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Collected Fables
Collected Fables
Collected Fables
Электронная книга335 страниц2 часа

Collected Fables

Автор James Thurber

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"James Thurber was a comedic genius. His fables are not simply parodies of Aesop. They are wry, accurate, and powerful reflections of ourselves, our foibles, our follies, and, above all, our self-importance. And they are very, very funny." --Neil Gaiman

James Thurber has been called “one of the world’s greatest humorists” by Alistair Cooke (The Atlantic), and “one of our great American institutions” (Stanley Walker)—and few works reveal Thurber’s genius as powerfully as his fables. Perennially entertaining and astutely satirical, Thurber pinpricks the idiosyncrasies of life with verbal frivolity, hilarious insights, political shrewdness, and, of course, quirky, quotable morals.

Now, readers can savor 85 fables by the twentieth century’s preeminent humorist collected for the first time in a single anthology. Here, Fables for Our Time, Further Fables for Our Time, and ten previously uncollected fables—illustrated by ten contemporary artists including Seymour Chwast, Mark Ulriksen, Laurie Rosenwald, and R. O. Blechman—are presented in Collected Fables, a must-have for readers of all ages.

ЯзыкEnglish
ИздательHarperCollins
Дата выпуска11 июн. 2019 г.
ISBN9780062909183
Collected Fables
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Автор

James Thurber

James Thurber was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1894. Famous for his humorous writings and illustrations, he was a staff member of The New Yorker for more than thirty years. He died in 1961.

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    Collected Fables - James Thurber

    A Fabulist for Our Time

    From his early stories and cartoons in that nascent magazine, The New Yorker, to the last works dictated before his death in late 1961, James Thurber negotiated a terrain that was as confounding as it was recognizably our own—most often, in the role of fabulist.

    Thurber’s works were and are the product of a mind bent over backward to make sense—or even nonsense—of a chaotic world. Their range is especially broad, from stories such as the renowned The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, to his suite of boyhood memories My Life and Hard Times (a book Russell Baker said was possibly the shortest and most elegant autobiography ever written*); from his broadly appealing books for younger readers, to his reminiscences of the familiar figures of his youth (The Thurber Album) or his colleagues at The New Yorker (The Years with Ross). And to this we must add his voluminous work as a cartoonist and illustrator.

    If you’re like me, and I know I am . . . was Thurber’s quintessential perspective. He was an acutely, if not painfully, perceptive man, and he counted that on some deep level, the irritation he perceived wasn’t merely a personal pettiness but was, in fact, something rampant in the general population. The blasts of bafflement that chilled Thurber to the bone often became more than cocktail banter: more like battle cries in a common outrage. Thurber used humor to dance through life, offering himself up quite seriously as laughing matter as he shimmied under the lower and lower pole of the ideal.

    Humor is the midpoint between boorishly whining and feverishly declaiming, between woe is me and listen to me! It’s an attempt at equilibrium and homeostasis—that survival strategy that requires the least expenditure of energy for the maximum necessary comfort. Throughout much of his prose, Thurber shrewdly focused on being a human animal, an adaptable being among other beasts. (Indeed, he once considered The Bestiary in Me as title for one of his collections.) As the Manchester Guardian wrote of his fables: It was Whitman who wanted to turn and live with the animals; it is Thurber who has succeeded in the only possible terms, by enlisting them in the endless battle for human sanity.

    And so we find Thurber’s humor often constructed at the intersection of really? and reality. Bridging such discrepancy, his dreamed-up outcomes lean on the signpost alongside present dramas. That way, one is moving toward the choreography of an imagined future. This way, one sees the muddy footprints of foreclosed facts. Thurber’s pages braid sobering facts and drunken hopes into a thread, a tightrope that spanned the abyss—this abysmal span of his then-current events.

    The fables are thus quintessential Thurber, a distillation, a coup de grâce that share his best cartoons’ puissance: not just ha ha, but aha.

    Despite the decades that have passed since their composition, the eighty-five fables collected here possess a renewed relevance in this Life and Hard Times of ours. Partly, it’s the timeless nature of fables themselves. They’re pastoral windows that exist both within and beyond a particular time. Most of Thurber’s preoccupations, the subjects that pricked and prodded him throughout his various books, are reprised and distilled in these short works with wizened authority: the untidy course of love; the bitterness of lost hope; false speech and the loosening grip on language; mistrust and suspiciousness; the mongering of hate and the fragility of peace. All these topics are at the core of these miniature narratives.

    A fable may be spare in