President Trump & the Judges

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“I expected this to be an uneventful few weeks,” Sally Yates said, of her role as the acting Attorney General. Instead, she was embroiled in two of the biggest controversies of Trump’s early Presidency. PHOTOGRAPH BY CHIP SOMODEVILLA / GETTY

On 26 January 2017, the acting Attorney General of the United States, Sally Yates, expected an “uneventful few weeks.” President Trump had just been inaugurated and usually Presidents of the United States do not infringe upon the laws of the land. By and large, human beings expect what I will call “normal” circumstances. However, Ms Yates soon informed the President that United States Army Lieutenant-General Michael Flynn  “was vulnerable to blackmail by Russia.”

Our Interview with Sally Yates on the Russia Investigation – The New Yorker

“I expected this to be an uneventful few weeks,” Yates said, of her role minding the Justice Department until Jeff Sessions was confirmed by the Senate. Instead, she was embroiled in two of the biggest controversies of Trump’s early Presidency. On January 26th, Yates informed the White House that Michael Flynn, then the national-security adviser, was vulnerable to blackmail by Russia. Four days later, she wrote in a letter to Justice Department lawyers that she was not convinced the travel ban was lawful.

In the photograph below, taken in 2015, Lieutenant-General Michael Flynn is sitting next to Russian President Vladimir Putin. That Russia had interfered with the United States Presidential election, held on 8 November 2016, was common knowledge almost as soon as the votes were counted, but talks began earlier. (See Michael T. Flynn, Wikipedia.)

2015_RT_gala_dinner_in_Moscow,_general_Flynn_next_to_President_Putin

In December 2015, Flynn and Jill Stein attended RT’s (Russia Today) 10th anniversary gala. Flynn is sitting next to Vladimir Putin during the dinner. (Caption and Photo credit: Wikipedia)

President Trump failed to take seriously Sally Yates’ findings seriously. In fact, on 27 January 2017, he complicated his relationship with the acting Attorney General by issuing Executive Order 13769, a travel ban affecting seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, but not Saudi Arabia, where President Trump just travelled. Executive Order 13769 provoked anger and indignation among Muslims and the more tolerant citizens of the United States, but it was a violation of the American Constitution.  As a result, a temporary restraining order saved the day. More consequential, however, was the Russian connection: heads fell, so to speak.

Dismissals

Sally Yates, 24 January – 30 January 2017
Michael T. Flynn, 20 January – 13 February 2017
James Comey, 4 September 2013 – 9 May 2017

Sally Yates was dismissed on 30 January 2017. Yet, she was the acting Attorney General of the United States. As for Michael T. Flynn’s tenure as national security advisor, it lasted 24 days. Mr Flynn was in office from 20 January 2017 until 13 February 2017 (see Michael T. Flynn, Wikipedia), which takes us to James Comey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation who broke with protocol by reöpening the investigation into Mrs Clinton’s emails on the eve of the November 2016 United States Presidential election and may still have been examining Mrs Clinton’s email when he was fired, on 9 May 2017. It is as though President Donald Trump were dismissing the ‘judges.’

The Russian Connection

Dismissing the judges? Not quite. Mr Comey was merely investigating possible collusion between Michael Flynn and Russia. At any rate, there was a private dinner at which President Trump asked for James Comey’s “loyalty.” President Trump wanted Mr Comey to “let this go,” ‘this’ being his investigation into Michael T. Flynn and Russia. Not only did Mr Comey continue investigating the Russian connection, but he also kept notes of his conversations with Mr Trump and prepared thoroughly for his meetings with the President.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/comey-prepared-extensively-for-his-conversations-with-trump/2017/05/18/e53b1734-3bf1-11e7-a058-ddbb23c75d82_story.html?tid=pm_world_pop&utm_term=.608c5611148d

Behind Closed Doors

Given allegations of meddling in the 8 November 2016 United States Presidential election; given also that the President fired Mr Comey on 9 May 2017, why did President Trump meet behind closed doors with Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov, and Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak on 10 May 2017?

The strange Oval Office meeting between Trump, Lavrov and Kislyak – The Washington Post, right, meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the White House on May 10. (Russian Foreign Ministry via Associated Press)

The Investigation

The Justice Department has therefore appointed former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller, Mr James Comey’s predecessor as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr Mueller has been asked to conduct a thorough inquiry into the Russian connection, including possible interference in the 8 November 2016 American Presidential elections. Will President Trump also dismiss former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller? There is a pattern. President Trump dismisses the judges.

For instance, President Trump has given his daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, too important a role. There has not been a significant public outcry, at least not in the United States. She is the first daughter. However, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has used the word “nepotism” with respect to Ivanka’s prominence in President Trump’s administration. Moreover, during President Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Jared Kushner negotiated a $110B Saudi arms deal.

https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/04/29/german-minister-calls-out-ivanka-trump-nepotism/22061514/

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/19/politics/jared-kushner-saudi-arms-deal-lockheed-martin/index.html

So one wonders. Will Mr Mueller be the judge of President Trump, or President Trump, the judge of Mr Mueller? I think Mr Mueller will be the investigator and ‘judge,’ and that no one will manipulate his findings.

It has all been so strange that I must close and return to Reynard the Fox after a long, unavoidable and unintentional interruption. I apologize.

Love to everyone ♥ 

Bach – “G Minor” (Luo Ni)

Robert S. Mueller (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
22 May 2017
WordPress

The Faerie Queene, an Epic Poem

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The_Immaculate_Conception,_by_Giovanni_Battista_Tiepolo,_from_Prado_in_Google_EarthThe Immaculate Conception by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, painted between 1767 and 1768 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An Epic Poem

  • an allegory
  • the fantastical (faeries)
  • chilvalry

The Faerie Queene is an incomplete epic poem written by Edmund Spenser (1552/1553 – 13 January 1599), and first published in 1590. Spencer was born in London, but he was acquainted with Irish Faerie mythology. Faeries are legendary and mostly composite figures. In Beast Literature, these figures are referred to as les hybrides or zoomorphic. The image above, by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (5 March 1696 – 27 March  1770), features a zoomorphic serpent and putti (little angels), composite figures.

