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Aesop’s Fables

The Cruelty of the Gods

Aesop’s Fables
Carlo Gébler By (author)
Gavin Weston Illustrated by
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Interlink Books

Limited ***

5.5 X 8.5 in
320 pg

FICTION / Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology



A witty illustrated version of the world's greatest collection of fables, allegedly written by a slave in the 5th century BC. A book for our times: as Gebler notes, Aesop has two subjects—the exercise of power and the experience of the powerless who endure life and all that it inflicts on them. This retelling of the Fables makes them relevant and richly enjoyable.

Large and fierce animals kill and butcher weaker creatures; gods play games with the hopes and fears of lesser species, including men and women; and occasionally the weak turn the tables on the strong, exposing their pretensions. This is a stunning new version of a book that was often bowdlerized and used to teach moral lessons to children. Gebler’s Aesop is darker and more realistic, and compulsively readable.


"A wonderful, gloomy and welcome addition to the Aesopic corpus. The stories have been re-written in a spiky, contemporary style... The content of these pessimistic stories is thought-provoking but what makes the collection absolutely delightful is the vigor and originality of Carlo Gébler's writing. The illustrations by Gavin Weston are likewise magnificent."The Irish Times

This repackaging of [Aesop's] fables by Carlo Gébler and illustrator Gavin Weston is a reminder that adult minds were originally the target of this litany of pocket-sized parables ... There is very much a feeling here of the ancient sound-tracking the alarmingly present. ??Sunday Independent (Dublin)

Scary new versions of ancient morality tales, Aesop's Fables, with stings in all their tails [...] are full of adult wisdom, human misfortune and bitter experiences, which, because they happen to other people, are hilarious.Belfast Telegraph

Intended for adult readers, this new compilation of these ancient fables from writer Gébler (The Wing Orderly's Tales) and illustrator Weston (Harmattan) is relentlessly dark and biting, with many tales revealing hard truths uncannily apposite to the inequalities of today's world. Retelling the fables in modern vernacular, Gébler organizes the 190 myths into chapters dealing with particular human foibles and frailties, concentrating on the imbalance between the powerful and the powerless, and the ways in which greed, selfishness, and pride harm both the innocent bystander and the guilty party. Perhaps the most affecting and relatable entries are those dealing with the random cruelty of fate, often represented by the malicious fancies of supernatural agents, and Gébler packs an emotional gut-punch into each spare, succinct paragraph including these points.?VERDICT?While there's little comfort to be found in these tales that ruthlessly dissect human nature, this anthology is not without its charms, especially as found in the whimsical illustrations and witty, honest prose.Library Journal

Author Bio

Carlo Gébler was born in Dublin, the elder son of the Irish writers Ernest Gébler and Edna O'Brien. He is a novelist, biographer, playwright and teacher, frequently working with prisoners in Northern Irish jails. His novel The Dead Eight, based on events that took place in rural Tipperary in 1940, was described by Julian Evans as having a “Swiftian understanding of the world’s secret machinations.” His other novels include How to Murder a Man (1998) and A Good Day for a Dog. Driving through Cuba: An East-West Journey was published in 1988, and his other nonfiction books include The Glass Curtain, about the sectarian divisions of Belfast, and Father and I: A Memoir, a book about his difficult relationship with his distant father.

Gavin Weston was born in Belfast. He lives on the Ards Peninsula with an ancient dog and a cantankerous parrot. He is an artist, writer, teacher, and campaigner against child marriage, working with the charity, FORWARD. He is the author of the novel Harmattan and was a columnist for The Sunday Times for many years. Working as a writer-in-residence at HMP Magilligan, he met and became friends with Carlo Gébler and founded and edited the prison magazine Time In.