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List of most popular fables of all time
Most famous collections of fables in the world; list of free resources
Talking about famous fables, we probably already have a big list for children in mind.
This page is organized as huge list of fables. We will present resources of some of the most known fables from the world.
Bellow are many links to reading fables on-line and free downloads for out of copyright fables together with some of the finest illustrations! Enjoy:)
(Intro illustration by Walter Crane, all images are Public Domain)
Looking for the ultimate list of stories with morals?
If you are looking for biggest, most complete and best organized list of fables, this is probably the one, although it is not perfect. It is on-line, it is illustrated and it is completely free. Here you can find:
- Works by Aesop, Babrius and Phaedrus
- Fables by less known authors like Abstemius, Pergamenus and others
- Oriental Fables (Hindu, Persian, Chinese...)
- Modern Fables (French, Spanish, Russian...)
- Stories with morals from other continents (Africa and America)
The listed selection is huge but don't forget - below this link you will find even MORE famous fables (think about George Ade, Leonardo da Vinci (!), Jean de la Fontaine, Ivan Kriloff, Ambrose Bierce...) and two freebies of 'best of the best collections' for your e-reader, so don't loose this page (you can bookmark it right now)!
Free Aesop's Wisdom for Your Kindle - The most famous and inspiring collection ever
Although we know now Aesop never wrote any of the fables from 'his' collection (it was actually Phaedrus), his name is inseparably connected with all tales with morals. They are important and inseparable part of literary tradition. None of the fables list could be complete without 'his' book.
This book is a must have in every library. Let me tell you why.
The timeless messages and evergreen morals can inspire everybody in just about every possible situation.
Many of everyday phrases like 'sour grapes', 'borrowed feathers' or 'lion's share' came from this collection of wisdom, so knowing the Aesop's collection it is really part of general education.
And because they are short, we can read them while waiting in lines or similar situations.
Guess what - this legendary book is now available free of charge!
Aesop's Fables - Most popular educational stories of all times
Aesop was a slave from Greek, Turkey, Bulgaria or even from Ethiopia. We really can't be sure if he even existed. And we surely can't prove if he wrote any of fables associated to his name.
But we can still enjoy them and learn their lessons on-line in next four (list of Aesop's Fables is pretty long) sections:
List of fables continues...
Ever heard about Guy Wetmore Carryl?
Guy Wetmore Carryl was an American poet, humorist and only one of hundreds talented writers who used Aesop's material to make new, original stories with amusing twists and surprising interpretations. His Fables for the Frivolous are available right here.
Jean de la Fontaine - La Fontaine's Fables
This Moliere's contemporary (and friend) was one of the best French poets of 17th century and maybe the first real master of his language. He had all sorts of troubles in his personal and business life but never lacked of patrons for his literary adventures.
He wrote Fables influenced by Aesop and Boccaccio with adult audience in mind and reached all kind of folks thanks to freshness of narration and skillfull development of characters. Here you can find more info on the background of Jean de La Fontaine's Fables ...
and here we go with online collection of La Fontaine's Fables!
Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian
Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1755-1794) was poet, translator, playwright and fabulist of noble origin. His stories are valued as best after Jean de La Fontaine.
Unfortunately he died way before his prime, so he didn't write much...
Here is English translation of about half of Florian fables which were one hundred and fourty-four altogether.
This amazing collection of Nobel Prize Award Winner feature stories where animals present human properties is author's homage to childhood spent in India.
He went back to India later and evidently those years left strong influence on his life and works. Stories from Jungle Book are typical tales with strong moral tones.
With illustrations of writer's father they were huge success and now we can read these famous fables on-line. Free of charge!
And for bonus you can check the Just So Stories for Little children by the same author with amusing and imaginative answers on many animal related questions by kids, like: "How the Camel Got His Hump", "How the Leopard Got His Spots" and so on.
Rudyard Kipling also illustrated the book Just So Stories - just click the title!
Enjoy your reading!
Did you know?
Rudyard Kipling is still the youngest Nobel laureate for literature. When he received the award, he was only 42 years old!
Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris
We can't make a decent list of famous fables without mentioning Uncle Remus stories.
In several collections many fables feature interesting character Br'er (Brother) Rabbit who uses his with to fight against stronger opponents.
Br'er Rabbit (also called Breer Rabbit) is a trickster who's moral can be questionable, he is not always successful in his endeavours but he quickly became a symbol of fight against stronger opponents. Some suggest he represents enslaved African, but these fables originate not only in different parts of Africa, they can be found also in Cherokee oral tradition.
Well, Joel Chandler Harris has written a bestseller. You can check for yourself:
Many of the stories of Uncle Remus are considered as politically incorrect by today's standard!
Wisdom from Africa
If we presented Uncle Remus Stories which are actually Afro-American fables, it is only fair to provide a list of short fables from Africa too!
So here is the list of mostly animal fables: African Fables - packed with ancient wisdom and surprisingly fresh view on the world.
Like it or not, some truths are timeless!
Panchatantra stories (Indian fables) - by Vishnu Sharman
One of oldest known collections of fables is called Panchatantra. Panchatantra stories were written in Sanskrit and inspired many other tales and their collections.
Fables of Panchatantra are divided into five logical sections and are available on-line here.
Fables of Bidpai - Kalilah and Dimna
The Fables of Bidpai (aka Fables of Pilpay) is a collection of Arabic tales based on Panchatantra.