Due to its length, The Faerie Queene is an epic poem, but it is not a mock epic. Reynard the Fox is a mock epic as well as anthropomorphic. Its dramatis personae consists of talking animals. As for the The Faerie Queene, it is allegorical. Its Knights each represent a virtue, virtues taught in the Trivium and the Quadrivium. The Faerie Queene is also fantastical (le fantastique)and the Quadrivium. The Faerie Queene is also fantastical (le fantastique). Here the French may use the word “le merveilleux”, and in the case of the Faerie Queene, “le merveilleux chrétien.” We may also refer to chivalry. The Faerie Queene features Knights who are allegorical figures. Beneath are illustrations by Walter Crane.

 

The Middle Ages: Allegories, Hagiographies, Education

  • the importance of miracles: faith and hope
  • the seven virtues and education
  • the Liberal Arts (the Trivium and the Quadrivium)

During the Middle Ages, readers loved books about the lives of saints and particularly martyrs: hagiographies and martyrologies. The early and Orthodox Church had catalogues instead of hagiographies. These were: the menaion, the synaxarion and paterikon. As for the Western Church, its most successful hagiography was Jacques de Voragine’s Golden Legend. The faithful enjoyed stories of miracles just as children love fairy tales. A belief in magic and miracles can save one from despair. The same is true of Faith and Hope, two of the theological virtues.

The theological virtues are: Faith, Hope, and Charity. As of the Carolingian Middle Ages, the three theological virtues were associated with the Trivium, the years when students learned grammar, logic, and rhetoric. The four Cardinal virtuesprudence, justice, temperance, and courage, were associated with the Quadrivium when arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy were taught. The subjects taught in the Trivium and the Quadrivium are the original Liberal Arts. Three (Trivium) and four (Quadrivium) are seven (7). There were/are seven virtues and seven deadly sins.

Virtue: Antiquity and the Church or Great Fathers

The currently neglected notion of virtue is a product of Greco-Roman antiquity Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius and the Bible, but it was adopted by the Church Fathers of the Western Church and the Great Fathers of the Eastern Orthodox Church. (See Church Fathers, Wikipedia, scroll down to Great Fathers.)

The Faerie Queene (see Wikipedia) consists of six (6) Books:

  • Book One: the virtue of Holiness as embodied with Red Cross knight;
  • Book Two: on the virtue of Temperance as embodied in Sir Guyon;
  • Book Three: the virtue of Chastity as embodied in Britomart, a lady knight;
  • Book Four: a continuation of book four. A three-day tournament is held. When Britomart lifts her mask, Artegal falls in love with her;
  • Book Five: the virtue of Justice, as embodied in Sir Artegal;
  • Book Six: the virtue of Courtesy as embodied in Sir Calidore.

Comment

Would that current world leaders were familiar with the virtues, temperance, in particular. The Faerie Queene is about the virtues. Each Knight represents a virtue. Under a current leader, we need Faith, Hope, and Charity because he does not exercise the Cardinal virtues. To a certain extent, The Faerie Queene is rooted in Cortegiano’s The Book of the Courtier (1508-1528).

Love to everyone

Alfred Deller sings Purcell‘s Plaint from The Faerie Queene

Tiepolo,_Giovanni_Battista_-_Fresken_Treppenhaus_des_Würzburger_Residenzschlosses,_Szenen_zur_Apotheose_des_Fürstbischofs,_Detail_Giovanni_Ba

Tiepolo (Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
10 May 2017
WordPress

Corporate Media in Heavy Trumpcrush!

When one does not know who used sarin, one does not drop a bomb.

Bryan Hemming

Caricature – Bryan Hemming

Talking about the corporate media – like I so often do –  does anybody in England actually read the papers, or even watch the news on the telly, anymore? If they do, they don’t talk about it much.

Those who bothered to read my last post will know I was in England earlier this year. Sitting down to dinner was like being in one of those old black and white war films set during the German occupation of France. You know, the ones where everybody keeps shtum in case somebody grasses them up to the Gestapo. One thing I learned, while stuffing my face with roast and two veg, was not to mention war of any sort. There, I just mentioned it again. Actually, there were a lot of things not to mention, particularly at meal times. Things like Brexit, Syria and Donald Trump. If anyone slipped one…

View original post 1,656 more words

The New Yorker on the French Election

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After Sunday’s victories for Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, neither of France’s traditional leading parties will have a candidate in a Presidential election for the first time in sixty years. PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI / AFP / GETTY

“The French election is very important to the future of France and the values that we care so much about,” the former President Barack Obama says in a video [at the foot of this post] endorsing the front-runner, Emmanuel Macron. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY EMMANUEL MACRON / TWITTER

The New Yorker

In its recent issues, The New Yorker has published several articles on the French election. I was busy buying a new apartment and wasn’t as vigilant regarding the future of France and of the European Union as I should have been.

Preface by the author of this post

In this analysis, we must think locally and globally. If Marine Le Pen is elected, we could lose Europe to extremists. We cannot do this as we have to put an end to terrorism. If France elects extremist Marine Le Pen, both France and Europe would live the nightmare created by those who believe that keeping immigrants out, or getting rid of them, will stop terrorism. That is not how it works.

Polarization

Extremism feeds polarization, which is a terrible danger and one that may lead to a high degree of division and, possibly, war. Extremists won the American election. Too many people were of the opinion that forbidding Muslims from entering the United States would keep the United States safe.

An appropriate reading of the words “great again” could be that America will not use the money levied through taxation to serve everyone. Besides, Mr Trump has been acting like an autocrat. The United States is a democracy which is how it is great.

Nepotism

I like Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, but their appointment to the highest level of Mr Trump’s administration is nepotism. More importantly, members of Mr Trump’s own family think he must be watched. Mr Trump cannot control his emotions. Yet, as commander-in-chief, he can push the wrong button. I am quoting President Obama.

A forgotten middle class and poverty

Mr Trump’s great America is a country where the poor and the middle-class support the wealthy and where the poor die in pain because they cannot afford the high premiums demanded by Insurance Companies. The Republicans may destroy Obamacare, the Affordable Health Care.

