Fables of La Fontaine Illustrated
Fables of La Fontaine Illustrated
Christofides & Christofides
University of Washington Press, Seattle/London
University of Washington Press Spring/Summer 2006 New Titles
« In 1855 the French caricaturist Honoré Daumier and six other artists proposed to illustrate anew the fables of the revered French poet and fabulist Jean de La Fontaine (1621- 95), and what a book it would have been! Their project was never realized- until now. Prompted by Daumier’s intention, artist Koren Christofides has brought together more than sixty artists from across the United States, Europe and Asia to create an original artwork for Fables of La Fontaine. These illustrations – by painters, printmakers, photographers, ceramists, sculptors, conceptual artists, fiber artists and art historians – celebrate an extraordinary intersection of contemporary art with the fabulist tradition.
Constantine Christofides and Christopher Carsten have translated sixty five of La Fontaine’s fables … but also a trove of lesser known satiric fables … translated here with sophisticated gusto and an elegance worthy of La Fontaine’s enduring genius.
A cogent introduction by Constantine Christofides describes the volatile social context of seventeenth century France as well as the literary tradition, stemming from Aesop, that underlines La Fontaine’s fables. Koren Christofides, the project’s initiator and director, gives a curator’s account in her preface… »
« …A common refrain from the French audience was: ‘But we thought we knew the fables of La Fontaine!’ The rarity of these choices of the artists derives from the fact that most of them didn’t know these fables either.»
« Through fables such as «The Animals Sick from the Plague » or « The Wolf and the Hunter, » one realizes that the fables were never just « little animal stories written for the young.» That the ‘morals’ of the stories often raise more questions than they answer supports the notion that ‘one has to have lived for a while to fully appreciate the genius of La Fontaine.’ This was another comment from the French audience.»
Le Monde des Livres (September 8, 2006), Florence Noiville, Le Monde book reviewer.
«When you consider the small number of book translations in the United States, the University of Washington Press in Seattle is to be admired for publishing an illustrated selection of 65 Fables by La Fontaine. Imagine the hurdle of the translators in rendering the flavor of 17th-century French.»
«Initially, the idea for the book came from artist Koren Christofides. The translations were undertaken by Constantine Christofides, emeritus professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Washington, and specialist in the French 17th century and Christopher Carsten, translator and poet. Christofides opted for prose translation, ‘poetic prose’, that is a faithful echo of the original.»
Journal of Folklore Research (May 10, 2007) Marie-Thérèse Oubrier-Austin, University of Exeter, UK
«The Christofides project is one of the latest in a long line of illustration, and one of the most original.»
«The artwork does not take precedence over the accompanying text translation, which is equally enjoyable and is of interest in its own right.»
«The text is the work of two translators, Constantine Christofides and Christopher Carsten. The input by Christofides is quantitatively the more important and also the more daring of the two. Carsten’s stylish poetic concision achieves nuance and depth. Both succeed in conveying La Fontaine’s message. And as the eye moves from illustration to the text, and back to the illustration, it makes for an enhanced experience and for an enriched understanding of the fables.»
Seattle Times/Post –Intelligencer (August 6, 2006) Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times book critic
«Almost every child from a bookish background once ran into French author Jean de La Fontaine, whose lively tales about misbehaving animals – «The Grasshopper and the Ant» among them – had tidy moral lesson to impart. But was that the ‘real’ La Fontaine?»
«In this newly translated selection of work by the 17th-century French author Jean de La Fontaine, the two Christofides – with some help from poet-translator Christopher Carsten – offer a ‘rediscovery of forgotten tales’.»
Certificate of Excellence for book design and images Bookbuilders West, San Francisco, 36th Annual Book Show