The Danish Aesop: 59 of the old animal fables
. Hans Reitzel . Copenhagen
Language note: English
PZ8.2.A254 Br 1961 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
Language note: English
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This book has become a favorite of mine. A note before the fables traces the fascinating history of this collection. Some of the fables first appeared in a private edition by Hjorth's Printing-House in 1943 for distribution as Christmas presents. In 1944, all the fables were printed by the same firm for Gyldendal and its title was made into The Little Aesop, thought to be a less provocative title during the occupation by Nazi forces. The book did not appear, however, until after the liberation in 1945, though a number of copies had been distributed privately with a duplicate T of C that emphasized the topical application of the fables. Thus OF (#1) was titled Great Germany and The Lion, the Ass, and the Fox (#59) was titled The Fate of the Informer. The fifty-nine fables are told with wit and care. The artwork, which usually adds one color to black, is delightful. OF (#1) has a frog who thinks that if only his skin was not wrinkled, he would be as big as the ox. There are no children involved in this telling. Fable #2 on the ox and ass is particularly--and unusually--well told. This version turns it into a tit-for-tat story. The ox who has been told that the plowing work he shares with an ass is not hard because he is used to it gives the same answer back to the ass when the latter asks who will carry the master home after work. BW (#14) involves a repeated cry that wolves are coming and a fact that plural wolves do come. Fable #15 on the war of the birds and beasts gives a good example of the book's excellent silhouette art. In the following fable, the whole dead ass is piled onto the back of the unhelpful horse. LS (#29) has a wonderful illustration of a bloody stag divided into four equal parts! The following fable's illustration shows graphically with its separated human limbs what would happen to the man if a lion created the sculpture! The telling of #31 on the hostage sheepdogs is particularly good for this sometimes difficult fable. Zieler does a creative job of making faces out of the rivers and the sea for #40. In fable #51 the mule kicks the wolf in the forehead while the latter is trying to read what kind of horse his father was; this version explicitly speaks of this racial problem, and it may take this unusual turn precisely to address the racial interests of the Nazis. There is a pair of typos in the fourth line of #53. This version has the horse as usual take on a human master, but he does not even overcome his enemy the stag. In #57 the ass asks as usual whether the enemies will burden him more than his present masters; the unusual part here is that the cargo is human. The ass thus asks if he will have two saddles put upon him. The black-and-white illustration catches this humorous twist well. There are no titles but except those given in the T of C at the end. The outer spine is cracking.