His second volume of fables from KALILA AND DIMNA picks up where the first left off – covering deceit, political skullduggery, murder, enemies, deadly monsters, kings, bees, princesses, monkeys, lions, crocodiles and how we all live and die together in peace or conflict. This is a book full of outrageously behaved animals and humans doing the most delightfully awful (yet sometimes gentle) things to each other. These are joyous, sad, amusing and sometimes brutal stories; their function being to educate both king and commoner alike in the ways of the world, the harsh realities that can often lurk beneath the surface of our cozy, everyday subjectivity.
'When Ramsay Wood retells a story he makes a proper job of it: not for him those pale imitations of a noble original...His style is vigorous, unrepentantly colloquial, and yet - in case your purist's soul by now is shrivelling - his text retains a high degree of that bardic dignity proper to the classic fable. As a result these stories come alive in a manner altogether uncommon and very pleasantly bracing.' The Times
'An intricately woven web of some of the world's oldest and greatest stories, sweetly and humorously retold, and begging to be read aloud to a new generation of listeners.' William Dalrymple, author of City of Djinns
'These stories speak to and belong to the whole of humanity... What Ramsay has done over the last thirty years is to have made the version for our time.' From the Introduction by Michael Wood
'Kalila wa Dimna is, like the Arabian Nights, an engine room of stories - and stories within stories. It is also one of the undoubted masterpieces of world literature. Its tales mingle entertainment and wisdom. The limpidity of Ramsay Wood's prose echoes that of the Indian original.' Robert Irwin, author of The Arabian Nights: A Companion
'A must-read for anyone interested in the masterpieces of world literature - or just in a totally engrossing and entertaining reading experience. This book is an amazing gift to all of us who love good stories and great storytelling!' Lisa Alther
Elex Media Indonesia
Medina World English
Neri Pozza Italy
Material: finished copies (225pp).
Introduction by Doris Lessing
Kalila and Dimna or The Panchatnatra (also known as The Fables of Bidpai) is a collection of animal stories that has been part of world literature for over 2000 years. It migrated across ancient cultures in many different formats. All our beast fables from Aesop through La Fontaine to Uncle Remus owe this book a debt. These tales ostensibly constitute a handbook for rulers, a so-called ‘Mirror for Princes’ illustrating how to run a kingdom. But in their slyly profound grasp of human nature at its best and its worst, they offer wise counsel for all of us today.
Based on a collation of scholarly translations from key Sanskrit, Syriac, Arabic and Persian texts, as well as the 1570 English rendition by Thomas North this is the first uncompromisingly modern re-telling in either the East or West for over 400 years.
Kalila and Dimna are two jackal brothers, and their king is a lion who befriends a sweet-natured, wandering bull named Schanzabeh. Turtles, crows, fish, insects and rats tell their tales, and in Ramsay Wood’s version the profound meanings behind these ancient fables shine forth. Wood captures this great World Classic in modern English making it utterly relevant, fascinating, insightful and hugely readable. This is a necessary book, accessible to all ages and readers, completely addictive and informative. This first volume is about friendship - making friends, losing them, cooperation, coercion, betrayal, trust, loyalty and love.
‘Contemporary, racy, vigorous, full of zest. It is also funny. I defy anyone to sit down with it and not finish it at a sitting.’ Doris Lessing
‘These wise and vigorous, sly and funny tales are contemporary: they are eternal … Kalila and Dimna is the greatest present of the Islamic heritage; it is a fountain, ever running, of sensual joy against mortified stone, against the eventual solemnity of Christian office (power and incense); overrunning with the knowledge we dare not rediscover, for fear of its negating us, in the tradition of Islam. Today when we need, more than ever, to understand the Muslim nations, Ramsay Wood’s fresh recreation of these tales becomes indispensable reading for the West. Indispensable more than for political, for human, artistic, glad reasons. Wood’s superb stories should be set alongside Italo Calvino’s recent retelling of the folktales of Italy. No higher praise is necessary.’ Carlos Fuentes
‘Wood’s version will be much more attractive to modern readers than the older translations, with their drier narratives and unfamiliar oriental hyperbole. Given the same zestful treatment, a further collection could hardly fail to be as enjoyable as the present one.’ TLS
Albin Michel France
Neri Pozza Italy
Saqi Books UK & US
Herder Verlag Germany
Elex Media Indonesia
Random House India
Material: finished copies (295pp).