A Hundred Fables from La Fontaine
La Fontaine, Jean de
Wayne, Philip (translator)
. Anchor Books ; Doubleday & Company Inc., . Garden City, N.Y.
PQ1811.E3 W3 1961 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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Good short introduction. La Fontaine's lighthearted manner is, in a way, a veil to his scope and depth. This poet saw and loved lasting essentials, whether in a bowed woodman or in a rabbit or in death. His intelligence is coupled with gaiety, his irony with compassion. I find Wayne's verse translations faulty, perhaps because I have read too many student papers that find things in the English not there in the French. A careful study of the first four of Wayne's fables finds regular additions, perhaps prompted by the rhythm and rhyme. Thus calling the grasshopper the ant's friend in I,1.17 is dangerous. In I,2.3-4, there is nothing in the French about delicate flair or a fair greeting. In I,3 it takes Wayne's frog twenty-one words to burst as against LaFontaine's ten. In I,5 Wayne's wolf adds a gratuitous and potentially distracting line in the midst of his rejection of the dog's feasts: You have 'em. You grow fatter. T of C at the beginning, and AI at the end.