The Fables of Aesop
. Quality Paperback Book Club . NY ,
PA3855.E5 1995a (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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This is a curious little treasure. It starts with a nostalgic cover of a fox looking up at a crow, a rooster strutting among hens, and a deer looking at his reflection in the water. But what is a mouse doing under another cheese-holding crow? This edition has the curious feature of an index of morals (139), a good source for proverbial sayings attached to fables. The edition in my collection with which to compare this reproduction is my 1867/74 Aesop's Fables. In fact, some of the illustrations in this QPBC edition can help one to read better the details of illustrations in that edition, like artist's signatures on the engravings. The QPBC engravings unfortunately vary, some of them being too dark. The illustrations here are somewhat larger than those there--and than those in the original 1848 Tenniel edition. Of these three editions, 1848 (Tenniel) and 1867/74 (Tenniel and Wolf) both had 203 fables, while this edition has 182. The Blackamoor (#181 in the 1867/74 edition) seems to be one of those dropped. This edition follows the order of the 1867/74 edition quite closely. I did some careful study of the authorship of the illustrations here, with the help of Percy Muir's Victorian Illustrated Books (111), to which Jon Lindseth made reference. The fact that this was the first book in which Tenniel signed illustrations with his particular mark makes it easier to find those illustrations which he himself reworked from his supposedly inferior 1848 edition. They include: The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf (29), TB (33), Hercules and the Waggoner (46), The Man and the Lion (54), The Herdsman and the Lost Bull (59, highly praised by Muir), The Old Man and Death (93), The Ass Carying the Image (106), 2W (189), The Charger and the Ass (125, praised by Muir as one of Tenniel's best), The Wolf and the Shepherds (129), and Venus and the Cat (133). Most of these are clearly improvements over Tenniel's earlier efforts. For me, Wolf's renditions of The Lion, the Bear, and the Fox (97), The Birds, the Beasts, and the Bat (85), and DLS (108) lack the excellence of Tenniel's shaded dimensionality, and so represent a step down from the 1848 edition. Who redid some others is unclear, like The Old Woman and the Jar of Wine (24). I wish I knew who did this illustration, because I like it! This edition gives mirror images of several of the 1867/74 illustrations, including the cat as a bag (68), MM (70), and The Boy Bathing (132). I do not recognize this text of the fables.