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. Wonderful post. Incredible videos, illustrations , and music. Very informative . Just fabulous !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Grace, for your wonderful comments!! I think, animal tales are always interesting! I am so happy that you like the music too.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Another fascinating post with lovely information, fables, musical pieces and poetic recitations. The crow and the fox fable is very very famous and as children, that is the first story we were told, except in the version we are told, it’s not cheese but an Indian food item called Vada sold by an old lady. The Ivan Krylov’s monkey- haha. I can be that with computers too, sometimes.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you, Grace, again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, SamSahana, for your lovely comments! I love the Indian version of the fables. The lap top can be very grumpy,
    and it takes time to make im to cooperate!

    Joanna

    Like

  6. Thank you again, SamSahana. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  7. what a great post and I loved all of the videos and wonderful stories !
    I’m so laughing as this is relatable…
    🤣🤗😘
    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”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I sure did, Joanna. I completely agree, animal tales are awesome.💕

    Like

  9. Truly my pleasure💕

    Like

  10. Thank you, Cindy, for your wonderful comments! I laughed when I was writing this post!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you again, Cindy. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s always my pleasure and thank you 🙏

    Like

  13. Oh it’s a pleasure always and glad you laughed. Truly relatable!!! 💕

    Like

  14. I love watching Herman the pigeon and I’m always amazed with the brilliance of crows.Thank you Joanna for another interesting post

    Like

  15. The most unusual aspect about this blog are not the stories more but how it has been a journey of the author to bring about newness, not in terms of assembling but the experience of the reader in drinking her stories that slowly become cells and memories to us all and one.

    I know that other readers would agree on it that she could be the best researcher of stories that nature has provided to other storytellers here on word press.

    Even though I loved fables as a child and followed various Indian fables with zeal and pomp, I had not come across this story of the cat and the cook, which is as brilliant a tale like the one of the monkey. Just in few lines she is able to put life into krylov’s works.

    By now I am well aware of her love for Pianists, and Mozart of all is her favourite, and it could be seen in her posts lately which is a celebration of music in itself. It is undoubtedly true how the world over music has done to balance the stress out of this planet. Of which, examples are numerous like the one with the British Pianist playing for the monkeys.

    I think down the line, when we all will be old and when books will be gold, we can make Joanna’s posts into books and distribute them in schools according to wants.

    It took me back many years to even feel I could have swam more deeply into the world of fables from the world over as much in melody.

    I thank Joanna for what she is and represents.
    Narayan x

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Thank you, Narayan, for your words of brilliance that feel my heart with happiness! My posts turned into books for the schools?! That idea from the Master Writer can be cherished, and I can only hope that it could be possible! Music can help many in different ways, and must have been known even to ancient people. It helps students, and people ill in hospital, or even to show what the disable can do for us through the Music Projects.

    Joanna x

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you again, Dear Narayan. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna x

    Like

  18. This is another fascinating post from you, Joanna, starting with amusing anecdote. Monkey tale made me smile. Still smiling. I also experienced frustrations with laptops and I had made a post. By the way, we consider monkeys as incarnations of Lord Hanuman.

    Stories are very much relatable, but I liked cook and cat story and Aesop’s lion tale most. I found Beatrix Patter’s cottage interesting and I enjoyed the video. Mini-bio of Aesop was also superb.

    Once again you refreshed my memories with your post. I took a trip down memory lane. But I think I missed Krylov’s monument in Summer garden during my visit to St Petersburg. I would now recollect pics etc for making a post.

    Your love for music and nature including plants and animals is really appreciable. Thank you, Joanna for such fascinating and informative posts week after week.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Thank you, Kaushal, for your wonderful comments!! Lap top is fine now, and I could leave a comment on your post about
    the roses. I loved Beatrix cottage, when I visited, as it is really interesting and the garden is beautiful!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thank you again, Dear Kaushal. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  21. You’re welcome, Joanna!

    Like

  22. My pleasure, Joanna.

    Like

  23. This is such a wonderful post and I’m left searching my memory for all the stories my father told us as children. Where have they all gone? Oh my, Joanna, you have triggered a whole new chain reaction! And the music, what can I say; you opened with Bright Eyes and Art Garfunkel’s gorgeous voice, and I’m gone……..! 😊💖💐💖💐🙋‍♂️

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Dear Ashley, thank you so much for your lovely and kind comments!! I am so happy when my work makes a positive impact on exceptional readers, like yourself!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Thank you again, Dear Asley. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Beautiful post with good stories. I loved reading all of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Thank you, joycemaryj, for your kind comments. It is good to know the animal fables read to the children in many parts of the world.

