Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Reading Diary A: Aesop's Fables (Jacobs)

Here were my favorite stories from Aesop's Fables (Jacobs and Crane).


Lions, Part 1. I really liked the The Lion and the Statue about the lion and the man debating, where the lion says that if lions could make statues as men do, then there would be plenty of statues of lions defeating men! SO TRUE (and not just about lions and men). History is written by the people who have the means to write!
"If a Lion, you know,
Had been sculptor, he'd show
Lion rampant, and Man on the ground."


Lions, Part 2:  The Lion in Love. What a weird story! Why would a lion fall in love with a woman? What would the woman think about that? Strangely enough, we do not get any idea of her feelings from the story here. Wild! I also really liked the illustration because it shows us that Cupid was somehow involved as far as the artist is concerned. It would be fun to write a version of this story where Cupid really is a character. And just look at the sad way the lion is staring back at the woman. So intense!



Foxes, Part 2. My favorite story is the one about The Fox without a Tail trying to persuade the other foxes to follow this foolish fashion: the fox as trickster, one of my favorite storytelling themes. Of course, as often happens, the trickster fails here; thank goodness, a wise fox saw through the trickster's evil plan!


Wolves. My favorite fable here is the story of The Dog and the Wolf. That is an Aesop's fable that is very near and dear to my heart; I have chosen the path of the wolf over that of the dog many times in my life, and with no regrets.


Dogs and Cats. Oh wow, there is a shape-shifting story here: The Cat and Venus! I love stories about people magically turning into things or here, vice versa, where some divine magic turns an animal into a person. This reminds me of the Pygmalion story where Venus turned a statue into a woman based on a man's request. Of course, we are never told how that marriage turns out. This marriage between a cat and a man did not turn out so well, ha ha.


Mice. I love the story of the mouse who foolishly wants to get married to the lion's daughter: The Married Mouse. The pairing up of those stories shows how you cannot take anything for granted in the world of Aesop: even a mouse who can be good-hearted and loyal (freeing the lion) can still be a complete idiot (expecting he could marry the lion's daughter).
"But it chanced that she put
On her husband her foot,
And the weight was too much so he died."


Deer. My favorite story is The Horse, The Hunter, and The Stag about the horse who makes a bargain with the man in order to defeat the stag, a bargain the horse later regrets. This is another fable on the theme of freedom and the high value of personal freedom; I guess that is one of my favorite themes in Aesop's fables, one that resonates with me personally.

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