Can Obama’s Hope Sway the French Election

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/can-obamas-hope-sway-the-french-election
Alexandra Schwartz

Former American President Barack Obama has endorsed Monsieur Macron’s candidacy. He knows very well that a Le Pen victory is a loss for France, for Europe, and for the world.

In an article published in The New Yorker, Alexandra Schwartz wonders whether President Obama can sway public opinion in France. That is very difficult. However, Barack Obama’s opinion carries considerable weight. Marine Le Pen wishes to “send them home,” which reminds me that Hitler believed killing Europe’s Jews would save Germany. How naïve! When the poor German nation realized that Hitler had a genocide in mind, it was too late. Dissenters had to kneel down and were shot in the back of the neck.

The Future of Europe hinges on a Face-Off in France

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/05/08/the-future-of-europe-hinges-on-a-face-off-in-france?intcid=popular
Lauren Collins

Fortunately, the United States is located on the other side of the Atlantic. The French, however, live in continental Europe and it is easy to peddle fear. Scaring the people into electing Marine Le Pen could lead to the dissolution of the EU. Europeans need the European Union and so does the world. Power has to be distributed. Poor German Chancellor Angela Merkel would have to negotiate Frexit. Poor German Chancellor Angela Merkel would have to negotiate a Frexit!

Marine Le Pen’s Memoir: a Dutiful Daughter’s sanitizing of far-right Politics

http://www.newyorker.com/books/second-read/marine-le-pens-memoir-a-dutiful-daughters-sanitizing-of-far-right-politics?intcid=popular
Moira Weigel

Vive l’Europe! A Macron win would give the E. U. a Life Line

http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/vive-leurope-a-macron-win-would-give-the-e-u-a-lifeline
John Cassidy

Everyday of the Trump Presidency bring another outrage or embarrassment

Below, I have inserted an article and, perhaps, a video by David Remnick of The New Yorker. It is about President Trump. He’s dangerous, but it would be my opinion that Marine Le Pen is more dangerous.

A Cyber Attack

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3495285/emmanuel-macron-cyber-attack-hacked-emails/

Emmanuel Macron who is expected to be France’s next President was the victim of a cyber attack. What happened during the United States electoral campaign is happening in France. Will hackers sabotage democracy?

I hope sincerely that this will not jeopardize Emmanuel Macron’s candidacy. The attack may be a good sign. Emmanuel Macron was targeted, not Marine Le Pen’s Front national. This may indicate that the hackers believe Monsieur Macron is likely to be the next President of France.

Ne vous trumpez pas !Don’t make a mistake.

Emmanuel Macron is leading …

RELATED ARTICLES

I will say no more.  It’s late, but it’s not too late.

Love to everyone

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/can-obamas-hope-sway-the-french-election

President Obama endorses Emmanuel Macron

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/05/04/obama-endorses-macron-in-french-election-taking-a-side-in-europe-again/?utm_term=.72b714095fc3

Eugène Delacroix (wikiart.org)

© Micheline Walker
7 May 2017
WordPress

 

France on my mind…

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Eugène_Delacroix_-_Le_28_Juillet._La_Liberté_guidant_le_peuple

La Liberté guidant le peuple, Eugène Delacroix, 1830 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Above is Eugène DelacroixLiberty leading the people. Eugène Delacroix is associated with Romanticism. He is, almost undoubtedly, the son of Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, a brilliant aristocrat who survived the French Revolution, was Napoléon’s second-in-command, orchestrated his defeat at Waterloo, and fared well under Louis XVIII, the King of France from 1815 until 1830. 

Sunday, April 23rd and in its last week of campaigning the contest is a toss-up. The race is coming down to four candidates – the far-right Marine Le Pen [Front National], the independent Emmanuel Macron, the centre-right François Fillon and the left-leaning Jean-Luc Mélenchon who has mounted a late-stage comeback to pull within striking distance of the other three.
Análises & Previsões – Blogs de Traders

Le Pen reinforced: Nicolas Dupont-Aignan

As you have just read, last Sunday, it seemed that independent Emmanuel Macron would be the next President of France. Matters have changed. On Friday, 28 April 2017, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, the President of far-right party Debout la France (Stand up France) reached an accord de gouvernement with Madame Le Pen. (See Le Monde.) Members of Madame Le Pen’s Front national could therefore be elected into office. My poor “douce France” (La Chanson de Roland)!

Members of Marine Le Pen’s Front national may have influenced the results of the Brexit referendum, held on 23 June 2016. The Brexit referendum did not indicate a clear willingness among Britons to sever their ties with the European Union. For all practical purposes, half of Britons voted in favour of leaving the EU, and the other half opposed a separation. The results were too close to be acceptable.

We, Canadians, are veterans in the murky territory of referendums. We’ve experienced a 49% versus 51% “victory.” We have therefore eliminated 50% referendums through the Clarity Act. Such 50% referendums show division and in the case of Brexit, a few voters feared the Migrants. That decision had to be “walked back.”

Since migrants began flooding Europe, nativists, i.e. the extreme right, have been given a voice. It is a repli sur soi. In other words, a number of Britons went into fetal position. And the United States elected Donald J. Trump. Britain is the former and foremost colonial power and the United States has welcomed several generations of immigrants from all over the world. It was a symbol of freedom.

At any rate, last Sunday, it seemed that independent Emmanuel Macron would be the next President of France. As you probably know, on Friday, 28 April 2017, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, the President of far-right party Debout la France (Stand up France) reached an accord de gouvernement with Madame Le Pen, the leader of the Front national. (See Le Monde.) This partnership could result in a victory for Marine Le Pen’s Front national, and we could expect a purge, the return of the death penalty, no tolerance of “otherness.” In short, the Age of Enlightenment would seem an error, or a movement, a mere movement. Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, etc. never envisaged 1793, the “populist” Reign of Terror.

Although Madame Le Pen has avoided using the word Frexit recently, Frexit is on her agenda. Brexit was harmful, but Frexit could deal a death-blow to the European Union. Together, European nations are a force. If Frexit occurs, the European Union may be irreversibly weakened and peace in the world threatened. A United Europe is one of the conditions of global peace.

