Fables and Tales by the German Aesop, C.f. Gellert (1715-1769): A Moral Teacher of the German Nation

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These are translations of fables and tales written by C.F. Gellert. Gellert was an eighteenth century folklorist whose work has been canonized. Critics have argued that the stories are fundamentally homegrown and come from the German people (the “Volk”), and they speak directly to the heart of the people. These works are used less often for moral instruction in contemporary society, something the author laments, but are still important components of German folklore.


“Professor Van Cleve has done us a great service by his meticulous and valuable rendition of this historic work from the German into the English. As a long-time educator I have come to regret the precipitous decrease in such texts available to students, readers and scholars over the years, and this work I support enthusiastically.”
Prof. Christopher L. Dolmetsch,
Marshall University

“Called ‘the nation’s teacher’ by his contemporaries, C.F. Gellert was Germany’s most influential literary voice during the middle years of the eighteenth century. He achieved that status as an extraordinarily popular lecturer at the University of Leipzig on poetry, rhetoric and moral philosophy and as a successful novelist, playwright, writer of hymns, formulator of effective epistolary style and the author of fables and tales.”
Prof. Bruce Duncan
Dartmouth College

"The essential tension in the poets goal is maintained throughout. Gellert's brisk, forceful, and often humorous language and world-wise, yet deeply pious teachings shine through these translations, which consistently preserve the sense and poetic context, if not the rhyme or original meter. A number of word plays and other difficult linguistic flourishes that have no ready equivalents in English were handled brilliantly and with great inventiveness, and in no case did I find the English rendering to be incorrect or arbitrary."
Prof. Frankie Shackelford, Augsburg College

Table of Contents

Foreword by Bruce Duncan
Translator’s Introduction
The Nightingale and the Lark
The Finch
The Dancing Bear
The Story of the Hat
The Gray-Haired Man
The Colt
The Invalid
The Fox and the Magpie
The Land of the Lame
The Cuckoo
The Ghost
The Churchy Woman
The Lame Man and the Blind Man
The Dog
The Lawsuit
The Testament
The House of Cards
The Loving Wife
The Spider
The Bee and the Hen
The Sweet Dream
The Traveler
The Bridegroom’s Happiness
…and many more

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