THE continued success of the "Jataka Tales," as retold and published ten years ago, has led to this second and companion volume. Who that has read or told stories to children has not been lured on by the subtle flattery of their cry for "more"?
Dr. Felix Adler, in his Foreword to "Jataka Tales," says that long ago he was "captivated by the charm of the Jataka Tales." Little children have not only felt this charm, but they have discovered that they can read the stories to themselves. And so "More Jataka Tales" were found in the volume translated from the Sanskrit into English by a group of Cambridge scholars and published by the University Press.
The Jataka tales, regarded as historic in the Third Century B. C., are the oldest collection of folk-lore extant. They come down to us from that dim far-off time when our forebears told tales around the same hearth fire on the roof of the world. Professor Rhys Davids speaks of them as "a priceless record of the childhood of our race. The same stories are found in Greek, Latin, Arabic, Persian, and in most European languages. The Greek versions of the Jataka tales were adapted and ascribed to the famous storyteller, Aesop, and under his name handed down as a continual feast for the children in the West,--tales first invented to please and instruct our far-off cousins in the East." Here East, though East, meets West!
A "Guild of Jataka Translators," under Professor E. B. Cowell, professor of Sanskrit in the University of Cambridge, brought out the complete edition of the Jataka between 1895 and 1907. It is from this source that "Jataka Tales" and "More Jataka Tales" have been retold.
Of these stories, spread over Europe through literary channels, Professor Cowell says, "They are the stray waifs of literature, in the course of their long wanderings coming to be recognized under widely different aspects, as when they are used by Boccaccio, or Chaucer, or La Fontaine."