BABRIUS . traced to the
See also:History of Reynard the
See also:Fox . This
See also:great beast-epic has been referred by
See also:Grimm as far back as the loth century, and is known to us in three forms, each with
See also:independent episodes, but all
See also:woven upon a
See also:common basis . The Latin
See also:form is probably the earliest, and the poems Reinardus and Ysengrinus date from the roth or rrth century . Next come the German versions . The most
See also:ancient, that of a minnesinger Heinrich der Glichesaere (probably a Swabian), was analysed and edited by Grimm in 1840 . The French poem of more than 30,000 lines, the
See also:Roman du Renard, belongs probably to the 13th century . In 1498 appeared Reynke de Voss, .almost a literal version in Low Saxon of the Flemish poem of the 12th century, Reinaert de Vos . Hence the well-known version of Goethe into
See also:modern German hexameters was taken . The poem has been well named " an unholy
See also:world Bible." In it the Aesopian
See also:fable received a development which was in several respects quite
See also:original . We have here no
See also:short and unconnected stories . Materials, partly borrowed from older apologues, but in a much greater proportion new, are worked up into one long and systematic
See also:tale .
The moral, so prominent in the fable proper, shrinks so far into the background, that the epic might be considered a
See also:work of pure fiction, an animal
See also:romance . The attempts to discover in it
See also:personal satire have signally failed; some critics deny even the design to represent human conduct at all; and we can scarcely get nearer to its signification than by regarding it as being, in a general way, what Carlyle has called " a parody of human
See also:life." It represents a contest maintained successfully, by selfish craft and audacity, against enemies of all sorts, in a
See also:half-barbarous and
See also:ill-organized society . With his weakest foes, like Chaunteclere the
See also:Cock, Reynard uses brute-force; over the weak who are protected, like Kiward the Hare and Belin the Ram, he is victorious by uniting violence with cunning; Bruin, the dull, strong, formidable Bear, is humbled by having greater power than his own enlisted against him; and the most dangerous of all the fox's enemies, Isengrim, the obstinate, greedy and implacable
See also:Wolf, after being baffled by repeated strokes of malicious ingenuity, forces Reynard to a single combat, but even thus is not a match for his dexterous adversary . The knavish fox has
See also:allies worthy of him in Grimbart the watchful
See also:badger, and in his own aunt
See also:Dame Rukenawe, the learned She-
See also:ape; and he plays at his pleasure on the
See also:simple credulity of the Lion-
See also:King, the image of an impotent feudal
See also:sovereign . The characters of these and other brutes are kept up with a
See also:rude kind of consistency, which gives them great liveliness; many of the incidents are devised with much force of
See also:humour; and the sly hits at the weak points of
See also:medieval polity and
See also:manners and religion are incessant and palpable . It is needless to trace the fable, or illustrations borrowed from fables, that so frequently occur as incidental ornaments in the older literature of England and other countries . It has appeared in every modern nation of
See also:Europe, but has nowhere become very important, and has hardly ever exhibited much originality either of spirit or of manner . In
See also:Prior transplanted from France some of La Fontaine's ease of narration and artful artlessness, while Gay took as his
See also:model the Conies rather than the Fables., Gay's fables are often
See also:political satires, but some, like the Fox on his Deathbed, have the true
See also:ring, and in the Hare with many Friends there is genuine pathos . To
See also:Dryden's spirited remodellings of old poems, romances and fabliaux, the name of fables, which he was pleased to give them, is quite inapplicable . In German,
See also:Hagedorn and Gellert, both famous in their
See also:day and the latter extolled by Goethe, are quite forgotten; and even Lessing's fables are read by few but schoolboys . In
See also:Spanish, Yriarte's fables on
See also:literary subjects are sprightly and graceful, but the critic is more than the fabulist . A spirited version of the best appeared in
See also:Magazine, 1839 .
Among Italians Pignotti is famous for versatility and command ofrhythm, as amongst Russians is Kriloff for his keen satire on
See also:Russian society . He has been translated into English by Ralston . France alone in modern times has attained any pre-
See also:eminence in the fable, and this distinction is almost entirely owing to one author .
See also:Marie de France in the 13th century, Gilles Corrozet, Guillaume Haudent and Guillaume Gueroult in the 16th, are now studied mainly as the precursors of La Fontaine, from whom he may have borrowed a stray hint or the outline of a
See also:story . The unique character of his work has given a new word to the French language: other writers of fables are called fabulistes, La Fontaine is named le fablier . He is a true poet; his
See also:verse is exquisitely modulated; his love of nature often reminds us of Virgil, as do his tenderness and pathos (see, for instance, The Two Pigeons and
See also:Death and the Woodcutter) . He is full of sly fun and delicate humour; like Horace he satirizes without wounding, and " plays around the heart." Lastly, he is a keen observer of men . The whole society of the 17th century, its greatness and its foibles, its luxury and its squalor, from Le
See also:grand monarque to the poor manant, from his
See also:majesty the lion to the courtier of an ape, is painted to the life . To
See also:borrow his own phrase, La Fontaine's fables are " une ample comedie a cent actes
See also:Rousseau did his best to discredit the Fables as immoral and corruptors of youth, but in spite of Emile they are studied in every French school and are more
See also:familiar to most Frenchmen than their breviary . Among the successors of La Fontaine the. most distinguished is Florian . He justly estimates his own merits in the
See also:pretty apologue that he prefixed to his Fables . He asks a
See also:sage whether a fabulist writing after La Fontaine would not be wise to consign his work to the flames .
