Reynard the Fox: Cultural Metamorphoses and Social Engagement in the Beast Epic from the Middle Ages to the Present

Reynard the Fox: Cultural Metamorphoses and Social Engagement in the Beast Epic from the Middle Ages to the Present

Reynard the Fox: Cultural Metamorphoses and Social Engagement in the Beast Epic from the Middle Ages to the Present

Reynard the Fox: Cultural Metamorphoses and Social Engagement in the Beast Epic from the Middle Ages to the Present

Synopsis

There are many stories featuring the villainous hero Reynard the Fox in many languages told over many centuries, goingback as far as the early 12th century. All these stories are comic and much of the humour depends on parody and satire resulting in mockery, sometimes the subversion of certain kinds of serious literature, of political and religious institutions and practices, of scholarly argument and moralizing, and of popular beliefs and customs. The contributors to this volume, all of them experts in one or more of the Reynard stories and their backgrounds, focus on the transformation of these tales through various media and to what extent they reflect differences in the cultural, class, and generational background of their tellers.

Excerpt

The fox we call Reynard has had a long life and has wandered far and wide in the world of fiction. At the beginning he was a high-ranking baron in the Animal Kingdom where he served, when it suited him, the Lion-King. Even in his early days he travelled considerable distances across numerous boundaries, often leaving behind him offspring whose descendants lived through stirring times, adapting their name to the language of the new culture which they had made their own, adjusting to new religious creeds and political systems, practising numerous professions and fitting into different social classes as they and their new masters (poets and storytellers, critics and commentators) thought fit.

Reynard saw the light of day, it seems, in Ghent in 1149 or thereabouts. Although this was then, as now, in Dutch-speaking territory, his first words were in Latin and he was known as Reinardus. From Ghent he travelled in the 1170s into Frenchspeaking lands where he was called Renart. At that time the French for a fox was goupil, and he was Renart le goupil, Renart being his personal name just as Noble was that of the lion (Noble le lion), and Fière that of the lioness. His immense popularity in medieval France was to bring about, eventually, the death of the word goupil and its replacement by renard. About twenty years later, in the 1190s, he turned up in Alsace with the name Reinhart, but soon he returned to Flanders and, as Reynaert, spoke Dutch. While he lingered there, one of his French descendants made an excursion, at the end of the thir-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.