Beastly tales from here and there

by Vikram Seth

Paper Book, 1991




London : Phoenix, 1993, c1991


'Because it was very hot in my house one day and I could not concentrate on my work, I decided to write a summer story involving mangoes and a river. By the time I had finished writing 'The Crocodile and the Monkey' (in a cool room lent to me by a friend), another story and other animals had begun stirring in my mind. And so it went on until all ten of these beastly tales were born - or re-born. Of the ten tales told here, the first two come from India, the next two from China, the next two from Greece, and the next two from the Ukraine. The final two came directly from the Land of Gup. I hope you enjoy them and have a beastly time.' Vikram Seth.

User reviews

LibraryThing member GlebtheDancer
This collection of poems is a wry look at some children's classics, giving them a modern twist. Although written to appeal to children, using simple rhythms and rhyming couplets, there is plenty here to entertain the adult reader, with nods to celebrity culture and environmentalism. The race
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between the Hare and the Tortoise, for instance, finishes with the usual result, but the Hare goes on to become a media celebrity, while the Tortoise languishes in obscurity. I'm sure kids would enjoy this, but the grotesque tales and knowing winks to the reader mean that adults who haven't completely lost their inner child will get a lot from it.
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LibraryThing member isabelx
'Crocodile, your wife, I know
Hungers after mangoes so
That she'd pine and weep and swoon,
Mango-less in burning June.'
Then Kuroop the crocodile,
Gazing upwards with a smile,
Thus addressed his monkey friend:
'Dearest monkey, in the end,
Not the fruit, but your sweet love,
Showered on us from
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Constant through the changing years,
Shakes her grief and dries her tears.'
(This was only partly true,
She liked love, and mangoes too.)

Humorous verse renditions of ten tales about animals. Eight are based on Indian, Chinese, Greek and Ukrainian folk-tales, and two were dreamed up by the author. Cute.
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LibraryThing member KevinRubin
I enjoyed "Beastly Tales". A bunch of fairly short, but quite amusing poems.

Some are Vikram Seth's retelling of stories and fables from other places and a couple are his own original ones.

All revolve around animals, with humans only in the background a bit, such as the king who unwittingly provides
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a home and meals for bed louses, until a mosquito joins them, or the humans in the last story who want to dam a river and upset the beasts' homes...

Very fast to read with consistent rhyming and amusing illustrations for each story.

It's rare that I enjoy poetry except for really long, epic sorts of poems (e.g. Beowulf, Dante, Vikram Seth's own The Golden Gate, etc.) but these were fast and funny to keep me entertained. Not unlike Shel Silverstein.
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