From Aesop to Reynard: Beast Literature in Medieval Britain

From Aesop to Reynard: Beast Literature in Medieval Britain

by Jill Mann
     
 

What do stories about animals have to tell us about human beings? This book analyzes the shrewd perceptions about human life - and especially human language - that emerge from narratives in which the main figures are 'talking animals'. Its guiding question is not 'what' but 'how' animals mean. Using this question to draw a clear distinction between beast fable and

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Overview

What do stories about animals have to tell us about human beings? This book analyzes the shrewd perceptions about human life - and especially human language - that emerge from narratives in which the main figures are 'talking animals'. Its guiding question is not 'what' but 'how' animals mean. Using this question to draw a clear distinction between beast fable and beast epic, it goes on to examine the complex variations of these forms that are to be found in the literature of medieval Britain, in English, French, Latin, and Scots. The range, variety, and brilliant inventiveness of this tradition are demonstrated in chapters on the fables of Marie de France, the Speculum stultorum of Nigel of Longchamp (the comic adventures of a donkey), the debate poem The Owl and the Nightingale, Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls and the tales of the Squire, Manciple and Nun's Priest, the Reynardian tale of The Fox and the Wolf, and the Moral Fabillis of Robert Henryson. English translations provided for all quotations make the works discussed accessible to the modern reader.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199217687
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
01/11/2010
Pages:
448
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Jill Mann took her B.A. from St Anne's College, Oxford, and her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. After a year teaching at the University of Kent at Canterbury, she took up a Fellowship at Girton College, Cambridge, where she later became Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English. In 1999 she resigned from Cambridge in order to take up an endowed chair at the University of Notre Dame, where she remained until her retirement in 2004. She is the author of Chaucer and Medieval Estates Satire (1973) and Feminizing Chaucer (2002), and has edited The Canterbury Tales (in the original Middle English) for Penguin Classics (2005). Her long-standing interest in medieval beast literature bore fruit in her dual-language edition of the Latin beast epic Ysengrimus (1987). She is a Fellow of the British Academy, an Honorary Fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford, and a Life Fellow of Girton College, Cambridge.

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