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From Aesop to ReynardBeast Literature in Medieval Britain$
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Jill Mann

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199217687

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199217687.001.0001

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(p.306) Conclusion
From Aesop to Reynard

Jill Mann

Oxford University Press

The Conclusion re‐emphasizes the two major themes running through the works discussed. The first is the power of nature, which is sometimes connected with the idea of social hierarchy, and sometimes with attitudes to sexuality. The second is the contrast between words and deeds (dicta and facta) or rhetoric and reality. Whereas fable is mistrustful of words, which are seen as a mere camouflage for the appetites that govern behaviour, in beast epic words run riot and the human ability to pour forth endless interpretations of reality is seen as a matter for comic celebration. A strain of self‐reflexivity also runs through these works: conscious of the tendency of words to mislead not only others but the speaker him/herself, writers must also be conscious that this is true of their own words as well. Hence the frequency of an ironic relation between writer and work in this tradition.

Keywords:   words and deeds, beast epic, beast fable

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