It other words, we cannot allow ISIL to rule the world. A victory based on a fear of terrorism would not be a victory. On the contrary, it would empower extremists, and extremism is always a mistake. One chooses a middle path, Molière’s “modération.”

Marine Le Pen came to Quebec thinking she would have an audience. Not at all! The Québécois birthrate is so low that we need immigrants and they are Canadians as soon as they arrive. The Quebec shooter (29 January 2017) was an admirer of Madame Le Pen and Donald Trump, the newly inaugurated President of the United States. The cost of housing is very high in Canada, but, if Quebec builds affordable homes and I have anything to do with the process, these homes will be for everyone.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/quebec-city-mosque-shooting-what-we-know-so-far/article33826078/

At this point, Marine Le Pen has a chance of being elected to the presidency of France. She’s clever. People may believe she will protect them from terrorist attacks. No! Kindness, acceptance, humility and a smile go a very long way. I’ve inserted an Avaaz video. One has to click on Facebook if need be.

Love to everyone

If necessary, please click on Watch on Facebook ↓ to see the video.

800px-Le_Départ_des_Volontaires_(La_Marseillaise)_par_Rude,_Arc_de_Triomphe_Etoile_Paris

The Marseillais volunteers departing, sculpted on the Arc de Triomphe (Wikipedia)

Hector Berliozla Marseillaise (Rouget de Lisle)

800px-Pils_-_Rouget_de_Lisle_chantant_la_Marseillaise

Claude Joseph Rouget de Lille sings la Marseillaise for the first time by Isidore Pils (1813-1875) (Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
3 May  2017
WordPress

Christians leave the Middle East

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Wright-WarTerrorismandtheChristianExodusfromtheMiddleEast-690St. George Church in Tanta, Egypt, after a suicide bombing on April 9th.
Credit PHOTOGRAPH BY NARIMAN EL-MOFTY / AP

War, Terrorism, and the Christian Exodus from the Middle East, The New Yorker
by Robin Wright (15 April 2017)
Please click on the title to read Robin Wright’s article.

Le Roman de Renart is a mock-epic. It is the underside of the chansons de geste and courtly love. This post excludes courtly literature to concentrate on France’s first and most important chanson de geste, the anonymous Chanson de Roland. Roland, King Charlemagne‘s nephew, and his twelve Paladins were defeated at the Battle of Roncevaux (778). Roland died.

It has been said that the Chanson de Roland is now forgotten. The Internet tells another story. It is still the subject matter of masterpieces of European literature. As we saw in my last post, Roland is Ludovico Ariosto‘s masterpiece Orlando Furioso. The Chanson de Roland may at times have been put aside, but Orlando Furioso has endured and inspired several authors down to this very day. Wikipedia’s entry on Orlando Furioso is a who’s who chronicling the arabisation of North Africa and the decline of Eastern Christianity rooted in the Fall of Constantinople to the Seljuq Turks on 29 May 1453.

The Millet protected Christians under Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, called the Conqueror, but Anatolia was not a Muslim country before the fall of Constantinople. The Ottoman Empire was defeated during World War I and dissolved under the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres.

800px-Orlando_Furioso_20

Ruggiero rescuing Angelica by Gustave Doré (Wikipedia)

260px-Cantigas_battle

A battle of the Reconquista from the Cantigas de Santa Maria (Wikipedia)

El Cantar de Mio Cid is a celebration of the Reconquista. The Moors were in the Iberian Peninsula from 711 until 1492. In literature, el Cid is also Pierre Corneille’s Le Cid (1936). The play was produced shortly after Richelieu founded the Académie-Française. Le Cid, a very successful play, created the first querelle. It violated the rule of the three unities: time (24 hours), action (minimum) and place (single). Rodrigue, Le Cid, succeeds in pushing back thousands of Moors.

The Crusades are the backdrop to Le Roman de Renart. Crusaders aimed to recover the Holy Land from Islamic Rule. (See Crusades, Wikipedia.) Renart talks himself out of a death sentence by claiming he must go to the Near East and expiate before he is put to death.

According to The New Yorker‘s Robin Wright, Christians are leaving the Near East. The Coptic Church was founded in 42 CE (Christian era).

Love to everyone 

combat_deuxic3a8me_croisade

A battle of the Second Crusade (illustration of William of Tyre‘s Histoire d’Outremer, 1337 (Wikipedia)

Sources and Resources 

Cantigas de Santa Maria
Cantiga 10 Rosa des Rosas
Performers: Malandança (Unha noite na corte do rei Alfonso X)

© Micheline Walker
24 April 2017
WordPress

Reynard the Fox: various Facets

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fr_1581_019

http://classes.bnf.fr/renart/arret/02.htm (BnF) 
http://classes.bnf.fr/renart/livre/ (the text) FR 

Beast Epics: Antecedents

  • Beast Fables
  • Beast Epics or “mock-epics”

Given their length and a dramatis personæ consisting of animals, the 12th-century Roman de Renart and its immediate predecessor, Nivardus of Ghent’s Ysengrimus (1148-1149), bring to mind Vishnu Sharma‘s Sanskrit Panchatantra and its best-known Arabic analog, Ibn al-Muqaffa‘s Kalīlah wa Dimnah, but the Ysengrimus and the Roman de Renart are mock-epics, which was new. The Panchatantra and Kalīlah wa Dimnah contained fables told by a story-teller, the sage Bidpai (Bidpaï, Pilpay). Their purpose was to prepare the prince for his future role as king. The fables of Bidpai constitute inset tales, Innerfabeln, inserted in a frame story, le récit-cadre or an Ausserfabel. In other words, we have an author and a story-teller.

By the final quarter of the 16th century in England, Bidpai’s fables constituted Thomas North’s Morall Philosophy of Doni (1571).[1] In France, the Panchatantra and the Arabic Kalīlah wa Dimnah, or the Fables of Bidpai, culminated in Orientalist Gilbert Gaulmin‘s translation of the fables of Pilpay, Le Livre des lumières, ou la Conduite des rois, les Fables de Pilpay FR, published in 1644. In 1678, the year Jean de La Fontaine published his second collection (recueil) of fables, books VII to XI inclusively, he drew some of his material from Æsop, but his fables were also rooted in Gaulmin’s Livre des lumières, ou la Conduite des rois, les fables de Pilpay. FR

The Middle Ages: the first of two Traditions

  • Marie de France
  • to delight and to instruct
  • Avianus and the Romulus

As of the publication of Paul the Deacon‘s Ægrum fama fuit and that of the reportedly anonymous Ecbasis cuisdam captivi,[2] didactic fables remained. They were written as Roman poet Horace (8 December 65 BCE – 27 November 8 BCE) suggested: to delight and to instruct.

