Anita Desai

Uncle Remus

Kalila and Dimna: Selected Tales of Bidpai

By Ramsay Wood

Alfred Knopf 260pp £6.95 order from our bookshop

In his brief and modest afterword, Ramsay Wood has listed the eight chief sources of this book of fables, saying that ‘each was useful in some way’ and that he ‘studied them till a master: template began to emerge. I wanted to write the truest story for a modern audience.’ Although a good deal of scholarship has gone into this selection and re-telling, he claims to be an ‘apprentice storyteller’ rather than a ‘traditional scholar’. Doris Lessing, in her lengthier preface, has also chosen to avoid giving the scholarly pedigree of these tales in the belief that this would distract attention from the primary to the secondary source of interest.

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