Start reading KALILA AND DIMNA, Vol. 1 on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here or start reading now with a free Kindle Reading App.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device


Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

KALILA AND DIMNA, Vol. 1: - Fables of Friendship and Betrayal from the Panchatantra, Jatakas, Bidpai, Kalila and Dimnah and Lights of Canopus

KALILA AND DIMNA, Vol. 1: - Fables of Friendship and Betrayal from the Panchatantra, Jatakas, Bidpai, Kalila and Dimnah and Lights of Canopus [Kindle Edition]

Ramsay Wood , Margaret Kilrenny , Doris Lessing [Nobel Literature Laureate 200 , Doris Lessing [Nobel Literature Laureate 2007]
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
Kindle Price: £3.08 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
You Save: £6.91 (69%)
* Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT.

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £3.08  
Hardcover --  
Paperback £9.99  
Kindle Daily Deal
Kindle Daily Deal: Up to 70% off
Each day we unveil a new book deal at a specially discounted price--for that day only. Learn more about the Kindle Daily Deal or sign up for the Kindle Daily Deal Newsletter to receive free e-mail notifications about each day's deal.

Product Description


'Kalila and Dimna is the greatest present of the Islamic heritage ... Wood's superb stories should be set alongside Italo Calvino's retelling of the folktales of Italy. No higher praise is necessary.' --Carlos Fuentes

'Ramsay Wood follows his originals closely, and slips with skill in and out of stories as closely interfolded as the petals of a rose.' --Ursula le Guin

'Racy, funny, vigorous, contemporary - I defy anyone not to finish it in one sitting.' --Doris Lessing

Product Description

•Kalila and Dimna• or •The Panchatantra• (also known in Europe since 1483 as •The Fables of Bidpai•) is a multi-layered, inter-connected and variable arrangement of animal stories, with one story leading into another, sometimes three or four deep. These arrangements have contributed to world literature for over 2000 years, migrating across ancient cultures in a multitude of written and oral formats. All our beast fables from Aesop and the Buddhist •Jataka Tales• through La Fontaine to Uncle Remus owe this strange, shape-shifting 'book' a huge debt.

In its original Arabic format, •Kalila and Dimna• (•The Panchatantra• being its Sanskrit precursor), ostensibly constitutes a handbook for rulers, a so-called 'Mirror for Princes' illustrating indirectly, through a cascade of teaching stories and verse, how to (and how not to!) run the kingdom of your life. In their slyly profound grasp of human nature at its best (and worst!) these animal fables, usually avoiding any moralistic human criticism, serve up digestible sage counsel for us all.

Based on his collation of scholarly translations from key Sanskrit, Syriac, Arabic and Persian texts, as well as the 1570 English rendition by Sir Thomas North, this is the first uncompromisingly modern re-telling in either the East or West for over 400 years. In Ramsay Wood's version the profound meanings behind these ancient fables shine forth as he captures a great world classic, making it fresh, relevant, fascinating and hugely readable.

His first volume of fables from •Kalila and Dimna• coves deceit, political skullduggery, murder, enemies, kings, dervishes, monkeys, lions, jackals, turtles, crows and how we all cooperate (or not!), live and die together in peace or conflict. This is a book full of outrageously behaved animals and humans doing the most delightfully awful (yet sometimes gentle) things to each other. These are joyous, sad, amusing and sometimes brutal stories; their function being to educate both king and commoner alike in the ways of the world, the harsh realities that can often lurk beneath the surface of our cozy, everyday subjectivity.

These charming and humorous stories about people and animals have found their way in one form or another into the folklore of every major culture and tradition. What links the fables is the core message about managing power, wise leadership and the value of true friendship.

In his re-writing of this world classic, Ramsay Wood deftly knits several oral story-telling traditions into captivating modern literary style. This version from all major ancient texts is the first new compendium in English since 1570. These beautifully illustrated tales will be treasured by young and old alike.

'Racy, funny, vigorous, contemporary.' DORIS LESSING

'Wood's superb stories should be set aside Italo Calvino's retelling of the folktales of Italy.' CARLOS FUENTES

'Stories as closely interfolded as the petals of a rose.' URSULA LE GUIN

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1012 KB
  • Print Length: 308 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0863566618
  • Publisher: Zirac Press; 5 edition (20 May 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002AQTGM0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #336,665 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new, old classic 21 Jun 2008
The remarkable pedigree of this collection of fables goes back more than two thousand years and, as Doris Lessing's illuminating introduction points out, its offspring can be traced in literary artefacts from the Far East to the Far West.
However, this new version of Kalila and Dimna is delicious enough even without the extra seasoning of historical curiosity.
Ramsay Wood has restored and polished these venerable stories for a contemporary readership with verve, color, pace and truly zany humour while preserving the spellbinding story-within-story framework. Read it yourself - or aloud to children. I did and we all loved it. We learn that this represents only a portion of the original. Next, please?
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tales within tales 6 Aug 2008
I hugely enjoyed reading this book. It is a fascinating and entertaining compilation of stories which have been handed down over two thousand years. The animal kingdom provides a host of characters who relate colourful tales within which other tales emerge, within which more tales are told. The stories can be read on many levels: my granddaughter enjoys them on a simplistic level, but they also contain many a message about human foibles, strengths and weaknesses. Ramsay Wood writes in a style which is contemporary, but which still resonates with the ancient history of these fables.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars marvellous and thought provoking 14 Feb 2006
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I came across Kalila and Dimna in a second hand bookshop and was so entranced by Ramsay Wood's translation of these ancient Indian tales that I wanted to buy it as a present but found the UK edition is out of print. I was very pleased to find this US edtiion on Amazon. So if you've got a birthday coming up you'll be in for a treat.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent retelling 23 Feb 2014
I don't usually like or read myths/legends/fables but this was so readable one forgets the characters are animals - it's like reading about so many different psychological truths and foibles.