Poetess Marie de France (fl. 1160 to 1215), wrote a sick-lion tale, “The Lion and the Fox.” Four centuries later, Jean de La Fontaine composed a sick-lion tale entitled “The Lion, the Wolf and the Fox” / “Le Lion, le Loup et le Renard(2.VIII.3). These poems contained a lesson. In the Æsopic, “The Lion, the Wolf, and the Fox,” number 258 in the Perry Index, the wolf attempts to defame the fox and pays the cost. He is flayed.

It should also be noted that students in their trivium used fables drawn from the Ysopet-Avionnet, a collection of Æsop’s Fables. In the 4th century, fabulist Avianus compiled a collection of fables that included not only fables set into written form by Roman author Phaedrus, but also fables removed from an oral tradition by Greek fabulist Babrius. Avianus set Babrius’ Greek Æsopic fables into Latin elegiac poems. The Ysopet-Avionnet, Avionnet from Avianus, endured until the first quarter of the 20th century. (See Ysopet, Wikipedia.) The Ysopet-Avionnet is an Internet Archive publication. Another 4th _century prose collection, entitled the Romulus, was also used widely.[3]

To sum up, the Reynard cycle (there are many Reynards), mock-epics featuring animals, did not ever eclipse fables written to instruct and to delight, many of which were short trickster tales belonging to the Æsopic corpus and included in the Ysengrimus and the Roman de Renart. However, a new tradition emerged.

The Second Tradition

  • trickster tales
  • the grotesque
  • fabliaux

We are now leaving didactic fables. Henceforth, trickster tales will dominate in which beasts will be beasts, including anthropomorphic animals. The Ysengrimus and the Roman de Renart are not edifying literature. The Middle Ages favoured the grotesque, from gargoyles (water spouts) to misericords (mercy seats in cathedrals and various monasteries). Moreover, we have entered the world of the fabliau. Fabliaux are mostly obscene and, at times, scatological. Paul the Deacon’s Ægrum Fama Fuit, the sick-lion tale, and the Ecbasis captivi therefore inaugurate the medieval mock-epics tradition, epitomized in the Ysengrimus and the Roman de Renart, or the Reynard cycle, which includes Geoffrey Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale.

However, our beast epics are characterized by the use of sophisticated versification and by their length. For instance, using sophisticated versification to tell the story of a rather senseless calf who leaves the pack and is captured by a wolf is dissonant and ironic. The longer the beast fable, the greater its dissonance and irony. Paulus Diaconus8th -century  Ægrum Fama Fuit contains 24 Latin distichs, which is relatively short, but the Ecbasis captivi runs 1,230 lines written in hexameters with, frequently, Leonine internal rhyme, Nivard de Gand’s Ysengrimus is a tour de force: 6,574 lines in elegiac couplets. As for the Roman de Renart, it is not entirely versified, but the poem contains 2,410 lines in eight syllables (octosyllabic) verses in rhymed couplets.

Clearly, superior versification and the length of these beast fables do not match the subject matter: the vendetta[4] between Reynard the fox and the wolf Ysengrin, born Reinardus and Ysengrimus in the Latin Ysengrimus. This discrepancy serves to mock chansons de gestechivalry and courtly love. Beast epics are the underside of real epics and the courtly literature. They are parodies.

Epics and Courtly literature mocked

Mock-epics, or beast epics are a mundus inversus. They are the reverse of the chansons de geste (songs of deeds) such as the Carolingian (Charlemagne) Chanson de Roland / Song of Roland. Roland is the valiant knight who defeats the Basques at the Battle of Roncevaux, in 778. Roland is also Matteo Maria Boiardo‘s Orlando Innamorato, 1483 and 1495, and Ariosto Ludovico‘s Orlando Furioso (1516). The setting is the invasion of European countries by the Moors, Muslim inhabitants of Northern Africa. But Matteo Maria Boiardo had fought in the Ottoman–Venetian War (1463–1479). On 29 May 1453, the Byzantine Empire (and Anatolia) had fallen to the Ottoman Turks, separating Western Christianity and Eastern Christianity, the Near East.

In Medieval Literature, these romances originate in the Carolingian and Arthurian (King Arthur) cycles. Arthurian romances are part of the matter of Britain. Cycles are a group of literary works on the same subject, the Reynard narratives are a cycle, but under its entry on Mock-epic Britannica lists three “cycles:” the “matter of Rome the great,” the “matter of France,” and the “matter of Britain.”

Medieval romance is classified into three major cycles: the “matter of Rome the great,” the “matter of France,” and the “matter of Britain” (“matter” here is a literal translation of the French matière, referring to subject matter, theme, topic, etc.). The matter of Rome, a misnomer, refers to all tales derived from Latin classics. The matter of France includes the stories of Charlemagne and his Twelve Noble Peers [Paladins]. The matter of Britain refers to stories of King Arthur and his knights, the Tristan stories, and independent tales having an English background, such as Guy of Warwick. (Mock-epic.)[5]

I should think that El Cantar de Mio Cid a chanson [cantar] de geste, is also a cycle and the celebration of heroic deeds (gestes). Epics such as the Chanson de Roland, feature noble knights in shining armour who belong to courtly literature. These valiant knights will submit to demeaning tasks to earn the love of an idealized woman, a précieuse avant la lettre. Medieval chansons de geste intersect chivalric and courtly literature, the Roman de la Rose, which constitutes courtly love’s literary pinnacle. The rape of Hersent cannot be associated with courtly love.

