The Ocean of Story: Fairy Tales from India
. Lothrop, Lee & Shephard Books . NY ,
PZ8.N367 Og 1996 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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Philip sees two great folktale traditions in India, classical and popular. The former, in Sanskrit, includes the Jatakas, the Panchatantra, Katha Sarit Sagara (The Ocean of the Streams of Story), and the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. The popular tradition consists of the tales which old women recite to children in the evening. For Philip the two traditions are the same, since all the stories of India seem to flow into one another. And so he borrows the particular title to refer to this selection from the whole. There are eighteen stories here, most illustrated with at least one lively full-page colored illustration and many also with an endpiece. At least seven of them qualify as fables: SW (20), The King and his Daughters (22), A Likely Story! (32), The Thirsty Fool (62), The Mouse-Girl (77), The Brahman, the Tiger, and the Six Judges (78), and The Tiger and the Cat (97). A helpful feature of the book is the T of C's sub-title for each story (9-10); these are not to be taken for granted! They often suggest a good perspective on or question about the story not found on the story's own pages. Notice that the bookshop' has the same name, A Likely Story, as one of the best tales in the book. If you are in a contest or bet challenging the other to doubt your story, tell him one about his father's unpaid debt to you! The Thirsty Fool has a main character who finally arrives at a river but just looks at it, asking How could I drink all this? I think that the total of six judges approached by the Brahman (78) sets a record. The last of the stories is the fine one about the teacher who hides one trick from his pupil so that the teacher can escape the well-taught pupil after all the lessons are finished! There is a comment on each story's sources at the end of the book.