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The Original Fables of La Fontaine Rendered into English Prose by Fredk. Colin Tilney   By: (1621-1695)

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First Page:

TALES FOR CHILDREN FROM MANY LANDS

EDITED BY F.C. TILNEY

[Illustration: The heart of Thyrsis left.]

THE ORIGINAL FABLES OF LA FONTAINE

RENDERED INTO ENGLISH PROSE

BY

FREDK. COLIN TILNEY

WITH COLOURED ILLUSTRATIONS BY THE AUTHOR

LONDON: J.M. DENT & SONS LIMITED NEW YORK: E.P. DUTTON & COMPANY

PREFACE

If deep wisdom, gentle satire, polite cynicism, and, above all, irresistible humour are qualities which make a book attractive then La Fontaine's Fables should be in the hands of all. Their charm is two fold; for whilst they induce pleasurable reflection in the reader they delight him by the gaiety of their subject matter.

Notwithstanding the fact that the spell of La Fontaine's verse necessarily disappears when another tongue is employed, his English translators, both Elizur Wright and Walter Thornbury, have courageously attempted to do him justice in prosody. In this little book no such effort has been made, chiefly for the reason that, for any but the unusually gifted, to snatch at rhythm and rhyme is often to let drop the apt and ready word as Æsop's mastiff dropped his dinner. But there is a further excuse for the present writer. Verse has little attraction for children unless it jingles merrily, and that is a thing as impossible as it is undesirable where the claims of a philosophic original make restrictions. Since the spirit is more likely to survive if the letter is not exacting, it is difficult to see why custom looks askance upon prose versions of poetry. But this little book may escape such censure on the ground of its being but a selection from the complete Fables of La Fontaine. It presents only those of which the great fabulist was himself the originator. A selection of some sort being imperative there seemed to be a simple and easy choice in the condition of absolute originality; particularly as the older fables are given in another volume of this series.

This translation (in which I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of my friend Mrs. A.H. Beddoe) is neither "free" nor literal. It sometimes amplifies a thought, much as a musician might amplify the harmonies upon a master's figured bass. But even this is rarely done, and then only with a view to the youthful reader's pleasure and profit. With that view, further, the social and political introductions to the fables have been omitted, as well as the scientific discourses and the allusions to the unfortunate wars of Louis XIV. and other historical matters, all of which would have neither meaning nor interest but for "grown ups" of a certain class.

F.C. TILNEY.

CONTENTS

PAGE

THE TWO MULES 13

THE HARE AND THE PARTRIDGE 15

THE GARDENER AND HIS LANDLORD 17

THE MAN AND HIS IMAGE 20

THE ANIMALS SICK OF THE PLAGUE 22

THE UNHAPPILY MARRIED MAN 25

THE RAT RETIRED FROM THE WORLD 27

THE MAIDEN 29

THE WISHES 31

THE DAIRY WOMAN AND THE PAIL OF MILK 34

THE PRIEST AND THE CORPSE 36

THE MAN WHO RAN AFTER FORTUNE AND THE MAN WHO WAITED FOR HER IN HIS BED 38

AN ANIMAL IN THE MOON 42

THE FORTUNE TELLERS 44

THE COBBLER AND THE FINANCIER 47

THE POWER OF FABLE 50

THE DOG WHO CARRIED HIS MASTER'S DINNER 52

THYRSIS AND AMARANTH 54

THE RAT AND THE ELEPHANT 56

THE HOROSCOPE 57

JUPITER... Continue reading book >>




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