Introduction excellent - but read at end to put stories in context.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In a league of its own 17 Jun 2013
By Lydia
Some might think that animal fables are an archaic form of moral instruction, given our access to more modern representations via animated motion pictures like Ratatouille and Brother Bear. Such movies provide both children and adults with a code for so-called ethical living in a way that is visually and aurally entertaining, swallowed easily with little heed or attention.

Yet, Ramsay Wood's Kalila and Dimna - Fables of Friendship and Betrayal is different. His robust treatment of an ancient heritage of Eastern material is little known in the West. Here is a fast-gallop version of the Panchatantra (originally in Sanskrit) and its many variations (Kalila and Dimna are the Arabic and Persian titles) since the time of the Buddha. And so, despite a potential mass leaning towards screen over page, this book achieves the hat trick of being accessible to people of all ages, it challenges the assumptions about literature and its precursor - the oral tradition - whilst also being fun to read.

Formed of animal fables that endlessly snowball into each other, the experience becomes a huge game of `When I Went To The Supermarket,' as the reader tries to figure out how they arrived at the current fable, whilst simultaneously trying to remember those that came before it. Yet beyond games and storytelling, Wood connects the past to the present by offering a more modern slice of language and tone. He adds phrases like, "I'll teach you to cuckold me, you little hussy!" and, "I'm going to get that bastard whatever it costs" - to a text that is reckoned to be, in its original Sanskrit form, older than the Bible.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fables taken to a new level 5 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I thought Kalila and Dimna was very well written and the fables were entertaining, yet rich in knowledge and abstract policy advising. However, the most fascinating feature of the book was in my opinion how the author narrates stories within stories. One fable takes you into another story, and sometimes that story takes you even deeper into another fable, until they are all told and the reader is drawn back into the original tale.

Wood's use of this very interesting literal tool keeps the reader in suspense throughout the book. I cannot wait to read volume 2.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Ramsay Wood has done a remarkable thing in bringing a complicated story within a story within a story forward and recasting it in language that we can understand, and enjoy, in today's world. The first of his series, this can be a fast read, or something to savour over time. It is highly recommended, especially for those with an interest in the Middle East/Central Asia, ruling philosophy, or fables in the style of the better-known 1001 (Arabian) Nights.

For the second book in the series see:
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jackal and hide 25 Oct 2011
By Sporus
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It all begins with a vision. But not the vision (following on the sight of a large shooting star) dreamed by Kind Dabschelim that leads him to the treasure and last testament of Houschenk, King of the Past; rather it is the vision of Houschenk himself, who foresees that Dabschelim will gaol the philosopher Doctor Bidpai who alone has the courage to relate a series of animal tales to his king that - properly understood - will restore Dabschelim's reign to true greatness.
To be more precise, Bidpai's tale is only one tale - that of two jackals, Kalila and Dimna, and specifically the latter's schemes to gain royal favour in the lion king's court. The ultimate intricacy being (if you can still follow this) that Kalila, Dimna and the other court animals tell illustrative animal stories to each other - in some of which tales the animal characters pause to tell animal stories of their own.
Anyone who has read 'The 1001 Nights' will be familiar with this kind of 'Russian Doll narrative', which is so beloved of Islamic literature. But while the latter (seminal and fabulous as it is) feels at times like an overwrought compendium, 'Kalila and Dimna' is a much sleeker, focused assemblage of fables.
The book's history stretches back across time and numerous nationalities and a modern English version is more than warranted. Ramsay Wood (egged on, he tells us, by Idries Shah) throws in a sudden 'first person narrative' chapter and fearlessly blends in contemporary asides (from Adam Smith to Mark Twain to Graham Greene) and modern idioms - and for the most part he succeeds splendidly. So a captured fish is taken home for 'an enormous fry-up'. Why not. Although perhaps it is a tad tin-eared to say of a duped camel: "The dynamics of group pressure tugged him steadily towards conformity".
This an evident labour of love and leisure. Thank you Mr Wood...
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I really like these stories and the flow is very much like ...
I really like these stories and the flow is very much like Tales from the Arabian Nights, though it does come across as Ramsay Wood telling the story. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Elena Sexton
5.0 out of 5 stars Fable Fan
As a child I loved listening to these stories read aloud to me by my father. As a university student of modern languages, I'm delighted that I can find the ebook translations, and... Read more
Published 20 days ago by Polly Gates
5.0 out of 5 stars A treasure
An absolutely lovely book, with beautiful illustrations. This book and the second volume are both treasures.
Published 1 month ago by NaomiD
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
When someone suggested this book to me it didn't really sound my cup of tea......a lot of beasts talking rubbish to each other! HOW WRONG I WAS! Read more
Published 23 months ago by Laura Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Some thoughts about Kalila and Dimna
The stories in both volumes are intriguing. The context of the dream, a lost treasure and a letter from an ancient King addressed to a future someone, all combined to make a... Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2012 by Camille M Archer
5.0 out of 5 stars A delicious reading adventure
This interwoven series of ancient animal fables have an epic quality, leading you through a delicious reading adventure. Read more
Published on 27 Oct 2011 by Denise Prentice
2.0 out of 5 stars Annoying
I think, to enjoy this, you must first be a lover of fables and morality tales, which I do not claim to be. Read more
Published on 5 Oct 2011 by DubaiReader
5.0 out of 5 stars Good stories
This is an enchanting little book. It's full of stories which can be understood by anyone and can be treated as either carrying a very serious message about human traits or just... Read more
Published on 14 Jun 2011 by A. Hart
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category