We continue on our literary journey to explore the greatest fables that have ever been written, in part one of this blog we looked at the great works by Kipling and Aesop. And we carry on flipping through the pages of fable history to uncover more great work.
Joel Chandler Harris
Joel Chandler Harris is a modern day author of fables and he is famous for creating the Uncle Remus stories. The Uncle Remus stories are loved by children and adults all over the world, and they are a series of tales that the main characters reappear all the time.
Br’er Rabbit is the hero of the tales, and Brother Rabbit goes through his adventures by fighter stronger adversaries using his quick wits and brains. The hero has questionable morals and sometimes his actions are a little underhand. His character is so believable as he does not win all his battles, but he represents the ordinary person fighting oppression. There has been said about these tales that they represent the African slaves in America, and to some extent this is true.
The oldest fables in India are the Panchatantra Stories which were originally written in Sanskrit, and these stories have inspired many other Indian authors to write fables of their own. The Panchatantra Stories are supposedly written by Vishnu Sharma, who was engaged by the king to create fables so the king’s children would know how to run the kingdom after he died. So these stories are a guideline to nobility of how to rule, and are written in five parts.
The Fables of Bidpai
These Arabic fables are all based upon the stories of Panchatantra, with the main characters being Bidpai, Kalilah, Dimnah, and Dabschelim. The fables are pretty complicated in the way they are put together and you have to spend time on them to get the best out of them. The themes are common to most fables, such as morals and ethics.
The Jataka Tales are an extension based loosely on the life and teachings of Buddha. There are over five hundred different fables in the collection with the main character being an incarnation of Buddha. Buddha appears as both human and animal in the tales before he becomes enlightened. These fables were mostly written before Christ around the 4th Century and can be found in other famous works such as in Aesop’s tales and the Panchatantra. Which are then adapted from the original scripts and embellished to be more relevant to the time.
Ambrose Bierce wrote the Fantastic Fables, and his extraordinary writing talent was based on all his experiences in life. Bierce was an artist, soldier, fabulist, journalist, and satirist. The morals of his fables are sometimes hard to find as his witty style of writing often meanders around the theme. The most amazing thing about Ambrose Pierce is that nobody knows how he died, he simply disappeared on one of his heroic adventures. Perhaps it is a fitting way for a master fable writer to die, just like the plot in one of his many tales.