Tales and Novels of J. de La Fontaine — Volume 11 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 38 pages of information about Tales and Novels of J. de La Fontaine — Volume 11.
the latter.  For if lucidity is to be commended in all literary works, we may say that it is especially necessary in narratives, where one thing is, as a rule, the sequel and the result of another; where the less important sometimes lays the basis of the more important; so that, once the thread becomes broken, the reader cannot gather it up again.  Besides, as narratives in verse are very awkward, the author must clog himself with details as little as possible; by means of this you relieve not only yourself, but also the reader, for whom an author should not fail to prepare pleasure unalloyed.  Whenever the Author has altered a few particulars and even a few catastrophes, he has been forced to do so by the cause of that catastrophe and the urgency of giving it a happy termination.  He has fancied that in tales of this kind everyone ought to be satisfied with the end:  it pleases the reader at any rate, if the author has not given the characters too distasteful a rendering.  But he must not go so far as that, if possible, nor make the reader laugh and cry in the same tale.  This medley shocks Horace above all things; his wish is not that our works should border on the grotesque, and that we should draw a picture half woman half fish.  These are the general motives the Author has had in view.  We might still quote special motives and vindicate each point; but we must needs leave something to the capacity and leniency of our readers.  They will be satisfied, then, with the motives we have mentioned.  We would have stated them more clearly and have set more by them, had the general compass of a Preface so allowed.

Friar Philip’s geese

          Ifthese gay tales give pleasure to the fair,
          The honour’s great conferred, I’m well aware;
          Yet, why suppose the sex my pages shun? 
          Enough, if they condemn where follies run;
          Laugh in their sleeve at tricks they disapprove,
          And, false or true, a muscle never move. 
          A playful jest can scarcely give offence: 
          Who knows too much, oft shows a want of sense. 
          From flatt’ry oft more dire effects arise,
          Enflame the heart and take it by surprise;
          Ye beauteous belles, beware each sighing swain,
          Discard his vows:—­my book with care retain;
          Your safety then I’ll guarantee at ease.—­
          But why dismiss?—­their wishes are to please: 
          And, truly, no necessity appears
          For solitude:—­consider well your years. 
          I have, and feel convinced they do you wrong,
          Who think no virtue can to such belong;
          White crows and phoenixes do not abound;
          But lucky lovers still are sometimes found;
          And though, as these famed birds, not quite so rare,
          The numbers are not great that favours share;
          I own my works a diff’rent sense express,
          But these are tales:—­mere tales in easy dress.

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Tales and Novels of J. de La Fontaine — Volume 11 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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