Amidst invention and reality, irony and pragmatism, illusion and disillusion, “The Fable of the Bees”, written by Mandeville (1670-1733), important figure of the English Enlightenment, and published in the first years of the1700s, couldn't be more contemporary.
This 'stinging' fable (originally written in rhyme) is presented in “The Golden Hive” in a colloquial American English prose interpretation and is further embellished with rare epochal illustrations in which human industriousness takes on a leading role equal to that of the bees.
Mandeville's world is one of pure metaphor in which human society takes on the guise of an imaginary hive created for the purpose of argument, pitting the moral optimism of those who (still today) live in the illusion that individuals are born with a spontaneous predisposition to virtue goodness and morality.
Mandeville counter-poses faith in a natural harmony capable of creating a collective well-being (wealth) with a realistic vision, well-penned by the same author in the fable's subtitle 'Private vices, Public benefits' to demonstrate how pride, ambition, and avarice can contribute to the positive functioning and growth of a civilized society. Further points for reflection are supplied in a successive “Preface” which, even if written three centuries ago, could well describe contemporary society.
In a tour of nature and tastes, the work concludes with an homage to the beauty of the hive; with its elaborate organization it has provided many products (honey in the lead) which have always been a part of human lives. The complex efficiency and incredible perfection of the life of bees is brought to light with epochal illustrations, anecdotes and suggestions.