Reynard the Fox: A New Translation

Category: Book
By (author): Greenblatt, Stephen
By (author): Simpson, James
Subject:  POETRY / European / General
  POETRY / Medieval
Publisher: WW Norton
Published: March 2015
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 256
Size: 8.52in x 6.42in x 0.82in
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$ 33.95
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Additional Notes

From The Publisher*Three hundred years before the publication of Machiavelli's , a now virtually unknown parable became the medieval equivalent of a runaway bestseller. Whereas Machiavelli taught kings how to manipulate their subjects, demonstrated how clever subjects could outwit both their kings and enemies alike. Despite its immense popularity at the time, this brains-over-brawn parable largely disappeared, but it reemerges in this rollicking translation by the renowned medieval scholar James Simpson. In these pages the wily Reynard cons the likes of Tybert the Cat, Bruin the Bear, and Isengrim the Wolf, among others, exposing the arrogance, greed, and overweening hypocrisy of the so-called "civilized." Cleverly disguised as a tale about the animal kingdom, Simpson's translation of the late-middle-English version restores Reynard as part of a tradition that extends all the way to Orwell's . Highlighted with all new illustrations, "Reynard the Fox is the animal fable's version of Homer's Odyssey" (Stephen Greenblatt).
Review Quote*"When I read for the first time…I instantly knew that could be enjoyed by everyone over a certain age: the literary pleasures of this work are instantly accessible to all lovers of great narrative…We are all political animals who need to survive, whatever we do. And all of us like laughing. And all of us are fascinated by animals, not least because we are ourselves animals who need to pretend otherwise."

"[] is clearly a satire, one that exposes the greed, corruption, and lying that poison institutions and social relations, above all at court…It helps, of course, that this is an animal fable, so what might otherwise seem like pages taken from or come across as episodes from a "Road Runner" cartoon or an episode of . Still more, the literary artistry of -its pace, its deft twists of plot, its zany characters, and its savage humor-persuades us that to survive in this world it is more important to pretend to be good than actually to be good. To this extent at least, Reynard is the secret twin of his great contemporary Niccolo Machiavelli."
Biographical NoteStephen Greenblatt (Ph.D. Yale) is Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. Also General Editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, he is the author of eleven books, including The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (winner of the 2011 National Book Award and the 2012 Pulitzer Prize); Shakespeare's Freedom; Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare; Hamlet in Purgatory; Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World; Learning to Curse: Essays in Early Modern Culture; and Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare. He has edited seven collections of criticism, including Cultural Mobility: A Manifesto, and is a founding coeditor of the journal Representations. His honors include the MLA's James Russell Lowell Prize, for both Shakespearean Negotiations: The Circulation of Social Energy in Renaissance England and The Swerve, the Sapegno Prize, the Distinguished Humanist Award from the Mellon Foundation, the Wilbur Cross Medal from the Yale University Graduate School, the William Shakespeare Award for Classical Theatre, the Erasmus Institute Prize, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of California, Berkeley. He was president of the Modern Language Association of America and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.