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Page:The Pentamerone, or The Story of Stories.djvu/22

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xiv
PREFACE.

free translation, but to render the Pentamerone as exactly, and at the same time as German as possible, without injuring too much the peculiar colouring of the work."

In close fidelity to the original the present version follows the same plan as that of Mr. Liebrecht, but I have purposely avoided substituting an English for the Neapolitan dress; thus in all metaphors, proverbs, and even idioms, as far as was admissible, I have adhered to the original. The colouring ought, in my opinion, to correspond to the form; and the modes of thought, the turns of expression, and above all the proverbs,—those exponents of a people's character and mind,—contain a distinctive impress, and are on that account valuable. In the popular stories of Germany we feel this peculiarly, since both the language and the tales themselves spring from the soil, and indicate its nature. In Basile's stories, the very uncertainty of their origin—of the design of the picture—in my opinion imparts the greater value to the colouring given to them, and this is national and characteristic.

The reader will observe that each of the four first Days of the Pentamerone concludes with an Eclogue, or dialogue between two of the Prince's servants, given in imitation of the Canzone which concludes each Day in the Decamerone. These it would be almost impossible to translate, and, having no connection with the stories, they are here omitted. Their versification has great merit.

The Pentamerone contains fifty stories, of which I have given thirty. The gross license in which Basile allowed his