Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rendell, Blake, & La Fontaine

Ruth Rendell is the reigning sultana of psychological suspense (IMHO). Right now we have two of her novels in paperback, The Monster in the Box and The Rottweiler. I always scrounge around in thrift stores trying to score ones I haven't read. Recently I found her debut novel; here's a pristine reproduction of its first British edition. (Nice photo!)

Quentin Blake is working on illustrations for a Folio Society edition of the Fables of La Fontaine. Here's a preview depicting the Ant and the Cricket, the author's personal favorite.

The Cricket and the Ant

by Jean de La Fontaine; translation by Don Webb

The cricket had sung her song
all summer long
but found her victuals too few
when the north wind blew.
Nowhere could she espy
a single morsel of worm or fly.
Her neighbor, the ant, might,
she thought, help her in her plight,
and she begged her for a little grain
till summer would come back again.
“By next August I’ll repay both
Interest and principal; animal’s oath.”
Now, the ant may have a fault or two
But lending is not something she will do.
She asked what the cricket did in summer.
“By night and day, to any comer
I sang whenever I had the chance.”
“You sang, did you? That’s nice. Now dance.”

La Cigale et la fourmi

La cigale ayant chanté
Tout l'été,
Se trouva fort dépourvue
Quand la bise fut venue :
Pas un seul petit morceau
De mouche ou de vermisseau.
Elle alla crier famine
Chez la fourmi sa voisine,
La priant de lui prêter
Quelque grain pour subsister
Jusqu’à la saison nouvelle.
« Je vous paierai, lui dit-elle,
Avant l’août, foi d’animal,
Intérêt et principal. »
La fourmi n’est pas prêteuse :
C’est là son moindre défaut.
« Que faisiez-vous au temps chaud ?
Dit-elle à cette emprunteuse.
— Nuit et jour à tout venant
Je chantais, ne vous déplaise.
— Vous chantiez ? J’en suis fort aise :
Eh bien ! Dansez maintenant. »

A bittersweet farewell to the end of summer.

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