The sage replies by a question: " What would you say did some sweet, ingenuous Maid ofAthens refuse to let herself be seen because there was once a
See also:Helen of Troy ? " The fables of Lessing represent the reaction against the French school of fabulists . " With La Fontaine himself," says Lessing, " I have no
See also:quarrel, but against the imitators of La Fontaine I enter my protest." His
See also:attention was first called to the fable by Gellert's popular work published in 1746 . Gellert's fables were closely modelled after La Fontaine's, and were a vehicle for lively railings against the
See also:fair sex, and hits at contemporary follies . Lessing's early essays were in the same
See also:style, but his subsequent study of the history and theory of the fable led him to discard his former model as a perversion of later times, and the " Fabeln," published in 1759, are the outcome of his riper views . Lessing's fables, like all that he wrote, display his vigorous common sense . He has, it is true, little of La Fontaine's curiosa felicitas, his sly humour and lightness of
See also:touch; and Frenchmen would say that his
See also:criticism of La Fontaine is an
See also:illustration of the fable of the sour grapes . On the other
See also:hand, he has the rare power of looking at both sides of a moral problem; he holds a brief for the stupid and the feeble, the ass and the lamb; and in spite of his formal protest against poetical
See also:ornament, thereis in not a few of his fables a vein of true
See also:poetry, as in the
See also:Sheep (ii . 13) and
See also:Jupiter and the Sheep (ii . 18) . But the monograph which introduced the Fabeln is of more inportance than the fables themselves . According to Lessing the ideal fable is that of
See also:Aesop .
All the elaborations and refinements of later authors, from
See also:Phaedrus to La Fontaine, are perversions of this original . The fable is essentially a moral
See also:precept illustrated by a single example, and it is the lesson thus enforced which gives to the fable its unity and makes it a work of
See also:art . The illustration must be either an actual occurrence or represented as such, because a fictitious case invented ad hoc can
See also:appeal but feebly to the reader's
See also:judgment . Lastly, the fable requires a story or connected chain of events . A single fact will not make a fable, but is only an emblem . We thus arrive at the following definition:—" , A fable is a relation of a series of changes which together form a ,whole . The unity of the fable consists herein, that all the parts lead up to an end, the end for which the fable was invented being the moral precept." We may
See also:notice in passing a problem in connexion with the fable which had long been debated, but never satisfactorily resolved till Lessing took it in hand—Why should animals have been almost universally chosen as the chief dramatis personae ? The reason, according to Lessing, is that animals have distinct characters which are known and recognized by all . The fabulist who writes of
See also:Britannicus and
See also:Nero appeals to the few who know Roman history . The Wolf and the Lamb comes home to every one whether learned or simple . But, besides this,human sympathies obscure the moral judgment; hence it follows that the fable, unlike the drama and the epos, should abstain, from all that is likely to arouse our prejudices or our passions . In this respect the Wolf and the Lamb of Aesop is a more perfect fable than the
See also:Rich Man and the Poor Man's
See also:Ewe Lamb of Nathan .
Lessing'sanalysis and definition of the fable, though he seems himself unconscious of the
See also:scope of his
See also:argument, is in truth its death-
See also:warrant . The beast-fable arose in a
See also:primitive age when men firmly believed that beasts could talk and reason, that any wolf they met might be a were-wolf, that a
See also:peacock might be a Pythagoras in disguise, and an ox or even a cat a being worthy of their worship . To this succeeded the second age of the fable, which belongs to the same stage of culture as the
See also:proverbs and the gnomic poets of
See also:Greece . That honesty is the best policy, that death is common to all, seemed to the men of that day profound truths worthy to be embalmed in verse or set off by the aid of story or anecdote . Last comes an age of high literary culture which tolerates the trite morals and hackneyed tales for the
See also:sake of the exquisite setting, and is amused at the wit which introduces topics and characters of the day under the transparent veil of animal life . Such an artificial product can be nothing more than the fashion of a day,. and must, like pastoral poetry, die a natural death . A serious moralist would hardly choose that form to inculcate, like Mandeville in his Fable of the Bees, a new
See also:doctrine in morals, for the moral of the fable must be such that he who runs may read . A true poet will not care to masquerade as amoral teacher, or show his wit by refurbishing some old-world
See also:maxim . Yet
See also:Taine in France,
See also:Lowell in
See also:America, and J . A .
See also:Froude in England have proved that the fable as one form of literature js not yet
See also:extinct, and is capable of new and unexpected developments . BIataoGRAPHY .
Pantschatantrum, ed . Kosegarten (
See also:Bonn, 1848) ; Hitapadesa, ed . Max
See also:Muller (1864) ;
See also:Silvestre de Sacy, Calilah et Dimna, ou Fables de
See also:Bidpai, en Arabe, precedees d'un memoire sur l'origine de ce livre (
See also:Paris, 1816), translated by the Rev . Wyndham Knatchbull (
See also:Oxford, 1819) ;
See also:Comparetti, Ricerche interne at Libro di Sindebdd (Milan, 1869); Max Muller, "
See also:Migration of Fables," Chips from a German Workshop, vol. iv . (1875); Keller, Untersuchungen fiber die Geschichte der griechischen Fabel (
See also:Leipzig, 1862); Babrius, ed . W . G . Rutherford, with excursus on Greek fables (1883); L . Hervieux,
See also:Les Fabulistes latins (1884); Jakob Grimm, Reinhart Fuchs (Berlin, 1834) ; A . C . M . Robert, Fables inedites
See also:des XIP, XIII' et XLVe siecles, &c .
(Paris, 1825); Taine, Essai sur les fables de La Fontaine (1853);
See also:Saint-Marc Girardin, La Fontaine et les fabulistes (Paris, 1867) . (F .
BABOON (from the Fr. babuin, which is itself derive...
There are no comments yet for this article.
Do not copy, download, transfer, or otherwise replicate the site content in whole or in part.
Links to articles and home page are encouraged.