The Tale of the Monkey and her Spectacles and Other Fables

“But do you know when stories stop being stories?
The moment someone begins to believe in them.”
Andrzej Sapkowski

“Bright Eyes” by Art Garfunkel (courtesy of amethyst2001):

 

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die,
life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”

Langston Hughes

“Fly” by Ludovico Einaudi (courtesy of V M):

 

I have to admit that I am often at the mercy of my computer. As I try to retrieve text that has suddenly disappeared or to understand symbols that don’t make much sense to me, my irritation grows and steam is coming out of my ears, but then out of nowhere and instantly a vision of Ivan Krylov’s monkey appears in front of me, and I have to smile. It is the tale of a monkey who, after hearing that glasses were valued by people as they made them see better, ‘borrowed’ a pair and tried to work out where to put them. “Is it on top of the head? No, maybe better on the left arm? No, right shoulder then? No, on the foot? Or maybe at the end of the tail? No! Oh, what a lie this is!” And with that, she smashed the glasses in anger and frustration. Where computers are concerned, I am that monkey.

An amusing reading of fable poetry (courtesy of Galina Keencat):

As a heartwarming aside, the story of a British pianist who has initiated Music for Monkeys to soothe hungry macaques in Thailand (courtesy of South China Morning Post)

 

“Piano Sonato No. 16 in C Major: 1. Allegro” by Mozart, played by Mitsuko Uchida (courtesy of Mitsuko Uchida – Topic):

 

From Aesop’s tales of animals behaving like we do to the satirical fables of Jean de La Fontaine and Ivan Krylov, depicting human nature through the behaviour of various creatures, this genre of literature became phenomenally popular over the centuries.

Mini-bio of Aesop (courtesy of Socratica):

Krylov’s monkey or the hilarious story of a cook who had a spoiled cat will stay with me forever. It tells of the moment when the cook spotted his cat just starting to tuck into a freshly roasted chicken that was on the table ready to be served at lunch. Raising his hands up and looking up to the sky, the cook exclaimed: “Oh, how you have hurt me! I trusted you and looked after you so well!” The cat was listening but kept on eating. The cook continued: “How could you be so selfish! So ungrateful, how?!” The cat was listening but eating. The cook continued: “I brought you up from a kitten, and you have never wanted for anything, have you? All the sacrifices, all the expenses!” The cat was listening and eating. ” Are you not ashamed before the very walls, let alone before people?” The cat was listening but eating. And while the cook kept on lamenting, the cat finished the chicken, jumped off the table, and disappeared. Krylov’s postscript gave advice: ‘I would advise another cook to chisel on the wall: do not waste words in vain, when what is needed is action’.   No doubt, this tale will resonate with many indulgent parents.

Not many people know about Ivan Krylov, the Russian author of satirical Fables, that were loved in Russia for over two hundred years. He was born in St. Petersburg in 1769 and at the beginning of his allegorical writing, he would translate the fables from Aesop and La Fontaine, adapting them to satirise the peculiarities of Russian life, and especially the country’s complex bureaucracy. Later on, his own talent for acute observation of human relationships would be offered under the guise of animal cautionary tales.

“String Quartet No.2 in D Major: III. Notturno (Andante)” by Alexander Borodin, performed by the Borodin Quartet (courtesy of Borodin Quartet – Topic):

 

Above is the charming monument to Krylov located in the Summer Garden, where he loved to walk and read, in St Petersburg; the pedestal is most striking, richly decorated with bronze fauna, and the manner of its creation is noteworthy.  The sculptor Peter Clodt preferred to work from life, and his studio became a temporary home to a donkey, a cat, dogs, a wolf, monkeys, a ewe with lambs, a fox, a crane, a frog, and even a bear. Only the lion and the elephant proved too much for the sculptor to handle, and he was obliged to refer to the menageries on Fontanka and at Tsarskoye Selo.

“In the Summer Garden: 1960s” (courtesy of Nigel Fowler Sutton):

 

“My Summer Garden” (courtesy of Monique Smulders):

 

I wrote in another post about Aesop’s tale of a lion being in a good mood after lunch, who on seeing a little mouse scurrying too close by, let her go. Sometime later the lion had a mishap; he had stepped on a hidden thorny twig and had a thorn embedded in his paw. As this was very painful, he was feeling sorry for himself. The same little mouse came by and seeing his swollen paw, got to work on it, and in no time she got the thorn out. The obvious inspiring moral was: no matter who we are, we can all help each other.

