Jill Mann

in From Aesop to Reynard

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199217687
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191712371 | DOI:

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The Introduction provides a concise survey of the historical development of beast literature in western Europe, which will serve as background for later chapters. It traces the medieval tradition of beast fable from its origins in the late Roman writer Phaedrus (first century ad), and Avianus (fourth/fifth century ad), through later Latin adaptations and expansions, to translation into the vernacular languages of Europe. In contrast to the venerable ancestry of fable, beast epic is a purely medieval creation: some of its narrative material can be glimpsed in short animal‐poems dating back to the Carolingian period, but its real starting point is the Ysengrimus (1148 × 1152), which gave rise to the French Roman de Renart and other vernacular epics, making Reynard a household name. A final section deals with the essentially independent tradition of bestiaries.

Keywords: beast fable; beast epic; bestiaries; Phaedrus; Ysengrimus; Roman de Renart

Chapter.  17657 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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