    Joanna

    Like

  28. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  29. It was my pleasure.

    Like

  30. There is no doubt in my mind that a separate section will be opened for nature fables and worlds best works of writers, researchers, scientists that will be read out to them from nature’s blog.

    And aah of course Music. Every student must learn one instrument to start with. It will be done.

    Narayan x

    Like

  31. Thank you, Narayan, that is a great idea, and the children will love it!

    Joanna x

    Like

  32. Can I thank you once more for your great kindness and wisdom, Narayan, I appreciate everything you suggest, and will follow the progress over the next few years.

    Joanna x

    Like

  33. Such sweet tales! Thank you for sharing your love of animals. (I enjoyed & empathized with your computer story, as well!) 🌞

    Like

  34. Thank you, Lisa, for your kind comment. Computer problem doesn’t last long!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Absolutely Joanna, and more than children I will love it!

    Like

  37. Thank you, Narayan, for being such wonderful man! Do you remember the Maharaja, and the children he saved? All the children played many instruments, and had wonderful childhood in India, although they all were Polish orphans, all 5000 of them.

    Joanna x

    Like

  38. As you write, you are more than welcome. But it is not me. It is you. All thanks to you.

    Narayan x

    Like

  39. Thank you again, Dear Narayan. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna x

    Like

  40. Yes Yes, I remember him, very well. Beautiful event, memory to know. It was an extraordinary find.

    Probably all these examples in front of us inspire to change the whole status quo!

    Like

  41. I am going to revamp and publish again this story because I love this amazing man! I do hope we can change the world and offer
    the kindness he did to children from another side of the world.

    Joanna x

    Like

  42. Thank you, but it is you, and your talent, wisdom and kindness that is most important!

    Joanna x

    Like

  43. Yes, its a must and few other stories that can even become a series of inspirational people.

    Also reminds of the lead character from the film Schindler’s list.

    Like

  44. With right intention and persuasive action we can change anything Joanna. If we won’t, who will?

    Like

  45. As always, Narayan, you see far ahead and deeper, and I think you are right, we must talk about as it is such a wonderful idea!!

    Joanna x

    Like

  46. Joanna, I just spent a beautiful hour and a bit with you. There were so many things in this post that I love and enjoy.

    I am a lifelong fan of Aesop’s fables. My father told them in his sermons. My daughter had a recording of the fables which we played many times. when she was young. As a teacher, I read several versions of the books and sometimes incorporated them into my reading centers. One year, at the Islamic school where I taught for four wonderful years, my fourth-grade students performed several of the fables during our annual Multicultural Day.

    I especially enjoyed the clip of the ballet from Beatrice Potter’s books…so charming! Her garden was captivating!

    The Peter Clodt monument to Krylov captured my heart, and I loved the story of how he kept animals in his studio while creating the monument.

    All of the segments in this post are worthy of separate comments. I will just close by saying how much I enjoyed the wide variety of music. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was a wonderful ending to this post. The featured double rainbow was stunning! Coincidentally, my next post, the last of three environmentally-themed Halloween Sonnets is “I Remember Rainbows.”

    My life right now is a waiting game…something I don’t tolerate well. Robert’s delayed cataract surgery and rapidly deteriorating eyesight weigh heavily on my mind. He doesn’t tolerate many of the medications doctors have been prescribing to clear up eye irritation prior to surgery, and he is concerned that the drops used in the operation will damage his eyes. I have been distracting myself by writing a lot and by reading posts. This post was a lovely diversion… informative and relaxing. Thank you so much!

    Like

  47. Thank you, Cheryl. for your wonderful comments!! I sympathise with Robert’s concerns, but he will be happy with the outcome,
    once he can see everything around him. I wish you both all the best.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Thank you again, Dear Cheryl. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  49. What a thoroughly wonderful post Joanna! The stories are fascinating! The videos captivating and so beautiful. I love the story of Herman and the Crows are amazing. So very well done!
    Dwight

    Like

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