An Essay on Fable
. William Andrews Clark Memorial Library . Los Angeles
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Here is a second copy of this pamphlet. A well researched introduction finds Dodsley's essay, attached to his edition of fables, the first comprehensive, original study of the genre in English. The essay itself surprises me with its sense and taste. Fable for Dodsley causes the reader to collect the moral. It is better not to express the moral; Aesop never did. If it is expressed, it is better put before the story, to put the reader on the scent. A fable must be clear, unified, and natural; the final criterion has Dodsley criticizing many popular fables. Apologues give beasts thought and speech but should not change their characteristics otherwise; foxes should not want grapes, and geese should not lay golden eggs. The style should be familiar, like LaFontaine's, not indelicate and low, like L'Estrange's.