"Christopher Betts's new versions [of the Fables] provide a fine introduction. He translates into easy and pleasing rhyme. Betts is a respectful translator, avoiding jarring anachronisms and preserving the good humour and wit of the original. You feel you are in the hands of someone who understands La Fontaine and finds him congenial. The volume itself, illustrated with engravings by Gustave Doré, is beautifully produced and a pleasure to read." The Times Literary Supplement
Selected Fablesby Jean de La Fontaine
Jean De La Fontaine, Selected Fables From time immemorial, storytellers have delighted listeners with tales of talking animals whose activities mirror the everyday vices and virtues of humanity. In the West, the tradition effectively began with a series of succinct and delightful morality tales in fable form attributed to a Greek slave known as Aesop. /i>
Jean De La Fontaine, Selected Fables From time immemorial, storytellers have delighted listeners with tales of talking animals whose activities mirror the everyday vices and virtues of humanity. In the West, the tradition effectively began with a series of succinct and delightful morality tales in fable form attributed to a Greek slave known as Aesop. These were further refined by the 17th- century French author Jean De La Fontaine into a collection of mastery, La Fontaine's Fables created a sensation at the time of their publication; over 300 years later, they continue to rank among the greatest masterpieces of French literature.
Seventeenth-century poet La Fontaine (1621–95) wrote nearly 240 fables in verse, which were published in 12 books from 1668 to 1693. While many of these legends were based on Aesop's fables, other sources include the Panchatantra, an ancient Indian text, as well as writings by Giovanni Verdizotti and Plutarch. Betts (retired, Univ. of Warwick), whose previously published translations include works by French writers Charles Perrault and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, here collects roughly half of La Fontaine's tales, ranging from early works such as "The Fox and the Crow" and "The Hare and the Tortoise" to later ones including "Women and Secrets" and "The Forest and the Woodcutter." Betts's translation does an excellent job of conveying the lightness and grace of the original pieces. Even those overly familiar with many of these myths will find it difficult not to be charmed by how well these verses flow, with few exceptions. Also included is a concise introduction and 23 wonderful engravings by Doré originally published in a 19th-century French edition. VERDICT This excellent new translation should appeal to most students of literature and anyone with an interest in fables.—William Walsh, Georgia State Univ. Libs., Atlanta
Meet the Author
Jean de La Fontaine (1621-95) followed a career as a poet after early training for the law and the Church. He came under the wing of Louis XIV's Finance Minister, Nicolas Fouquet, and later enjoyed the patronage of the Duchess of Orléans and Mme de La Sablière. His Fables were widely admired, and he was already regarded in his lifetime as one of the greatest poets of his age.
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