Oh my goodness! I woke up today to Aesop's Fables as the Book of the Day! When I was little, starting around 6 or 7, this was my second favourite book, after Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio. I often kept them right on top of each other. That may seem strange, given that I said in the last post how I hate stories with lessons, and of course Aesop's Fables are nothing but lessons! On top of that, I hardly ever agreed with the point. Why should a tortoise be dashed on rocks just because he was pleased someone thought he was the King of Tortoises (The Tortoise and the Ducks)? Why should a donkey be punished for trying to lighten his load (The Ass and the Load of Salt). Why shouldn't a jackdaw dream of being an eagle (The Eagle and the Jackdaw)? It seemed to me like the message often was, "keep your place".
Then sometimes a fable of compassion and consideration jumped out (The Boys and the Frogs). I liked that message, but the lesson wasn't the point of reading these fables. I read them in spite of the lesson in each one.
Why did I love them so very much? And still do? Maybe it is how everything is filled with consciousness, like in The Oak and the Reeds, where all the characters are plant-life. Or maybe it is because all the characters are usually animals (I love critters!), with the occasional mean human critter in the guise of a boy or farmer. The complexities of human interactions are put into the lives of animals, where the petty actions of humans do not belong, and this was obvious even to me at 7. It makes the "lessons" seem ridiculous.
The Fables to me seem to put all the inane over-judging of humans into perspective. Of course we should prepare for the winter, but we should be able to also play, instead of the dichotomy in The Ants and the Grasshopper. At 7, I believed that people bent on evil could still be talked into compassion, unlike the Wolf in The Wolf in the Lamb, but now know that is often not the case. But I also now know that it does sometimes happen, that sometimes a closed heart can be open by the right person.
I guess I love the Fables because they takes this false world of this-or-that, black-and-white, with-us-or-against-us and show one of the characters in such a situation coming to a terrible end - something that doesn't have to be. It shows the whole dichotomous mindset as being ludicrous, a mindset we aren't bound to. We can choose to think and feel and act in a multilayered way.
Plus, the Fables are full of critters.
You can read Aesop's Fables here:
Aesop's Fables at the International Children's Digital Library