The Fables of La Fontaine
. Floris Books . Edinburgh
xOvr. PQ1811.E3M66 2006 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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This is an extra copy of this book. Here is a serious La Fontaine edition of selected fables comprising some 112 fables on 218 pages. Moore's introduction offers more than introductions usually do about both La Fontaine and this translation. La Fontaine produced terse verse, notedly elegant, compressed, and wittily didactic. Moore looks seriously at the translations of Elizur Wright in 1841 and Walter Thornbury around 1868. He finds both tending to be very literary and thus inappropriate for today, especially as they follow their own meter and verse forms. Curiously, Moore does not mention Marianne Moore's 1954 translation or the recent spate of translations including James Michie (1979), Norman Spector (1988), or Norman Shapiro (1985, 1998, and 2000). In fact, Shapiro has now done a complete La Fontaine that appeared one year after this present volume of Moore's. The intent of this volume is to offer a La Fontaine as simple as possible for a readership unacquainted with the seventeenth-century background. While a number of selections of fables have been translated in recent years, many in limited editions, I am not aware of any other single volume in modern English, with colour illustrations, on the scale of the present book for a general market, and hope this will prove a new opportunity for children and adults alike to become familiar with these delightful works… (17). FC (32) is, I would say, a good specimen of success, as is 2P on 38. The illustration for TT (53) is particularly good. Less happy might be the first lines of TH: Running is not the way to win a race./He wins who starts from the best place. La Fontaine's point is rather that starting is the important thing: il faut partir a point. The illustrations seem to me enjoyable but not inspired; facing illustrations often give a before and after from the same fable. The best of the illustrations are specific, like the two for The Oyster and the Claimants (114-115); unfortunately, a number of illustrations are generic, like the background for The Boy and the Schoolmaster (118-119). Similar backgrounds are repeated, e.g. 136-7, 146-7, 172-3, and 196-7. There is a T of C at the front and an AI at the back.