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Chivalry (BnF)

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Ysengrin, Renart & Hersent (BnF)

http://classes.bnf.fr/renart/it/genese/05.htm (Chivalry)
http://classes.bnf.fr/renart/it/episodes/07.htm (Ysengrin, Renart & Hersent)

Anthropomorphism & Speech

In anthropomorphic literature, humanness isn’t so much a question of appearance as it is a matter of speech, or the ability to speak. Nivardus of Ghent named his characters, highlighting their humanness. We are reminded of T. S. Elliott’s (26 September 1888 – 4 January 1965) Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and, in particular, of the Naming of Cats.

Jill Mann, who translated the Ysengrimus into English, compares the flayed wolf who survives the removal of his coat to the cats of cartoons. These cats are flattened by a steam-roller, but fluff up again, as though they were impervious to injury and pain:

The recrudescent power of the wolf’s skin is reminiscent of the world of the cartoon where the cat who is squashed flat by a steam-roller, say, is restored to three dimensions in the next frame. [6]

The cats of cartoons live every one of their nine lives as do the Lion-King’s mutilated barons. Neither the flayed wolf nor Bruin the bear, who “loses the skin off his nose,” seem to have sustained permanent and possibly fatal injuries.

We are in an other world where an animal’s fur seems a mere coat and where animals speak, a faculty perhaps denied humans. Lanfrey (Lanfroi), the forester, does not speak. His arrival forces Bruin to sacrifice his nose so his life is spared.

In Ramsay Wood’s translation and adaptation of Kalila and Dimna (Bidpai’s fables), a shaman tells a worried prince who will not believe his gazelle spoke to him and has fallen ill over this matter, that the gazelle did talk to him:

“[Y]our gazelle spoke to you! Don’t you realize that all animals can speak? But they never do so in the company of pitiful humans!”[7]

Moreover, Wikipedia describes the Ysengrimus as a Latin fabliau. Although Hersent (Hersant FR), Ysengrin’s wife, has made love with Renart consensually (Branche II, c. 1110, p. 265), Renart takes advantage of her when she is caught in a hole, her rear end protruding. Yet, Jean Dufournet writes that the Roman de Renart was a “divertissement de clercs” (clerics)[8] and Thomas Best (p. 34) comments that “Pierre de Saint-Cloud wrote [branches II -Va] for recitation to lay nobility, addressed at the very beginning of his poem as seigneurs [lords].” Renart’s short verses, eight syllables, could be read easily by an audience consisting of the nobility of its times.

Reynard’s Eloquence

In Reynard the Fox, both animalness and humanness can be a thin veneer. In fact, were Reynard flayed, would his eloquence lose any of its verve? Underneath Reynard’s red coat, lives one of literature’s most eloquent characters. Renard’s barat, or deceitful language, convinces Tiécelin the crow to open his mouth and sing, causing Tiécelin to drop his precious cheese. But most importantly, Renart’s eloquence is such that he can talk himself out of death sentence at least twice: at the end of his “jugement” (branche I) and after Maupertuis, his fortress, is besieged.

Jurisprudence: “you shouldn’t take more than you find”

In this regard, let us note that in Nivardus of Ghent’s Ysengrimus, as the wolf is about to be flayed by the bear, Reynard “suddenly rushes forward with the plea that he [the bear] should ‘take no more than he finds:’ “I make one small request – let there be room for it – grant it – and I’ll show myself deserving: that you shouldn’t take more than you find! He himself never took more than he found. It’s right to take away what one has, but wrong to take away more than that!’ (III 931-4).” (Mann, p. 10.) I see the scales of Lady Justice.

There is no flaying episode in the Roman de Renart, but as he is about to be hanged, Renart uses his engin, his resourcefulness, and finds a ruse exceptionnelle. It occurs to him to argue that before being hanged, he must go on a pilgrimage and atone not to die a sinner. It is as though eternal damnation was too cruel and unusual a punishment for one who has merely eaten a few animals, tricked the greedy wolf, a Monk, and raped Hersent?[9]

The Pilgrimage

It works. Renart, who arrived tardily at the sick Lion-King’s bedside, because he was on a pilgrimage is sent on a pilgrimage, but Renart being Renart, he doesn’t leave for Syria. He simply returns to his fortress, Maupertuis. Molière’s Dom Juan will be called a “pilgrim.” As for Renart’s topsy-turvy defence, it is consistent with Tartuffe‘s casuistry. Moreover, Tartuffe takes no more than he has been given by Orgon.

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A studious fox in a monk’s cowl, in the margins of a Book of Hours, Utrecht, c. 1460 (Photo credit: Reynard, Wikipedia)

Comments

Renart does not always win. In the Æsopic “Le Chat et le Renart”/ “The Cat and the Fox”  [IX. 14] the fox cannot climb a tree. That is the cat’s only trick. But he can transform the grapes he craves, but cannot reach, into sour grapes (“Le Renard et les Raisins”/The Fox and the Grapes [lll. 11). That’s engin. There is, however, a gradual transformation of Reynard. In the “vendetta” opposing a greedy wolf and a smart fox, one starts wondering which of the two is the greater scoundrel: Ysengrin or Reynard?

Renart has become evil itself which is how he is depicted in Jacquemart Gielée’s Renart le Nouvel (1289) and the anonymous Renard le Contrefait (1319 – 1322), French avatars. In later iconography, the animals look almost human. The zoomorphic aspect of the beast featured in the image below is disturbing. These figures are neither animals nor human beings.

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Anthropomorphism (BnF)

http://classes.bnf.fr/renart/it/genese/07.htm (Anthropomorphism)

I will close here having been kept away from my computer by a multitude of events and fatigue. I still have the story to clarify but the Roman de Renart is both parcellaire and unitaire.[10] It is fragmented, piecemeal, yet coherent. The Bibliothèque nationale de France (the BnF) has divided Renart into nine episodes, which is the presentation I have chosen. The BnF uses Jean Dufournet’s authoritative translation (into modern French of the medieval Roman de Renart. (See Dufournet and Méline.)

Love to everyone

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Sources and Resources

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[1] See Panchatantra, Wikipedia for further details.

