Fables for the modern world


Fables for the modern world

You may have grown up reading Aesop's Fables and other scrupulous tales, but the world has changed since. Relive the magic of fables with these tales that more aptly fit the times we live in

By Compiled by Rohit Nair

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Published: Thu 3 Mar 2016, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 4 Mar 2016, 1:00 AM

We all know that a salmon's life can be pretty predictable: swim to place of birth, spawn furiously and then die - unless killed by bears first! But the star of this story is a silver-scaled salmon that's swimming against the current, more than just literally, and leaping beyond its pre-destined fate. It's a story of growing up, finding freedom and rekindling our long-lost harmony with nature, which is a great moral for today's high-pressure life.
This one has all the trappings of an Aesop fable: a bored seagull tired of squawking and squabbling over food and a wise old gull that teaches him an important lesson. Jonathan - aforementioned bored seagull - is filled with an indefatigable desire to take to the skies when he befriends Chiang, who teaches him that the secret is to "begin by knowing that you have already arrived." The lessons to learn here are about love, kindness and transcendence.
3. ANIMAL FARM (George Orwell)
This one's a golden oldie, but as a fable for the modern era, and a political one at that, there are some great lessons to be learnt from the creatures on this satirical farm. It starts with certain animals overthrowing their human farm owners. But as time goes on, the anthropomorphisation and eventual devolving of the perfect society the animals create offer a valuable lesson in how governments work. Particularly chilling is the change of the farm's Seven Commandments of Animalism, the most important of which is 'All animals are equal', to 'All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others'.
4. THE LITTLE PRINCE (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)
A modern classic, this is a tale that has been retold again and again, most recently in Aamir Khan's PK. The story of discovery and coming to terms with the many quirks of what can only be called the human condition is illuminating and touching. But, most of all, this is a story for all ages to really question what we believe in and why, highlighting the beauty and wonder of childhood innocence unlike any other and showing us why we shouldn't ever 'grow up'.
5. THE ALCHEMIST (Paulo Coelho)
"When you really want something to happen, the whole universe will conspire so that your wish comes true." We couldn't have stated the lesson in this endearing tale any clearer. It's a motif that plays constantly as Santiago, the book's central protagonist, travels to Egypt, following his Personal Legend - what you have always wanted to accomplish. But it's the Alchemist's words that hit home the hardest, when he explains to Santiago that it's not about looking for the treasure of the Personal Legend, but finding your Personal Legend instead. Will we be able to find our own today?

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