fable


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fable,

brief allegorical narrative, in verse or prose, illustrating a moral thesis or satirizing human beings. The characters of a fable are usually animals who talk and act like people while retaining their animal traits. The oldest known fables are those in the Panchatantra, a collection of fables in Sanskrit, and those attributed to the Greek Aesop, perhaps the most famous of all fabulists. Other important writers of fables include Jean de La Fontaine, whose fables are noted for their sophistication and wit, the Russian poet Ivan Krylov, and the German dramatist and critic Gotthold Lessing, who also wrote a critical essay on the fable. In England the tradition of the fable was continued in the 17th and 18th cent. by John Dryden and John Gay. The use of the fable in the 20th cent. can be seen in James Thurber's Fables for Our Time (1940) and in George Orwell's political allegory, Animal Farm (1945). The American poet Marianne Moore wrote poems quite similar to fables in their use of animals and animal traits to comment on human experience; she also published an excellent translation of The Fables of La Fontaine (1954).

Bibliography

See H. J. Blackham, The Fable as Literature (1985) and bibliography comp. by P. Carnes (1985).

Fable

 

a literary genre; a short tale, usually in verse and allegorical form, that satirically depicts human actions and relationships. The fable is similar to the parable and apologue. In addition to people, the characters in fables are animals, plants, and things. At the beginning or end of a fable there is usually an aphoristic, didactic conclusion (the moral).

The fable is one of the oldest literary genres. In ancient Greece, Aesop (sixth to fifth centuries B.C.) was famous for his fables in prose. In Rome, Phaedrus (first century A.D.) wrote fables. In India the collection of fables Panchatantra dates to the third century. The most outstanding fabulist of modern times was the French poet J. de La Fontaine (17th century).

In Russia the fable developed between the mid-18th and the beginning of the 19th century. It is associated with the names of A. P. Sumarokov (parables), I. I. Khemnitser, A. E. Izmailov, and I. I. Dmitriev, although the first experiments with verse fables had already been made in the 17th century by Simeon Polotskii and in the first half of the 18th century by A. D. Kantemir and V. K. Trediakovskii. In Russian poetry fables were written in free verse that captured the intonation of unconstrained, playful tales. I. A. Krylov’s fables, with their realistic vitality, sober humor, and superb language, marked the flowering of this genre in Russia. In the Ukraine, fables were written by G. Skovoroda, P. P. Gulak-Artemovskii, and L. I. Glebov. During the Soviet period, the fables of Dem’ian Bednyi, S. Mikhajl-kov, F. Krivin, and others became popular.

REFERENCES

Potebnia, A. A. Iz lektsii po teorii slovesnosti: Basnia, poslovitsa, pogovorka, 3rd ed. Kharkov, 1930.
Vygotskii, L. Psikhologiia iskusstva. Moscow, 1965. Pages 117–55.

fable

1. a short moral story, esp one with animals as characters
2. a story or legend about supernatural or mythical characters or events
3. legends or myths collectively
4. Archaic the plot of a play or of an epic or dramatic poem
References in classic literature ?
Meanwhile, it is but right to say, he does really appear to have overcome the moral objections against these fables, although at the expense of such liberties with their structure as must be left to plead their own excuse, without any help from me.
This is almost realizing the fable of the centaurs; nor can we wonder at the equestrian adroitness of these savages, who are thus in a manner cradled in the saddle, and become in infancy almost identified with the animal they bestride.
But I am like the pigeon that went away in the fable of the Two Pigeons.
Not that Catherine was always stupid -- by no means; she learnt the fable of "The Hare and Many Friends" as quickly as any girl in England.
Like Midas in the fable, who from his insatiable wish had everything he touched turned into gold.
That may be, Joe; but we must consign the story to the domain of fable, like the dogs' heads which the traveller, Brun-Rollet, attributed to other tribes.
Your excellency is the lion of which the fable remarks:
The Oriental fable of the poor Arab who carried away from the pillage of palace a kettle at the bottom of which was concealed a bag of gold, and whom everybody allowed to pass without jealousy, - this fable had become a truth in the prince's mansion.
But in my mature experience, which threw a broader light on the fable, I was happy to keep my old love of an author who had been almost personally, dear to me.
To the eyes of his matter-of-fact companions, the aspect of these coasts recalled rather the parceled-out land of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and where the Frenchman discovered traces of the heroes of fable, these Americans were marking the most favorable points for the establishment of stores in the interests of lunar commerce and industry.
An elderly dame, too, dwells in my neighborhood, invisible to most persons, in whose odorous herb garden I love to stroll sometimes, gathering simples and listening to her fables; for she has a genius of unequalled fertility, and her memory runs back farther than mythology, and she can tell me the original of every fable, and on what fact every one is founded, for the incidents occurred when she was young.
What is history," said Napoleon, "but a fable agreed upon?