[2] In his Introduction to Reynard the Fox, Henry Morley tells that the author of the Ecbasis captivi belonged to the monastery of St. Evre, at Toul. Strict reforms among the brethren, in the year 936, cause his Ecbasis -his going out. He was brought back, and as sign of is regeneration wrote the poem, in which he figured himself “per tropologiam” as a calf, who, having gone out from safety, became captive to the wolf. (Introduction, A History of Reynard the Fox [London: George Routledge and Sons, 1889]), p. 1. The full title of the Ecbasis cuisdam captivi per tropologiam is “The escape of a certain captive, interpreted figuratively.

[3] Harriet Spiegel, translator and editor, Marie de France: Fables (Toronto: the University of Toronto Press, 2000 [1987], Introduction.

[4] Thomas W. Best, Reynard the Fox (Boston: J. K. Hall & Company, 1983), p. 34.

[5] https://www.britannica.com/art/mock-epic

[6] Jill Mann, “The Satiric Fiction of the Ysengrimus,” in Kenneth Varty (ed.), Reynard the Fox: Social Engagement and Cultural Metamorphoses in the Beast Epic from the Middle Ages to the Present (New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2000), p. 11.

[7] Ramsay Wood (reteller) and Doris Lessing (introduction), Tales of Kalila and Dimna, Classic Fables from India (Rochester Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1980), p. 252.

[8] Jean Dufournet et Andrée Méline, traduction et introduction, Le Roman de Renart (Paris: GF-Flammarion, 1985), p. 7.

[9] Jean Subrenat, “Rape and Adultery: Reflected Facets of Feudal Justice in the Roman de Renart,” in Kenneth Varty, ed. Reynard the Fox: Social Engagement in the Beast Epic from the Middle Ages to the Present (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2000), pp. 17-35.

[10] Jean Batany, Scène et coulisses du «Roman de Renart» (Paris: Sedes, 1989), Chapitre II.

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http://classes.bnf.fr/renart/arret/02_1.htm (BnF)

Werkraum – Slâfest du, friedel ziere?
Ein Tagelied aus dem 12. Jahrhundert von Dietmar von Aist.

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© Micheline Walker
21 April 2017
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William Caxton’s Reynard the Fox

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William Caxton’s Reynard the Fox

In 1450, legendary Briton William Caxton (c. 1422 – c. 1491), a merchant, a diplomat, a writer, a translator and Britain’s first printer, moved to Bruges, Belgium. At that time in history, the Franco-Flemish lands were very rich and, as I have stated several times, they were the cultural hub of Europe. As a merchant, Caxton had joined the Company of Merchant Adventurers of London of which he would become the governor. 

Caxton was interested in literature. He learned Flemish and translated the very popular Roman de Renart from the Flemish into English. Caxton had set up a printing press in 1476, at Westminster, England, where, in 1481, he printed his translation of the Roman de Renart, which he entitled The History of Reynard the FoxCaxton also printed Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and he is the translator, in collaboration with Colard Mansion, of Raoul Lefèvre‘s the Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, or Recueil des Histoires de Troy, printed in Bruges and the first book to be printed in the English language.

Although Le Roman de Renart is a masterpiece of French literature, it has Flemish, German and other roots. Renart was born as Reinardus in Nivardus of Ghent’s Ysengrimus, a Latin fabliau and mock epic, and his adventures were told in several languages. Its earliest “branches” were published in c. 1171.

German Translations of the Roman de Renart

Renart was first translated by Alsatian Heinrich der Glïchezäre as “Reinhart Fuchs ” (1180) almost as soon as its first branches were published in France. Glïchezäre’s Reinhart Fuchs is the first Beast epic in the German language and “branches” of Reynard’s adventures would be retold in the German-speaking lands until Wolfgang von Goethe as Reinecke Fuchs DE during the French Revolution. Goethe’s Reynard is rooted in Johann Christoph Gottsched‘s Reineke der Fuchs

Caxton’s The History of Reynard the Fox (click) is an internet publication. It was digitized by Canadian University of Victoria professor David Badke in 2003. It is a treasure as is professor Badke’s Medieval Bestiary, which includes Reynard. David Badke used an edition published by George Routledge and Sons, in 1889. Henry Morley wrote the introduction to Caxton’s 1889 Reynard the Fox. It is a concise but very informative introduction.

I have already mentioned Joan Acocella‘s “Fox News: What the stories of Reynard tell us about ourselves.” Joan Acocella used Caxton’s translation. Le Roman de Renart is also a Wikisource publication, in French. However, Wikisource used a shorter but superior reworking of Le Roman de Renart. It was rewritten by celebrated medievalist Paulin Paris. (See Paulin Paris, Wikipedia.)

Reynard: an Incunabulum

As for Caxton’s Reynard the Fox, it is an incunable, or a book printed between Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press and movable type, in c. 1439, and the year 1501. Incunables have also been called “fifteeners.” From time to time, patrons asked printers to leave blank areas so the book could be somewhat illuminated or rubricated, as shown below:

Page from Valerius Maximus, Facta et dicta memorabilia, printed in red and black by Peter Schöffer (Mainz, 1471). The page exhibits a rubricated initial letter “U” and decorations, marginalia, and ownership stamps of the “Bibliotheca Gymnasii Altonani” (Hamburg). (Photo and caption credit: Wikipedia)

Comments

The above is not the article I wanted to post as Preface to Reynard the Fox: Motifs. That post was too long which required my dividing it into several more or less independent short posts. It may be published in its entirety, but I doubt it. It would be repetitive.

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Alfred Deller sings Handel

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© Micheline Walker
8 April 2017
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Reynard the Fox: Motifs

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http://classes.bnf.fr/renart/it/episodes/08.htm

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Reynard” is a defining document of a vast tradition in Western art: the trickster story. Art and Picture Collection / The New York Public Library

You may wish to read Renart’s story in this fine article published by The New Yorker. Spelling Renart with a “d” is perfectly acceptable.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/04/fox-news

Classification

  • Antti Aarne
  • Stith Thompson (AT)
  • Hans-Georg Üther (ATU)

Finnish folklorist Antti Aarne  (5 December 1867 Pori – 2 February 1925 Helsinki)  was the first scholar to classify folktales. In the 19th century, an interest in folklore had developed. The search for folktales was in fact initiated by the Brothers Grimm who travelled throughout German-language states and collected its folklore. Germany had yet to be unified and folktales were seen as an expression of nationality and an element that could lead to nationhood. Nationalism is an ideology that dominated 19th-century Europe and it is associated with the development of folkloristics.

