KALILA AND DIMNA, Vol. 1: - Fables of Friendship and Betrayal from the Panchatantra, Jatakas, Bidpai, Kalilah and Dimnah and Lights of Canopus Paperback – 20 May 2008
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'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
From the Publisher
In his retelling of 'Kalila and Dimna', Ramsay Wood deftly knits several oral storytelling traditions into a captivating literary style. This version from all major ancient texts is the first new compendium in English since 1570.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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...
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?
Wood's use of this very interesting literal tool keeps the reader in suspense throughout the book. I cannot wait to read volume 2.
Introduction excellent - but read at end to put stories in context.
For the second book in the series see: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0956708102/ref=wms_ohs_product
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 ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 morePublished 21 months ago by Polly Gates
An absolutely lovely book, with beautiful illustrations. This book and the second volume are both treasures.Published 21 months ago by NaomiD
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 morePublished on 15 Jan. 2013 by Laura Williams
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 morePublished on 10 Mar. 2012 by Camille
This interwoven series of ancient animal fables have an epic quality, leading you through a delicious reading adventure. Read morePublished on 27 Oct. 2011 by Denise Prentice