The Fables of La Fontaine
Gibbs, J. W. M
La Fontaine, Jean de
. Kessinger Publishing . [Whitefish, Mont.]
PQ1811.E3 W6 2004 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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This volume is symptomatic of where book publishing is going these days. This 7½ x 9¼ paperback book of 432 pages reproduces the texts of Wright's edition of 1881 in good, accessible form. It does so without a single illustration and in a style that looks as though it has come straight off the computer. I was lucky to find this copy for a very reasonable price on the web, since it normally sells for almost six times that price. Before I mention some of the characteristics of the 1881 edition that is reproduced here, let me mention a few characteristics of this 2004 edition. (I could not find a date in this book, so I went to Amazon.com and found the 2004 publishing date.) One curiosity of this editon is that it has two T of C's at the beginning. Why? The first looks more like the final printer's table. The second looks like a web-produced table that the printer worked from. Contrast the formatting in the two. Both have the strange anomaly that footnote numbers are placed not only in the text but also in brackets just after the title of the fable. The preface in this 1881 edition traces the history of Wright's translation. After six quick editions in Boston (1841-3) and one small-type edition in London at the same time, there had been nothing till this edition in 1881. In fact, there had been only one other translator of the complete LaFontaine's fables into English during that time (Thornbury), and the preface finds that translation inferior to Wright's. This edition embodies the corrections but not the expurgations of the sixth edition (see my 1843 copy); in fact the preface presents the five fables that Wright, under some duress, substituted for the expurgated LaFontaine fables in that sixth edition. The preface continues with a nice account of Wright's life. For some reason, Page 9 gives a date of 1882. It mentions both notes and J.W.M. Gibbs, but does not make clear if they are his notes.