Kalilah and Dimnah: Fables from the Ancient East.
. Harmony Books . NY
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Here is a second copy of this book. Lively tempera paintings are often nicely suggestive (note the bones on 27) but sometimes miss important details (the lions are not holding the hares on 31). Among the best is that illustrating the proverb He who makes his bed of fire and uses a snake as a cushion will not enjoy a tranquil sleep (36). Another triumph is the two-page spread about burning the talking tree (60-61). This version has the regular stories in the tradition but often adds significant differences. Thus the monkey's tail, not his penis, is pinned in the carpenter's log not by wedges but by nails (13). The raven uses a ring, not a necklace, to get revenge on the snake (29). The second fish's escape is unexplained (35). The camel's offering of himself is not introduced to the king as voluntary (48). The judge is not taken in by the talking tree (63), and the thief does not pay with his life. Kalilah agrees that the lion has been too generous to Shanzibah (24). The lion at first wants Shanzibah simply to move away (38). There is no reference to a feast for the lion's mother (42). Dimnah has second thoughts and even regrets after the killing (74). He is finally convicted and starved to death after Kalilah has died depressed (79). This edition has a predilection for lists, e.g., of the things that wise men try to do or of the things that hurt the state. I do not find the stories told as well as Ramsay Wood tells them, but the art is very helpful to someone learning these stories.