Twelve Fables of Aesop
narrated by Glenway Wescott
illustrated by Antonio Frasconi
This is a gorgeous book with a series of really excellent woodcuts. I got it as a Christmas present and I love it. Gorgeous.
On the other hand, the text is kind of… um… odd? I remember Aesop’s fables in a sort of vague way from when I was much younger. They were short, yeah, but they tended to make sense. There were characters who did things and learned lessons, right? These versions, on the other hand, seem really pretty random. They’re actually oddly post-modern in their randomness.
This makes them hard to review. So in preparation for trying to review the book, I listened to The Dead Author’s Podcast (reviewed earlier by Anna) with guest Aesop.
It’s hard to tell how accurate/historical the podcast really is, but it’s certainly clear that I am not alone in thinking that some of these fables are really incomprehensible. And short.
So I loved this book for the art but I kind of suggest that you check it out for the stories for the bemusement factor as well. It’s also really short. Twelve stories, none of them longer than two pages.
So to sum up: Beautiful but peculiar.
Yes, Dad used to read me Aesop’s Fables before bed, and my memory of them is a bit more cohesive than some of these. I think you should post here in the comments one of the shorter, more random ones.
For your delectation, I give you one of the most random of the fables:
The Bee-keeper Robbed and Stung:
A bee-keeper went visiting in the autumn, and upon his return found that a thief or thieves had carried away all the honeycomb. The provoked, impoverished bees swarmed around him. “Fools, fools!” he shouted, as he beat them off. “You look the other way while some stranger helps himself to your winter provisions. Then you sting your old friend who is prepared to feed you sugar until next spring. I’ve half a mind to go out of business.”
Hahaha! Moral: Bees don’t do a good job of being witness to crimes? I swear these Aesop’s fables are less the moral stories I remember and more like Alanis Morissette’s ‘irony’ (i.e. just things that suck).