Publisher: Saqi Books (2008)
Dimensions: 15.2 x 20.1 x 2.0 cm
Paperback: 303 pages
Some animal tales in Kalila and Dimna, originated over two thousand years ago in India. Ramsay Wood knits several ancient oral storytelling traditions into a punchy modern literary style. These sometimes brutal yet often humorous stories (about any creature from lion to bedbug) travelled East to West along the ancient Silk Road into the folklore of every major culture — entering Europe in 1252 from Arabic translated into old Castilian.
When Ramsay Wood retells a story he makes a proper job of it: not for him those pale imitations of a noble original which is what your average reteller palms off on his readers.
Kalila and Dimna or The Panchatantra (also known in Europe as The Fables of Bidpai) is a multi-layered, inter-connected and culturally variable arrangement of animal stories, with one story leading into another, sometimes three or four deep. These arrangements have constantly evolved and re-adapted, migrating across ancient cultures in a multitude of textual and performance formats. All our beast fables from Aesop and the Buddhist Jataka Tales through La Fontaine to Uncle Remus owe this strange, shape-shifting ‘book’ a massive debt.