365 Successful Fables: The Fox and the Food
365 Successful Fables: The Fox and the Food. Paperbound. Taiwan: 365 Successful Fables: You Fu Culture Co. Ltd. $10 from Jeremy Weiss, Sleepy Hollow, NY, through eBay, Sept., '12. FW 9. 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 Fisherman and the Fish"; "The Fox and The Food"; "The Snobbish Monk"; and "The Wolf and the Lion." Surprisingly, the story after which the booklet is named comes second, not first. This version of "The Fisherman and the Fish" offers an explanation for the usually non-motivated expectation of the fisherman that fish would respond to his flute-playing. When he played, friends and neighbors came together to enjoy his music. He expected that fish would do the same. The moral for this version is "There is no free lunch in the world." "The Fox and The Food" starts with this unfortunate sentence: "A fix didn't found anything to eat after a long day" (5). This fox soon found a hole curiously placed "beside a tree" and crawled into it. Where did this hole lead? Usually in the fable it leads into a tree, where a shepherd has stored his lunch. The third story is not well told but is nonetheless a fine fable. A poor man visits a temple and is snubbed by a monk. While he is there, a rich man comes and the monk fawns all over him. Accosted then by the poor man for showing favor to the rich, the monk lies, saying that he inwardly respects the poor man. The latter hits him on the head with his cane saying "Good. And now I hit you because I respect you, too" (12)! "As you make your bed, so you must lie on it." The wolf in the fourth fable is impressed by the length of his own shadow and challenges the lion, who beats him soundly. "Empty vessels make the most sound" (16). The best illustration in this volume may be that of the monk winking while fawning on the rich man (10-11).