Review: Ramsay Wood’s “Kalila and Dimna: Fables of Friendship and Betrayal”

by writereaderly

ramsey wood kalila and dimnaSelected from the Bedside Bookshelf under the misapprehension that this would make a charming out-loud read, Wood’s rewriting of the Oriental Eastern “Bidpai” tales proved instead to be dull and overworked. The fables of friendship and power are complexly inter-nested, told by a variety of speakers and creatures, and provide a mildly interesting sociological history-wash of relationships in feudal Oriental life. They aren’t, however, fascinating, and Woods writing style is an awkward melange of traditional tale-telling with uncomfortable modern inserts: e.g., “Moved with compassion and being a hearty well-wisher to the sweets of adultery, the old bag agrees” (p. 95). The most interesting thing about this book was the genealogy of the text, which I found utterly charming. Otherwise, a largely negligible book which may provide a few more “traditional” plot lines to blocked scriptwriters. For the sake of the gifting, I wish I’d enjoyed it more.

Where it came from: Gift from KE
Time and manner of reading:
Numerous bitser reads, some out loud (leading immediately to snoozing), in a slightly bored time-passing manner
Where it went:
Reminds me of/that: —
Who I’d recommend it to:
Cognoscienti of Orientalism or fables, etc.
Also reading: Rabbit #4; How to Read a Poem by Edward Hirsch;The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon;Being Alive edited by Neil Astley