Roman de Renart

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Related to Roman de Renart: Reynard the Fox

Roman de Renart


(Tale of Reynard the Fox), a classic of French urban literature that was largely completed by the mid-13th century. The immediate sources of the work were fables circulating in the folklore of Europe that by the mid-12th century had taken the form in northern France of a cycle of narrative poems. Another source of the work was the Greco-Latin fable tradition of medieval literature.

The Roman de Renart consists of 30 parts (branches), linked by the theme of the conflict between the cunning fox, Renart (Reynard), and the crude, stupid wolf, Isengrim. Like the fabliau, it is written in couplets. In the later parts, written in the 13th century, the entertaining and comic elements of masquerade are replaced by keen satirization of royal authority, the feudal aristocracy, and the clergy. The work has been translated into Dutch, Italian, English, German, and the Scandinavian languages. Goethe’s narrative poem Reineke the Fox (1793) goes back to the Low German version (1498).


Le Roman de Renart, branches 1–17. Edited by M. Roques according to the Cange manuscript. Paris, 1948–60 (in course of publication).
In Russian translation:
In Khrestomatiia po zarubezhnoi literature: Literatura srednikh vekov. Compiled by V. I. Purishev and R. O. Shor. Moscow, 1953. Pages 294–305.


Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946. Pages 144–50.
Flinn, J. Le Roman de Renart. [Toronto] 1963.
Sudre, L. Les Sources du Roman de Renart. Geneva, 1974.


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References in periodicals archive ?
The action of Branch XVII of the Roman de Renart will be shown to share these fundamental characteristics of medieval carnival celebration and, because of this, its carnivalesque nature may be seen as a basis for a reading of the cycle as a whole.
This short episode is typical of the way in which ritual is used in the Roman de Renart. The animals take great care to ensure that procedures are closely followed, whether in the court of justice or in the church, (13) so the inversion is to be found not in what they do but in what they are.
In the case of Renart, the community he makes is a community of the carnivalesque, which along with its rituals of violence and humiliation also contains the playful element that is the key to reading the whole of the Roman de Renart. To appreciate the truly comic nature of the text, its violence, its amoral sexuality, and its dynamic of trick and countertrick, it must be situated in the context of the carnival where all is made well through ritualized laughter.
In the Roman de Renart individual branches may be selected for attention, but the reader also needs to be aware of the rich texture of references that has developed as a result of its cumulative composition, and is deliberately exploited by the authors of the various branches.
(1) The numbering of branches is that established by Ernest Martin in his edition of the text, Le Roman de Renart, 3 vols (Strasbourg: Trubner, 1882-1887).
(3) Le Roman de Renart ou le texte de la derision (Geneva: Droz, 1989), p.
(5) Roger Bellon, 'La Justice dans le Roman de Renart: Procedures judiciaires et procedes narratifs', in La Justice au Moyen Age: Sanction ou impunite?