Moralized Beasts: the Development of Medieval Fable and Bestiary Particularly from the Twelfth through the Fifteenth Centuries in England and France
Berkeley: University of California, 1973
PhD dissertation. Adviser: Charles Muscatine.
This study shows medieval writers transforming animal fable, twelfth century to Robert Henryson, with comparisons to bestiary. It discusses innovators in social satire and in witty freedom with meanings. Their moralizations for traditional stories provide test cases for modern theories of 'medieval meanings' understood by audiences for Chaucer or others. The variety of moralization proves 'traditional' meanings subject to innovation and witty play. The study introduces the field and key figures, identifies an innovative group, and examines medieval interplay of humor and meaning. For most of the Middle Ages, while bestiary remained otherworldly and Christian from origin, fable offered more worldly focus. Fable imitated supposed pre-Christian authors Aesop and Romulus, avoiding the figures and concepts of Christian society. Thus each genre long narrowed its scope; neither expressed a whole 'medieval world view.' In the late twelfth century, certain writers enlarged each genre by something of the other genre's spirit. A loose group of late fabulists, mostly in England and France, developed three innovations: more-specific social applications, wittily elaborate moralizations no longer seeming pagan, and vivid style and characterization recalling the Roman de Renart. Robert Henryson should be seen as a culmination of this group, making fable both a more complete medieval statement and also a more individualistic one, playing wittily with meaning. Bestiaries discussed include the innovative Bestiaire d'amour of Richart de Fornival (or Fournival), plus Physiologus, Philippe de Thaon, Theobaldus, and Guillaume le Clerc. Fabulists are discussed more extensively, especially Robert Henryson. Important roles in developing fable as social criticism are noted for the Hebrew fabulist Berechiah and for Odo of Cheriton (or Cerington). Other discussions cover Marie de France, Odo's followers Nicole Bozon and John of Sheppey, the Isopets, the Fabulae rhythmicae, John Lydgate, and Latin Aesop/Romulus fables collected by Hervieux and ultimately from Phaedrus or Babrius. Fables of social satire in Marie and Berechiah are listed, with Marie-Lydgate links (appendices)." - [Abstract]
Available as microfilm from University of California, Berkeley, 1982 (1 microfilm reel).
ISBN: 0-591-93235-0; PQDD: AAT9839553; OCLC: 9161035
Last update May 12, 2023