The Crab and Its Daughter book cover

The Crab and Its Daughter

"The Crab and Its Daughter" is a moralistic fable written by Jean de La Fontaine. The story revolves around a mother crab and her daughter, with the mother constantly reprimanding her daughter for walking sideways instead of forwards. The daughter points out that the mother also walks the same way, which should lead her to change herself first before criticizing others. This tale teaches the lesson about the importance of setting a good example and refraining from hypocrisy.

Genre: Fable

Sages are often, like the crabs, inclined To backward step, and leave their goal behind. This is the sailor's art, and, now and then, The artifice of deep, designing men, Who feign the opposite of their intent, To put their adversaries off the scent. My subject is a trifle; but how wide The field on which its morals may be tried! Some general may conquer, should he heed it, An army with a hundred chiefs to lead it. His plans of march and counter-march may be At first a secret, then a victory. No use in prying, when he would conceal; From Fate's decrees one cannot make appeal. The tide grows insurmountable, at length; Against a Jove the gods may waste their strength. Louis and Fate seem partners now, in glory, And draw the world along. But to my story. Said Mother Crab to Daughter Crab, one day, "How can you step in such an ugly way? Do try to go a little straighter, dear!" The little Crab made answer, with a sneer, "Look at yourself! It's very well to talk, But it was you who taught me how to walk: From you, and from your friends, I took my gait; If they go crooked, how can I go straight?" She told the truth--for lessons that we learn From family examples last the longest. They teach us good and evil, in its turn; And oft the latter lessons are the strongest. As to the way of walking, let me add, That turning backs has often merit in it In war, for instance, it is far from bad, If people do it at the proper minute.
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Jean de La Fontaine

Jean de La Fontaine was a renowned French fabulist and one of the most famous poets during the French classical period. He was born on July 8, 1621, and died on April 13, 1695. Known for his literary style, he is best known for his "Fables", which are considered classics of French literature. His works were marked by his sophisticated style and moral substance, and his fables provided a scathing critique of French society during his time. more…

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