They were probably transported to Persia, then translated to Persian and after that to Arabian. Arabs transported the collection to Spain and Italy, where it was translated to English. Many of these famous stories were not only translated but also rewritten, some were added, other lost and this is actually pretty different collection than Panchatantra.
Fables of Bidpai are narrated in relatively complicated frame format, typical for Oriental style of narration (most famous example of course being 1001 Nights, which are collection of fairy tales, stories and fables) with several main characters like Pilpay (Bidpai) and Dabschelim, Kalilah and Dimnah (Kalila and Dimna) ... but essentially broken in easy to remember short fables with morals like: don't trust flatterers, bad deeds are punished, don't trust enemies and so on.
Here it is available on-line and for download in several formats: Fables of Bidpai (Kalilah wa Dimnah) published in 1852, but still fresh and educational!
Another free e-book
Jean de La Fontaine was probably the greatest fabulist of all times.
This book is great example of using fables with morals in 'real' life situations. La fontane took many old stories from Greece and India and rewrote them.
They are not only superbly written in verse, they also reflect modern situations with really healthy dose of humor. We can all use some intelligent humor, right?
Not a single list of fables can be completed without La Fontaine's work. right now this e-book is available totally free!
Fable - a definition
There are many definitions of a fable, one of my favorites is about the difference about a fable and a fairy tale. It comes from Gilbert Keith Chesterton:
"Fable can't be good with a human in it and fairy tale can't be good without one."
Tales of Hitopadesha (Hitopadesa)
Another set of Fable Stories
One of collections inspired by Panchatantra above is called Hitopadesha. These fables were with its audience in mind - young princes learning how to rule the country. That's where the name came from: hito (benefit) and upadesha (advice).
They are written in attractive and easy understandable format, which is in English partly available on-line right here.
Each of these fables (more than 500 altogether) talks about a virtue, associated with an animal or human. The main character (animal or human) is one of incarnations of Buddha before he was entitled as Enlighten One.
Jataka in sanskrit means Born, what is related with Buddha's many births and fits with reincarnation beliefs.
Some of these stories, dating from 4 th century before Christ can be found in Panchantantra and other collections (e. g. Aesop's Fables) and in various adaptations became part of world literature heritage.
Feel free to read English translations of Jataka Tales!
by Wilhelm Heys
Another beautiful book in public domain presents 50 fables with clear morals.
Every single story is accompanied with a beautiful illustration by Otto Speckter and being written in verse adds a special charm to this book available on-line.
Enjoy in this classic collection!
Leonardo Da Vinci
Yes, Leonardo da Vinci wrote several fable stories too! In fact, he wrote many and he also illustrated them.
If you want to learn more about this less known aspect of genius, here is the chance to check some of the best Leonardo da Vinci's fables.
Fifty-One Fables in Verse
John Gay was a poet and writer in the first decades of 18 th century.
He was, as many of his contemporaries, supported with numerous patrons among nobility although his works often mocked relationships in society and nobility was his favorite target.
His most famous work is The Beggar's Opera.
In 1727 John Gay wrote a book for than six year old Prince William to provide him some educational material in entertaining form.
This book contained 51 short and witty stories in verse and we can read it right here.
Ivan Kriloff - (Ivan Krylov)
This Russian fabulist signed a lot of different literary works but it seems his wisdom and humor were best demonstrated in his collection of fables which can be read on-line or downloaded in several formats.
So here it is: Ivan Andreevich Kriloff's Fables.
George Ade's Works
We can't make a decent list of fables without George Ade (1866-1914) stories with humorous morals. Due his ironic messages this American writer and columnists is sometimes called first American humorist.
George Ade's speciality was everyday's life of ordinary people and rich language. In Ade's fables this is more than obvious and the collections presented below clearly show that.
Another interesting info: George Ade made real fortune with his writings and donated a lot of money to several institutions.
Here are two collections by George Ade:
What kind of stories are best for children?
We want stories to be interesting and educational at the same time. Fairy tales have stronger imaginary and fables rational component. At first sight fables look more appropriate to teach.
Are fables best kind of stories to teach children?
Ambrose Bierce - Fantastic Fables
If you are looking for something extraordinary Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce's Fantastic Fables should be at the top of your list. He was a soldier, sketcher, journalist, satirist and fabulist. He wrote a lot of interesting works and they are very likely in public domain.
However we can not be one hundred percent sure because nobody knows when and how Ambrose Bierce died. At age 71 (!) he joined Pancho Villa's army as observer of Mexican revolution and in December 1913 vanished without a trace. His fantastic fables are special because the moral is often lost in twisted humor.
Don't be fooled by the titles similar to Aesop's... Enjoy Bierce's Fantastic Fables!
Fairy Tales or Fables? - Is there a difference?
Do you prefer fairy tales or fables?
What's the difference?
We should distinguish fables from fairy tales because fables are much simpler, with very strong educational message (moral of the story) and as such have different impact on listeners or readers.
Fairy tales operate on symbolic levels what is great for children because children's mind is not as structured and molded as adult's. Fables are on the other hand so simple the child and the adult would probably find the same meanings from the same story.
This is very desired when we want to teach somebody a lesson and we want to present it fast. Unfortunately such lessons are not so strong as some learned from fairy tales, so their impact is not so long-lasting.
But good story is still a good story and who doesn't know fables like Grasshopper and Ant, Lion and Mouse and similar evergreen popular fables?
If there is something unspoken you want to know about fables, here is the perfect time and place to let me know... Or just say hi so I can return your visit:)