The Fables of Pilpay
. Printed for Baldwin Cradock, and Joy, . London
PN989.I5 B4 1818 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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I have another copy of this fine little book from Archives Book Shop in East Lansing, MI. The condition of both books and their divergent spine designs and interior marbling have led me to make this copy a separate and independent entry. I have been enjoying attempts to fix the place in the English tradition of this work. What I have discovered is that it is the same text as the fifth edition from 1775 reproduced by Darf in 1987. It is also the same text used later by Hurd and Houghton in 1872. Its illustrations also form the basis for the illustrations in the latter edition. Bodemann lists the 1775 edition as #126.3. The original in this series goes back to 1747 (Bodemann #126.1); unillustrated, the text seems first to have appeared in 1699. Unfortunately, Bodemann does not list this 1818 edition. In keeping with this tradition, there is a double T of C, general and by fable. The book follows a rhythm of one illustration per fable. I find the illustrations small but engaging. One of the liveliest of the small illustrations might be the burning of the witness-tree on 147. Chapter I is completely about Dabschelim's trip to Bidpai. Dabschelim is an entirely good king. Bidpai is a hermit to whom Dabschelim travels, even though the king's advisers counsel against the trip. I am surprised to see The Travelling Pigeon as the first fable (19) and The Greedy and Ambitious Cat (31) soon after that. Chapter II is on avoiding the insinuations and backbiting of flatterers. It begins at some length with a rich merchant father instructing his dissolute three sons on acquiring wealth, keeping it, and using it well. The eldest of the three is the merchant, whose ox Cohotorbe is left behind. Kalila (female) and Damna (male) are foxes married to each other. The fox substitutes for the jackal throughout. Damna here starts out at least as an upright though ambitious character. He handles beginning negotiations for getting the lion and bull to meet without pushing himself forward. But when Cohotorbe becomes the lion's closest friend, jealousy takes over in Damna (80). Kalila turns against Damna, after Cohotorbe's death, for having endangered the king (146). Chapter III follows up: That the Wicked Come to an Ill End. The king's malaise, the leopard's overhearing of Damna and Kalila, and the lion-mother's intervention all help to bring Damna to trial. Damna argues eloquently that he is innocent, using good fables dexterously in his defense. Finally they get direct testimony from the leopard and the bear to convict Damna, and he is walled up inside four walls to starve as a traitor. Chapter IV is on friends. In this version, a goat rather than a fawn joins the group already consisting of tortoise, raven, and rat. Chapter V is on distrusting enemies; its basic story pits the ravens against the owls. Carchenas is able to subvert the latter from within and see to their eventual defeat by burning their fortress. Many fables throughout the work are differently told from what I am used to. There are also many fables new to me, e.g., II 18: The Hunter, the Fox, and the Leopard. The Hurd edition, by the way, drops what is here listed as II 8, The Dervise that left his Habitation. That changes the numbering of all the further fables in Chapter II. Dramatic moments, like the battle of the lion and bull (146), are rendered very quickly--too quickly, I would say. I took the occasion of cataloguing these books to read through the full version. I had recently read a number of Panchatantra and Hitopadesa versions and collected Indian stories in a number of formats. This reading helped me to enjoy those same stories now put into a meaningful sequence.