365 Successful Fables: The Mice and the Cat
365 Successful Fables: The Mice and the Cat. Paperbound. Taiwan: 365 Successful Fables: You Fu Culture Co. Ltd. $10 from Jeremy Weiss, Sleepy Hollow, NY, through eBay, Sept., '12. FW 2. The first four tracks of each disc present the stories a paragraph at a time with alternating Chinese and English. The next four use only Mandarin. Tracks 9 through 12 present the four stories in English. Track 13 is a vocabulary and pronunciation exercise. The speakers tend to exaggerate throughout. There are plentiful sound effects along with a generous musical background.
The four fables presented and illustrated in this volume are: "The Mice and the Cat"; "The Parasol and the Travellers"; "The Bird Learning to Neigh"; and "The Frogs and the God." Belling the Cat has a curious moral: "Everybody's business is nobody's business" (4). The issue here is that they are all afraid and that thus no one would do it. The second fable marks the first time that I have seen a tree referred to as a parasol tree. I see that "Chinese parasol tree" is in Merriam Webster. "The Bird Learning to Neigh" is new to me but follows a regular fable theme, well summed up in the moral here: "Don't bite off more than you can chew" (12). The bird can imitate lots of birds but hurts his throat and loses his voice trying to learn to neigh like a horse which he admires. Aesop has the crow trying to be as white as the swan and so leaving the altars where he ate leftover sacrifices and instead swimming in the swan's lakes and rivers. He wastes away. The final fable is The Frogs Wanting a King, with a monster as the second king. "An inch given, a mile taken" (16). The visual artist offers a good frightening monster!