there are exceptions. Even the English tradition gets into the process: a few adopt the turn given by L'Estrange, or speak almost in the very words of Croxall or Dodsley. (Note, e.g., that James #145, The Bald Knight, is verbatim identical with Croxall's #47 with the same title.) This method of translation would be wholly without excuse, if applied to a genuine classic. Greater liberty has been taken with the morals than with the narratives. English fabulists have generally smothered the fable under their own commentary. A few fables are marked as modern in the index: The Boy and the Nettle, MM, The Hedge and the Vineyard, BC, and MSA. I appreciate finding that list now because I had struggled to find the two of these with longer titles in Perry and could not. James offers 203 fables and so includes many not found elsewhere. Generally because of his program the versions are quite standard. Several are very well executed, including FWT (James #68) and MSA (#203). There is the curious reverse moral for The Cock and the Jewel (James #13), The Cock was a sensible Cock: but there are many silly people who despise what is precious.... James likes double morals. On this careful 1996 rereading, I find a few fables told in surprising fashion. The mischievous dog carries not a bell but a clog around his neck (James #88). Strangely, a lion and a goat are fighting to the death over drinking rights at a fountain in James #126; I believe an editor misread boar and printed goat. Lion and goat are not well matched opponents in the fable world! In his #62, the sheep dismiss the dogs at the wolves' request; they are usually handed over and destroyed. In the course of this analysis, I discovered how dependent V.S. Vernon Jones was on James' versions.