Prussian leader Otto von Bismarck “engineered a series of wars that unified the German states,” but he excluded Austria (see Otto von Bismarck, Wikipedia). In the early years of the 19th century, Madame de Staël had written De l’Allemagne, in which she described the people of German-language states. Germaine de Staël’s effort and enthusiasm were considerable encouragement to the Brothers Grimm.

In short, as nationalism developed, so did an interest in folklore: folktales in particular, which may explain why Antti Aarne’s started to classify folktales. He would be joined by American Stith Thompson (7 March 1885 – 10 January 1976). The Aarne-Thompson catalog was published in 1910 and was named the Motif-Index of Folk-Literature but, as Aarne-Thompson’s classification evolved, indexical units larger than motifs were used. Scholar Hans-Georg Üther refined Aarne-Thompson’s classification which is now entitled the Aarne-Thompson-Üther Classification Systems or Multilingual Folktale Database. However, motifs exist (see Motif [folkloristics]), as do narremes, the smallest meaningful units in a narrative (see Vladimir Propp, Wikipedia).

Three Motifs in Reynard the Fox

If you have read A. A. Milne‘s Winnie-the-Pooh (1926)you may remember that the little bear enters a house through an opening, but cannot get out through the same opening because he has eaten too much honey. We are entering the world of motifs. The Perry Index of Æsopic fables lists The Fox and the Weasle (24), La Fontaine’s “La Belette entrée dans un grenier” (The Weasel in a Granary) (III.17). In this fable, the Belette is too fat to leave the granary the way she entered it. As we have seen, Finnish scholar Antti Aarne‘s first classification of folktales was a motif-index.

1.

The tail fisher or severed tail

Le Roman de Renart/Aventure 9 – Wikisource (Fishing for eels through the ice)
Où l’on verra comment Renart conduisit son compère à la pêche aux anguilles.
https://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Le_Roman_de_Renart/Aventure_9

Persuading Ysengrimus, the wolf, to fish with his tale hanging down a hole in the ice is one of Reinardus’ worse tricks. The ice hardens and Ysengrimus’ tale is caught. He loses it when he must escape the villains and dogs who are approaching. In the Ysengrimus, the wolf fishes with his tail, down a hole in the ice. Eventually, his tail gets caught in the ice and he loses it trying to escape from villains and dogs.

Jean de La Fontaine, also told the sorry fate of a tailless fox in a fable entitled “Le Renart ayant la queue coupée,” The Fox with his Tail cut off (1.V.5). This tailless fox tries to persuade foxes in council to part with their own tail. He is asked to turn around so they can see what to expect. His mutilated body is repulsive, which could explain why foxes still have a tail. (Tailless Fox Tries in Vain to Get Foxes to Cut off Tails, ATU 64.)

We have also read a Cherokee fable entitled “How the Bear Lost its Tail,” a Cherokee Fable (4 August 2015). Recurrence is a precious tool in literary criticism. (How the bear lost his tail, ATU 2.)

2.

GETTING CAUGHT IN A HOLE

When Ysengrin is away being turned into a monk, Renart rapes Hersent, the wolf Isengrin’s wife, when she is caught in a hole or aperture. Noble, the king, sends ambassadors to Maupertuis, Renart’s domain, but the fox plays tricks. For instance, Renart asks Brun / Bruin the bear to put his nose in a slit in a log claiming that Brun will find honey inside. Renart then removes the wedges holding the slit open. Villagers are converging so, in order to escape, Bruin loses the skin off his nose, which he would rather do than lose his life. He returns to court. Wedges can be called coins. When one is stuck, one is coincé. The English idiom “it’s no skin off my nose,” might find its source in this episode.

Le Roman de Renart/Aventure 41 – Wikisource (Bruin’s nose gets wedged in)
De l’arrivée de damp Brun à Maupertuis, et comment il ne trouva pas doux le miel que Renart lui fit goûter.
https://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Le_Roman_de_Renart/Aventure_41

However, the main narrative is the rape of Hersent, Isengrin’s wife, and the trial that ensues. (Reynard the bear at court, ATU 53)

3.

Reynard’s plea: feigned devotion (the faux dévot)

Le Roman de Renart/Aventure 55 – Wikisource (Renart talks himself out of a death sentence)
Comment Renart fut, par jugement des Pairs, condamné à être pendu. Comment il ne le fut pas, et comment il rentra dans Maupertuis.
https://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Le_Roman_de_Renart/Aventure_41

Comments

Reynard the Fox played a role in the development of European jurisprudence. Reynard the Fox is also associated with Machiavelli‘s Prince. If the end, which may be survival, justifies the means, one lies, rapes and murders. Renart feigns devotion. He is an ancestor to Molière’s Tartuffe, the ultimate casuiste, and has also been identified with Molière’s Dom Juan. The manner in which he talks himself out of a death sentence is pure hypocrisy, but it is also the plea of a brilliant lawyer. Before, he is hanged, the fox must atone. He resembles the fox in the Sick Lion tale who has also been on a pilgrimage, which explains his tardy arrival at the Lion’s court, Noble’s court.

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Sources and Resources

This post is the second of two posts on Reynard the Fox. Given its subject matter, motifs, it can be published independently of the first post. Should you need further information, please use Joan Acocella’s article on Reynard the Fox. One cannot do better. The link to her article is immediately above this note.

Love to everyone 

Micheline Walker
2 April 2017
WordPress

 

A New Page: Beast Literature

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Dear friends,

I wasn’t at my computer this week. However, I have published a page entitled Beast literature. It contains a list of most of the posts I have written on Beast fables, but not the fables themselves. These are listed on a separate page.

Missing is a post about the various naturalists whose descriptions were used to tell about animals. Herodotus was the first to describe animals, but most fabulists and naturalists used a book entitled the Physiologus to obtain the information they required.

I will post this short note and will return to my normal activities as soon as I feel better.

Love to everyone 

Micheline

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