Carlos Fuentes, fantasy, fatigue, Italo Calvino, Ramsay Wood, Reynard the fox, the Crusades, Ysengrimus
“It is at the source of Spanish literature: no picaresque novels even no Quixote, without these wise and vigorous, sly and funny tales. They are contemporary: they are eternal… Today, when we need, more than ever, to understand the Muslim world, Ramsay Wood’s fresh recreation of the 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 Calvinos’s recent retelling of the folk tales of Italy. No higher praise is necessary.”
The above is what Carlos Fuentes (b. 1928) has to say about Ramsay Wood’s translation of the The Tales of Kalila and Dimna, the Arabic translation, by Ibn al-Muqaffa, of Vishnu Sharma’s Panchatantra, written in Sanskrit. Indeed, “no higher praise is necessary.”
In order to understand the Muslim world, it is also useful to gather information on the Crusades. It is during the Crusades that the West first entered the Muslim world. There was criticism of the Crusades expressed in a very long Latin-language beast-epic entitled Ysengrimus, written by Nivardus of Ghent in 1148-1149, or a little later. Nivard de Gand’s Ysengrimus is the birthplace of Reynard the Fox, arguably the most famous character in beast literature. Reynard is the protagonist in countless fables.
This is a very short blog. Not that I have run out of words, but that I am tired. I suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. In 1976, I caught a viral infection from which I never fully recovered. However, do not feel sorry for me. There are so many books to read and so much beautiful music to listen to. Moreover, there are clipboards or portable desks.
In 2002, I sold a house I loved. So, during the last few weeks, I have attempted to draw a little house that would suit me. It was a challenge. The house had to be small: 12,000 sq. feet. How does one fit so many books and a piano in a small space? Besides, I have always enjoyed having a guest room.
I am happy to report that I have finally drawn the floor plan of my little house and did so using a clipboard as desk. I may not move out of this apartment, but I have decided to keep my drawing. Fantasy can be a very cozy refuge.