September 27, 2006 7:12 AM   Subscribe

I would like to find more little stories like these -

Do you know any other stories like these? Website/Link? Know what this type of story is called so I can Google more effectively?

Thank you!

>Like this one:

(Heard from 'John Locke' on the TV show 'Lost')

Ludovico Buonarroti was Michelangelo's father. He was a wealthy man. He had no understanding of the divinity in his son, so he beat him. No child of his was going to use his hands for a living. So Michelangelo learned not to use his hands.

Years later, a visiting Prince came into Michelangelo's studio and found the master staring at a single 18-foot block of marble. Then he knew the rumors were true... that Michelangelo had come into his studio every day for the past four months, only stared at the marble, and then gone home for his supper. So the Prince asked the obvious, "What are you doing?" And Michelangelo turned around, looked at the Prince and whispered, "Sto lavorando". "I'm working."

Three years later, that block of marble was the Statue of David.

>And like this one:

(Translated from French)

To a little boy, who contemplates it in a zoo, a hyena says: "If you take me home for tea, I will transform myself into a princess." The little boy invites it, offers tea and gifts to her. Then, the hyena acknowledges piteously: "It is not true that I can transform myself into a princess.", "I knew it ", said the little boy and, without asking questions, they leave to the small happiness from which are born the large ones.
posted by LadyBonita to Writing & Language (18 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like Paul Harvey, now for the rest of the story....
posted by JJ86 at 7:22 AM on September 27, 2006

I would say these could both be considered parables 'short narratives that illustrate moral, philosophical or spiritual lessons:' although the presence of the talking hyena makes the second one more like a fable.
posted by misteraitch at 7:26 AM on September 27, 2006

Yes, I had thought Parable as well. But it seems the only parables I can find on-line are the religious/spiritual ones (which I am not interested in). So hopefully someone can post some other stories or perhaps provide some links.
posted by LadyBonita at 7:35 AM on September 27, 2006

Oscar Wilde's 6 Poems in Prose are in the style that you're looking for. (You'll have to scroll down the page a bit to get to them).
posted by Iridic at 7:36 AM on September 27, 2006

Or also Franz Kafka's short works.
posted by Marquis at 7:39 AM on September 27, 2006

Borges is another master of the short allegory. "The Two Kings and the Two Labyrinths" is a good example.
posted by Iridic at 7:44 AM on September 27, 2006

Not exactly what you're looking for, but I bet you'd like Barry Yourgrau. My favorite is The Sadness of Sex.

And, since I memorized this story as a young'n and have never forotten it:

A young Turkish gardener said to his Prince, "Save me, for I saw Death this morning while walking through the garden and he gave me a threatening look. I wish tonight, by some miracle, I could be far away in Ispahan."

The Prince leant him his swiftest horse.

That afternoon, the Prince came face to face with Death and asked him, "Why did you give my gardener a threatening look?"

"It was not a threatening look," said Death. "It was a look of surprise. For I saw him here this morning and I knew I would take him in Ispahan tonight."


It's by Jean Cocteau and was written in the 20s, if I remember correctly. It's in Alberto Manguel's excellent collection Black Water (though the book itself does not meet the parameters of your search).
posted by dobbs at 7:57 AM on September 27, 2006

Do you mean a Koan?
posted by jozxyqk at 8:30 AM on September 27, 2006

The Tao of Programming contains lots of this.

A manager asked a programmer how long it would take him to finish the program on which he was working. ``It will be finished tomorrow,' the programmer promptly replied.

``I think you are being unrealistic,' said the manager, ``Truthfully, how long will it take?'

The programmer thought for a moment. ``I have some features that I wish to add. This will take at least two weeks,' he finally said.

``Even that is too much to expect,' insisted the manager, ``I will be satisfied if you simply tell me when the program is complete.'

The programmer agreed to this.

Several years later, the manager retired. On the way to his retirement luncheon, he discovered the programmer asleep at his terminal. He had been programming all night.
posted by unixrat at 8:36 AM on September 27, 2006

O. Henry's The Gift of the Magi seems to fit.
posted by yogurtisgenocide at 8:58 AM on September 27, 2006

dobbs: Your story is better known to me as the "Appointment in Samara."
posted by GaelFC at 9:14 AM on September 27, 2006

Again with the Paul Harvey. There were several books of his stories. I own one and read from it to my children.

And just to be clear, The Rest of the Story tales are all written by Paul Harvey, Jr, the radio host's son.
posted by kc0dxh at 9:45 AM on September 27, 2006

It occurs to me that Wilson Wilson, the neighbor character in Home Improvement had many such tales. I love practical application of history. There's such a richness. Most people walk through life looking only at themselves and how things affect them. How much better to learn of the past and see the patterns in contemporary life.
posted by kc0dxh at 9:48 AM on September 27, 2006

GaelFC, O'Hara's book is based on the same fable/story. The version I had to memorize predates the O'Hara by 10 or more years but you're probably right that it's a more familiar version and a film is actually in preproduction right now.
posted by dobbs at 9:51 AM on September 27, 2006

Charles Baudelaire's Prose Poems can be very like the examples you gave. I'm having trouble finding the text online, but Lets Beat up the Poor!, To Each His Monster, The Generous Gambler and The Gallant Marksman all have the same feel with a more brutal conclusion.
posted by Ohdemah at 10:12 AM on September 27, 2006

Richard Bartle's fabulous 'The So Book Of Spoons' contains 29 stories aimed at children aged 6-9. His website explains all. I could imagine Locke retelling any one of them.
posted by Glum at 12:53 PM on September 27, 2006

I want to thank everyone who took the time to answer. I look forward to checking out all the links, author's and stories.
posted by LadyBonita at 2:38 PM on September 27, 2006

Richard Feynman has a similar story. He fixes radios by thinking! .

And there's a nother one of Chuag Tzu drawing a crab. (scroll down)
posted by dhruva at 5:32 PM on September 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

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