Fables for Our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated

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First edition
(publ. Harper Brothers)

Fables for Our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated is a 1940 book by James Thurber. Thurber updates some old fables and creates some new ones of his own. Notably there is 'The Bear Who Could Take It Or Leave It Alone' about a bear who lapses into alcoholism before sobering up and going too far that way. (He used to say 'See what the bears in the back room will have.') Also an updated version of 'Little Red Riding Hood' which ends with the immortal lines, "even in a nightcap a wolf does not look any more like your grandmother than the Metro-Goldwyn lion looks like Calvin Coolidge. So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead. " All the fables have one-line morals. The moral of 'Little Red Riding Hood' is "Young girls are not so easy to fool these days." Another fable concerns a non-materialist chipmunk who likes to arrange nuts in pretty patterns rather than just piling up as many as he can. He is constantly nagged by his chipmunk wife for this.

All fables had previously appeared in The New Yorker.



Fables for Our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated contains 28 fables written and illustrated by Thurber.

Fable issue date of New Yorker
The Mouse Who Went to the Country Jan 21, 1939
The Little Girl and the Wolf Jan 21, 1939
The Two Turkeys Jan 21, 1939
The Tiger Who Understood People Jan 21, 1939
The Fairly Intelligent Fly Feb 04, 1939
The Lion Who Wanted to Zoom Feb 04, 1939
The Very Proper Gander Feb 04, 1939
The Moth and the Star Feb 18, 1939
The Shrike and the Chipmunks Feb 18, 1939
The Seal Who Became Famous Feb 17, 1940
The Hunter and the Elephant Feb 18, 1939
The Scotty Who Knew Too Much Feb 18, 1939
The Bear Who Let lt Alone Apr 29, 1939
The Owl Who Was God Apr 29, 1939
The Sheep in Wolf's Clothing Apr 29, 1939
The Stork Who Married a Dumb Wife Jul 29, 1939
The Green Isle in the Sea Feb 17, 1940
The Crow and the Oriole Jul 29, 1939
The Elephant Who Challenged the World Jul 29, 1939
The Birds and the Foxes Oct 21, 1939
The Courtship of Arthur and Al Aug 26, 1939
The Hen Who Wouldn't Fly Aug 26, 1939
The Glass in the Field Aug 26, 1939
The Tortoise and the Hare Oct 21, 1939
The Patient Bloodhound Feb 17, 1940
The Unicorn in the Garden Oct 21, 1939
The Rabbits Who Caused All the Trouble Aug 26, 1939
The Hen and the Heavens Feb 04, 1939

Illustrated Poems[edit]

Fables for Our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated contains nine poems written by diverse authors and illustrated by Thurber (the dates given are those of The New Yorker issue):