Fables from the Jewish Tradition
. Mayapple Press . Bay City, MI
xPJ5059.E8F327 2008 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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Here is a second copy of this book. This is a paperback book of 104 pages offering forty numbered fables, each with a lively colored illustration and a paragraph of comment--all in a two-page spread. One strong feature of the book is the brevity of each fable. Most of the fables last just a few lines. Many come from the Aesopic tradition. The Aesopic fable about the wolf and the fox, for example, starts here with the fox tricking the wolf into the place where the Jews live on Sabbath eve (30). It includes Ezekiel 18:2 about fathers eating sour grapes and the children's teeth being set on edge. I find these fables often not hitting their issues as directly as good fables usually do. They seem often just a bit off. In some cases, the miss seems to coincide with an intent to align the fable with a scripture passage. The author claims a common theme, for example, between a good story about a mulberry thief's stained hands, used as a parallel to the story of Cain's blood-stained hands, and the Aesopic fable in which a man uses a mulberry tree as an excuse for his having blood-stained hands. I do not think that there is a common theme here. The Aesopic fable about the fox entering an oak (or a granary) lean and needing to come out again lean is told rather of a fox entering a vineyard and is referred to coming into life naked and needing to leave the same way (32-33). The Aesopic theme is, I think, quite different from the Jewish. The art focuses particularly on the characters' or animals' eyes. A typical illustration might be that of the dancing crow on 59. At the book's end there are some seventeen pages on fables, midrash, and Talmud. I had to find a second copy of this book online because the first I found was lacking pages 19-22. This copy is integral.