The Lion and the Rat, and The Dove and the Ant, two fables by Jean de La Fontaine (courtesy of Oxford Academic):

 

By the way, are doves and pigeons the same? (courtesy of Natural History Museum)

 

A fascinating defence of the maligned pigeon (courtesy of It’s Okay To Be Smart):

 

One lucky and wonderful little pigeon – meet Herman! (courtesy of GeoBeats Animals):

 

La Fontaine’s fable about the vain crow and the clever fox serves as a reminder that vanity can bring us disastrous consequences, and that flattery can get the flatterer anything. One day a crow got lucky and found a big piece of cheese. As she sat on the tree preparing to enjoy her early morning breakfast, who happened to be passing by, but a hungry fox. On seeing the crow with the cheese in her beak, he stopped under the tree and started loudly praising the crow’s beauty: “Oh, what a beautiful head and your shape is just divine! And your smouldering eyes, why, truly you could be a queen of the birds. I bet your voice is as pure and silvery, just give a few notes, why don’t you? I would love to hear you sing!” The crow, having her head turned by the flattery, opened her beak and gave her usual harsh – crrroow. The cheese fell out and down straight into the fox’s open jaws. At that moment, the smirking fox with the chunk of cheese disappeared into the woods. The hollering of the foolish crow was not recorded.

 

This crow is incredibly smart, solving an eight-step puzzle to secure food – as his achievement is so extraordinary and mesmerising, I have provided two complementary perspectives (courtesy of BBC Earth and rationalstabs):

 

 

Beatrix Potter wrote seemingly her stories for children, but they are adored by adults too, the world over. Every year hundreds of thousands of travellers arrive to visit her enchanting cottage in the Lake District. The flowering climbers that cover the cottage, the little garden around it, and all the rooms inside are all kept as if she had just left for a short walk.  Even the hole in the floor of the landing where a rat lived is there to be seen. Not to mention the nine thousand acres of green rolling hills around, left to be forever free from any development in her will to the National Trust. Her tales of naughty Peter Rabbit, Mrs. Tiggywinkle, three little pigs, and many others are perfect allegories about ourselves. And, of course, made even more appealing by Beatrix’s exquisite illustrations.

A snippet from the enchanting interpretation “Tales of Beatrix Potter” by The Royal Ballet (courtesy of Royal Opera House):

 

Inside Beatrix Potters cottage garden at Hill Top (courtesy of Together TV):

 

“The Victorian Kitchen Garden Suite: Prelude” by Paul Reade (courtesy of David Harris):

Other contemporary fables that are loved by millions of children and adults alike include Animal Farm which gave us the famous quote: ” All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”, Brambly Hedge with its enchanting, heartwarming illustrations, Charlotte’s Web, and Babe, which were made into greatly successful films.

A taster of the magical “Charlotte’s Web” (courtesy of Movieclips Classic Trailers):

 

“The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly”, the latest addition to the fabulists’ club, sold well over two million copies in South Korea alone and was written by a Korean author, Sun-Mi Hwang. It is an inspiring tale of courage, love, and sacrifice and it deserves its place among the Greats of this genre.

“Bamboo Flute” ( 綠野仙蹤 by陳悅) (courtesy of TaiGekTou):

 

John Siciliano, Senior Editor at Penguin Group, explains why this book is so special (courtesy of Penguin Korea):

 

 

And we have lift off! (courtesy of Chicken Channel)

 

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World” medley by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (courtesy of buyakga1946):

 

 

56 thoughts on “The Tale of the Monkey and her Spectacles and Other Fables

  1. Thank you, Dwight, for your generous comments! I am glad that you liked everything, as I like writing about interesting events.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you again, Dwight. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are welcome!

    Like

  4. You must have wonderful resources at your disposal. Do you get all of your things on line?

    Like

  5. I get everything on line, but you need to know where to look for them!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very good! You do a great job!

    Like

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