And the moral of the story is…

February 12, 2008

Willis Regier plumbs the depths of Aesop’s translations.

A few years ago, I needed to cite an English translation of an Aesop fable. Obedient to lessons learned in graduate school, I looked for the best. That turned out to be a winding road with distracting detours.


Aesop’s fables have been so frequently published that it is widely
assumed that in Europe only the Bible has more editions. I assumed that
was mere assumption and wondered what the evidence showed. Working
through bibliographies, the British Library Integrated Catalogue, the
WorldCat database, the English Short Title Catalogue, and booksellers’
catalogs, I constructed a history of Aesop in English from 1484 to
2007. I limited my list to printed books and editions that claim to be
translations, bypassing the numerous “retold” fables and the swarm of
little books that contain only a small number of fables.

No Children’s Tale –


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