Krylov’s THE CAT AND THE NIGHTINGALE*

Posted by jlubans on July 28, 2020

20200728-rayevkrilovcatandbirdb.jpg
Caption: Reproduction of painting by E.M. Rayev 1961(also known as E. Rachyova and Evgenij Mihajlovich Rachev (1906-1997).

A CAT, which had caught a Nightingale, stuck its claws into the poor bird, and, pressing it lovingly, said,
"Dear Nightingale, my soul! I hear that you are everywhere renowned for song, and that you are considered equal to the finest singers.
My gossip, the Fox, tells me that your voice- is so sonorous and wonderful that, at the sound of your entrancing songs, all the shepherds and shepherdesses go out of their wits.
I have greatly desired to hear you—don't tremble so, and don't be obstinate, my dear: never fear; I haven't the least wish to eat you.
Only sing me something; then I will give you your liberty, and release you to wander through the woods and forests.
I don't yield to you in love for music, and I often purr myself to sleep."
Meanwhile our poor Nightingale scarcely breathed under the Cat's claws.
" Well, why don't you begin?" continued the Cat.
" Sing away, dear, however little it may be."
But our songster didn't sing; only uttered a shrill cry.
" What! is it with that you have entranced the forest?" mockingly asked the Cat.
"Where is the clearness, the strength, of which everyone talks incessantly?
Such a squeaking I 'm tired of hearing from my kittens.
No; I see that you haven't the least skill in song.
Let's see how you will taste between my teeth."
And it ate up the poor singer, bones and all.
___________
Krylov published
this fable in 1824 during a time of many prohibitions and wide censorship in Russia.
Just about any topic not to the liking of the censor could get a writer canceled.
While the press’ freedom improved in later decades the practices from the1820s served as a prescription (among other Czarist horrors like executions by the secret police and internment in Siberia) for Stalin and his successors. I’d guess Mr. Putin is not a fan of this fable.
Krylov depicts the depredations of censorship, akin to today’s cancel culture. Get on the wrong side of the woke “mob” and you will be disappeared, figuratively. However, once the mob’s in charge, you will vanish, literally.

*Source: Krilof and his fables, by Krylov, Ivan Andreevich, 1768-1844; Ralston, William Ralston Shedden, 1828-1889. Tr. London, 1869.

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