Chapter

Henryson: the Epicized Fable

Jill Mann

in From Aesop to Reynard

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199217687
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191712371 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199217687.003.0008
Henryson: the Epicized Fable

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This chapter discusses the Morall Fabillis of the Scots writer Robert Henryson, which, unusually, include narratives derived from the Reynardian tradition alongside the traditional Aesopic material. Henryson is also unusual in the elaboration of his fable narratives, which are full of lively dialogue and realistic detail, and in the length and impassioned tone of his moralitates. Despite breaking the ‘rules’ of beast fable in these ways, Henryson manages to conclude his narratives in a way that turns epic ‘game’ back into fable ‘earnest’; as in traditional fable, verbal elaboration is replaced by harsh physical reality. The concluding section considers Henryson's position as narrator, showing his implicit recognition that his own rhetoric is potentially as redundant as that of his animals.

Keywords: Henryson, Roman de Renart; Aesopic fable; game and earnest; rhetoric; narrator; moralitates

Chapter.  24231 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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