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The Fables of La Fontaine by Jean de la Fontaine

The Fables of La Fontaine by Jean de la Fontaine



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Project Gutenberg's The Fables of La Fontaine, by Jean de La Fontaine#27 in our series by Jean de La FontaineCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check thecopyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributingthis or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this ProjectGutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do not change or edit theheader without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about theeBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights and restrictions inhow the file may be used. You can also find out about how to make adonation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****Title: The Fables of La FontaineA New Edition, With NotesAuthor: Jean de La FontaineRelease Date: January, 2005 [EBook #7241][Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule][This file was first posted on March 30, 2003]Edition: 10Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-Latin-1*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE FABLES OF LA FONTAINE ***Produced by Thomas Berger, Eric Eldred, Charles Franksand the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.THE FABLES OF LA FONTAINE_Translated From The French_By Elizur Wright.
_A New Edition, With Notes_By J. W. M. Gibbs.1882* * * * *PREFACETo The Present Edition,With Some Account Of The Translator.The first edition of this translation of La Fontaine's Fables appearedin Boston, U.S., in 1841. It achieved a considerable success, and sixeditions were printed in three years. Since then it has been allowed topass out of print, except in the shape of a small-type edition producedin London immediately after the first publication in Boston, and thepresent publishers have thought that a reprint in a readable yet popularform would be generally acceptable.The translator has remarked, in the "Advertisement" to his originaledition (which follows these pages), on the singular neglect of LaFontaine by English translators up to the time of his own work. Fortyyears have elapsed since those remarks were penned, yet translations intoEnglish of the _complete_ Fables of the chief among modern fabulistsare almost as few in number as they were then. Mr. George Ticknor (theauthor of the "History of Spanish Literature," &c.), in praising Mr.Wright's translation when it first appeared, said La Fontaine's was "abook till now untranslated;" and since Mr. Wright so happily accomplishedhis self-imposed task, there has been but one other complete translation,viz., that of the late Mr. Walter Thornbury. This latter, however, seemsto have been undertaken chiefly with a view to supplying the necessaryaccompaniment to the English issue of M. Dor's well-known designs for
the Fables (first published as illustrations to a Paris edition), andexisting as it does only in the large quarto form given to thoseillustrations, it cannot make any claim to be a handy-volume edition. Mr.Wright's translation, however, still holds its place as the best Englishversion, and the present reprint, besides having undergone carefulrevision, embodies the corrections (but not the expurgations) of thesixth edition, which differed from those preceding it. The notes too,have, for the most part, been added by the reviser.Some account of the translator, who is still one of the living notablesof his nation, may not be out of place here. Elizur Wright, junior, isthe son of Elizur Wright, who published some papers in mathematics, butwas principally engaged in agricultural pursuits at Canaan, LitchfieldCo., Connecticut, U.S. The younger Elizur Wright was born at Canaan in1804. He graduated at Yale College in 1826, and afterwards taught in aschool at Groton. In 1829, he became Professor of Mathematics in HudsonCollege, from which post he went to New York in 1833, on being appointedsecretary to the American Anti-Slavery Society. In 1838 he removed to theliterary centre of the United States, Boston, where he edited severalpapers successively, and where he published his "La Fontaine;" whichthus, whilst, it still remains his most considerable work, was also oneof his earliest. How he was led to undertake it, he has himself narrated
in the advertisement to his first edition. But previously to 1841, thedate of the first publication of the complete "Fables," he tried theeffect of a partial publication. In 1839 he published, anonymously, alittle 12mo volume, "La Fontaine; A Present for the Young." This, asappears from the title, was a book for children, and though the substanceof these few (and simpler) fables may be traced in the later and completeedition, the latter shows a considerable improvement upon the work of his"'prentice hand." The complete work was published, as we have said, in1841. It appeared in an expensive and sumptuous form, and was adornedwith the French artist Grandville's illustrations--which had firstappeared only two years previously in the Paris edition of La Fontaine'sFables, published by Fournier Ain. The book was well received both in
America and England, and four other editions were speedily called for.The sixth edition, published in 1843, was a slightly expurgated one,designed for schools. The expurgation, however, almost wholly consistedof the omission bodily of five of the fables, whose places were, as Mr.Wright stated in his preface, filled by six original fables of his own.From his "Notice" affixed to this sixth edition, it seems evident that heby no means relished the task, usually a hateful one, of expurgating hisauthor. Having, however, been urged to the task by "criticisms bothfriendly and unfriendly" (as he says) he did it; and did it wisely,because sparingly. But in his prefatory words he in a measure protests.He says:--"In this age, distinguished for almost everything more thansincerity, there are some people who would seem too delicate and refinedto read their Bibles." And he concludes with the appeal,--"But theunsophisticated lovers of _nature_, who have not had the opportunityto acquaint themselves with the French language, I have no doubt willthank me for interpreting to them these honest and truthful fictions ofthe frank old JEAN, and will beg me to proceed no farther in the workof expurgation." The first of the substituted fables of the sixthedition--_The Fly and the Game_, given below--may also be viewed asa protest to the same purpose. As a specimen of Mr. Wright's powers atonce as an original poet and an original fabulist, we here print (for thefirst time in England, we believe) the substituted fables of his sixthedition. We may add, that they appeared in lieu of the following fivefables as given in Mr. Wright's complete edition--and in the presentedition:--_The Bitch and her Friend, The Mountain in Labour, The YoungWidow, The Women and the Secret_, and, _The Husband, the Wife, andthe Thief_. It should also be borne in mind that these original fableswere inserted in an edition professedly meant for schools rather than forthe general public.* * * * *THE FLY AND THE GAME.A knight of powder-horn and shotOnce fill'd his bag--as I would not,Unless the feelings of my breastBy poverty were sorely press'd--With birds and squirrels for the spitsOf certain gormandizing cits.With merry heart the fellow wentDirect to Mr. Centpercent,Who loved, as well was understood,Whatever game was nice and good.This gentleman, with knowing air,Survey'd the dainty lot with care,

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