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Honey-Bee 1911   By: (1844-1924)

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By Anatole France

A Translation By Mrs. John Lane

Illustrated By Florence Lundborg

John Lane MCMXI




It is an honour, but, also, a great responsibility, to introduce through the dangerous medium of a translation one of the most distinguished writers of our time, and, probably, the greatest living master of style, to a new world the world of childhood. One is conscious that it is as impossible to translate the charm and art of Anatole France as it is to describe in dull, colourless words the exquisite perfume of the rose.

Such as this translation is I offer it with diffidence, realising that I have undertaken a difficult task. And yet I venture to do so for I long to make known to English and American children one of the loveliest and noblest of stories a story overflowing with poetic imagination, wisdom and humour, divine qualities to which the heart of the child is always open as the flower to the dew.

I want young children as well as others, older only by accident of years, but whose hearts are always young which is the eternal youth to know the greatest French writer of his day, when, by the magic of his pen, he, like them, becomes young, gentle and charming. I want them to learn to love his "Honey Bee," newest and sweetest of those darlings of childhood who have come down to us from bygone ages, distant lands and half forgotten races, but who in their eternal charm appeal to all children since children first heard those wonderful stories or pored over treasured books that awaken the ardent young imagination to love, beauty, romance and goodness.

So, too, some day will "Honey Bee" the golden haired princess of the dear, good dwarfs, join her enchanting companions, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Red Riding Hood, The Sleeping Beauty, The Frog Prince, Puss in Boots, Aladdin, and all the others of that immortal galaxy whose glorious destiny it has been to be beloved by childhood. May they welcome "Honey Bee," youngest of all. And so the Master, supreme when he writes for men and women, will find open to him a new world, purer and more beautiful, in the hearts of English and American children.

A. E. L.



Which treats of the appearance of the country and serves as Introduction

The sea covers to day what was once the Duchy of Clarides. No trace of the town or the castle remains. But when it is calm there can be seen, it is said, within the circumference of a mile, huge trunks of trees standing on the bottom of the sea. A spot on the banks, which now serves as a station for the customhouse officers, is still called "The Tailor's Booth," and it is quite probable that this name is in memory of a certain Master Jean who is mentioned in this story. The sea, which encroaches year by year, will soon cover this spot so curiously named.

Such changes are in the nature of things. The mountains sink in the course of ages, and the depths of the seas, on the contrary, rise until their shells and corals are carried to the regions of clouds and ice.

Nothing endures. The face of land and sea is for ever changing. Tradition alone preserves the memory of men and places across the ages and renders real to us what has long ceased to exist. In telling you of Clarides I wish to take you back to times that have long since vanished. Thus I begin:

The Countess of Blanchelande having placed on her golden hair a little black hood embroidered with pearls....

But before proceeding I must beg very serious persons not to read this. It is not written for them. It is not written for grave people who despise trifles and who always require to be instructed. I only venture to offer this to those who like to be entertained, and whose minds are both young and gay. Only those who are amused by innocent pleasures will read this to the end. Of these I beg, should they have little children, that they will tell them about my Honey Bee. I wish this story to please both boys and girls and yet I hardly dare to hope it will... Continue reading book >>

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