Aesop’s fable of the fox and the grapes is among the most famous of all of Aesop’s fables. What does this little tale mean? And what common everyday phrase did it inspire?
In summary, the fable of the fox and the grapes runs as follows: one hot summer’s day a fox was strolling through an orchard when he came to a bunch of grapes that were ripening on a vine, hanging over a lofty branch. ‘Those grapes are just the things to quench my thirst,’ said the fox. Drawing back a few paces, the fox took a run and a jump, but just missed the bunch of grapes. Turning round again he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again the fox tried to jump up and reach the juicy grapes, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: ‘Oh well, I am sure they are sour anyway.’ Read the rest of this entry
In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle feasts upon the literary trivia to be found in this book of book lists
It will come as little surprise to regular readers of this blog that I love a good book of literary trivia. Having written a couple myself, I know the joy of trying to load every rift with ore, or every page with a surprising fact. Nicholas T. Parsons, who is also the author of a wonderfully entertaining book about the joy of bad verse, wrote one of the greatest literary trivia books for dipping into: The Book of Literary Lists, which first hit high-street bookshelves (when such things were still relatively common) in 1985.
Of course, the problem with literary trivia is that the same facts tend to do the rounds. A few books in, and the reader is left waiting for the same old anecdotes and nuggets to make an appearance. Eschewing the obvious so that such veterans of bookish trivialities will find something new and satisfying, but that relative beginners will still find illuminating, is a difficult task, but with The Book of Literary Lists Nicholas T. Parsons manages to collect together an impressive number of literary facts which were previously unknown to me. Read the rest of this entry