Talking Animals: Medieval Latin Beast Poetry, 750-1150
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993; Series: Middle Ages Series
"Not all stories about animals are fables, but in English the only common term to designate fiction in which animals are important characters is beast fable, often reduced crudely to fable. Although beast fables have been and probably always will be preeminent among the different types of literature about animals, the term should not be stretched beyond the limitations of form that lend fable its specificity: a fable has a rigid structure that requires the story part to be brief and the meaning (or at least one meaning) of the story to be communicated overtly in the moral. A more inclusive label for fiction about animals would be beast literature. As used in this book, beast literature is not a genre on the order of the epic, romance, or novel. Rather, it comprehends texts from many genres - texts in which the principal actors are animals, usually talking animals. ... Medieval Latin beast poetry is a subclass of beast literature, delimited by both the chronological and formal indications that medieval Latin and poetry entail. ... As I employ the phrase in this book, 'beast poetry' indicates poems in which the central character is a talking animal or bird. ... Because beast literature cuts across genres, this study of medieval Latin beast poetry will open with a chapter on literary sources and analogues in several genres. ... The remainder of this study attempts to chart the irregular contours of medieval Latin beast poetry. In subsequent chapters I survey what is known and can be hazarded about each of the beast poems written between A.D. 750 and 1150." - Introduction
Includes English translations of the Latin poems discussed.
354 p., bibliography, index, list of primary and secondary sources.
ISBN: 0-8122-3161-9; LCCN: 92-46709; LC: PA8065.A54Z551993; DDC: 871'.030936-dc20
Last update May 12, 2023