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Saturday, April 6, 2019

Aesop - The Actor and the Pig (Jacobs - The Buffoon and the Countryman) - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Here's a bit of a visual update:
Note the foot under that blanket...Mrs.Kirby doesn't!
and then

As mentioned last week the theatre has had my attention this week performing in the delightful comedy, You Can't Take It With You, with Pontiac Theatre IV.  (I have greatly enjoyed being the drunken actress, Gay Wellington, and made Mock Rumballs for the AfterGlow for our opening night.)  Because of that I went hunting for a theatre-related story and found it right away as an Aesop fable.

Aesop has been retold by many people over the centuries and people often think fables are always about animals.  There's an animal in this story, but the people take the center stage.  Those re-tellings use different names for the Actor: Buffoon, Mimic, Clown, Mountebank, but clearly it's an entertainer taking the stage.  (As Gay Wellington likes to claim, "I've played everything!")  Similarly the challenger in this story is sometimes a Countryman or a Peasant, but through it all the Pig remains a Pig.

Then comes the question of stating the moral or not.  Most of the time, as a storyteller, I prefer to let the audience draw its own conclusions.  In this case while looking at various versions, I saw some strange ways of putting it BUT really liked the way Joseph Jacobs put it in his compact book of The Fables of Aesop.  While some of the versions do a good job of setting up the location of the story, he keeps it simple.  Similarly his version kept to the basics.

My only change to the book's presentation is saving the illustration by Richard Heighway until the end. (It precedes the story in the book.) That link is to an article on The Victorian Web by Simon Cooke which points out Heighway "was one of the lesser known illustrators of the nineteenth century."  While only three books are verified as being his work, even the binding designed by Heighway is described as "a small masterpiece."  I love the little book and, while this particular story omits the decorative title head and tailpiece used for many of the stories, I agree with Doctor Cooke's statement that it is "a faithful treatment of the original text, preserving and extending the sense of fun as the moral lessons are contemplated."

So however you choose to tell the many fables of Aesop, it will be your way and that's "the real thing."
This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key.
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown -
         - Richard Martin -
         - Spirit of Trees -
         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at .  It's not easy, but go to snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

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