Print Artifact: Aesop’s Fables

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It is hard to escape childhood without hearing a classic tale from Aesop’s Fables. Many of us remember the gigantic book filled with all of the stories read to us by teachers and parents alike. The moral “lessons” at the end of each one are ingrained in our minds and sometimes the expressions derived from them come out naturally in every day conversation without even associating them with the original fable. But what happens when reading these fables outside of the “big book” and instead on the internet?

The Project Gutenberg eBook organization is a volunteer group that provides texts online for readers conveniently, for free, and available in many formats to satisfy the variety of technological resources people have. Their version of Aesop’s Fables was released in 2004 on the web with the ability to copy/paste if so desired. While this format seems like it would be an easy way to read the fables, it is in fact quite the opposite. Not only are the classic images from the original text reduced significantly in size and detail, the text itself is put into small paragraphs rather than individual pages. Perhaps the only positive way the fables are organized is the ability readers have to click on the one they want to read at a certain time.

Despite the difficulties with the layout and some of the “magic” taken away by reading it on the internet instead of through the beautifully detailed hardcover copy, it is still very useful to have these fables available for use online. If someone needed to reference them, they are able to be copy/pasted for free and if they needed to be accessed quickly, the Project Gutenberg link is reliable and always available to see. A text like Aesop’s Fables is one that should, if possible, be read in print for the first time to discover page by page the moral behind the tales instead of a “scrolling through” experience where the stories are reduced to focusing on the end rather than figuring out the message while reading them.

One thought on “Print Artifact: Aesop’s Fables

  1. I completely agree that reading the print version of Aesop’s Fables first would be ideal, before turning to the internet version where you can just click on certain parts and copy/paste whatever is most useful to you at that moment. This, although can come in handy at times, can lead to the message of the stories being lost or distorted as people are able to just look up a particular line or part of a story and take it out of context. I think it is important to have the full experience of reading the fables in their entirety first to try to prevent this from occurring.

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