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Selected Fables

Selected Fables - Jean de La Fontaine, Christopher Betts Jean de la Fontaine is a must-read for anyone interested in folktales and fables throughout history.

The 17th-century poet took various tales from Aesop, Greek myth, and various other sources and set them to verse. Here, they appear in English translation. While the presentation of the stories and their social commentary is witty; I didn't find the 'poetry' of the language to be that engaging - the rhyme could be distracting, and the phrasing was often clunky. I don't know if this has to do with the original or the translation; I suspect a combination of both.

For French poems in translation; I tend to prefer a side-by-side presentation - even if one understands little of the original language, one can read to get an idea of the sound and rhythm of the original. However, I'm sure the originals are available freely online, for those motivated to look them up.

The selected fables presented here (apparently, the book includes about half of de la Fontaine's fabulist output) are prefaced by a very nice academic essay on the author, which really helps place the writing in context. There are also liberal endnotes mentioning the source (if known), and references found in each fable. I might've preferred if the notes relating to each story were found adjacent to the relevant section, but overall, this was fine.

A recommended volume.

I received a copy of this title through NetGalley. Thanks to NetGalley and Oxford University Press.