The Fables of Florian
(1888) translated by J. W. Phelps
The Fables of Florian is an eighteenth-century book of fables authored by the French poet and romance writer Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian. Animals in the fables symbolize human foibles such as pride, pretentiousness, and greed. Although inspired by earlier masters like Aesop and La Fontaine, this work has a lighter touch than the ancient classics; is similarly witty but less cruel; and is flavored with an earlier eighteenth century pastoral mode of prosody. For this ancient regime mode of writing, the author was imprisoned in 1793 by the radical revolutionary government of the Terror. Reckoned among the best of his fables are The Monkey showing the Magic Lantern, The Blind Man and the Paralytic, and The Monkeys and the Leopard. Several colloquial French aphorisms derive from Florian's fables.
At length among mankind to dwell,
Truth came, all naked, from her well.
By living there so long alone,
She had a little passée grown;
And old and young all fled surpris'd
The moment she was recogniz'd.
Poor Truth remain'd confounded quite
By such an unsuspected slight.
Just then she chanc'd to see
Fable in all her finery,
Trick'd out in plumes and diamonds, too
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