The human presence in Robert Henryson’s Fables and William Caxton’s The History of Reynard the Fox
Good, Julian Russell Peter
Ph.D. Department of Scottish Literature, College of Arts, University of Glasgow, March (2012)
This study is a comparison of the human presence in the text of Robert Henryson’s Fables1, and that of William Caxton’s 1481 edition of The History of Reynard the Fox (Blake:1970). The individual examples of Henryson’s Fables looked at are those that may be called the ‘Reynardian’ fables (Mann:2009); these are The Cock and the Fox; The Fox and the Wolf; The Trial of the Fox; The Fox, the Wolf, and the Cadger, and The Fox, the Wolf, and the Husbandman.2 These fables were selected to provide a parallel focus, through the main protagonists and sources, with the text of The History of Reynard the Fox. The reason for the choice of these two texts, in a study originally envisaged as an examination of the human presence of Henryson’s Fables, is that Caxton’s text, although a translation, is precisely contemporary with the Fables, providing a specifically contemporary comparison to Henryson, as well as being a text that is worthwhile of such research in its own right. What may be gained from such a study is that the comparison of the contemporary texts, from Scotland and England, with parallel or similar main protagonists, may serve to sharpen the focus on each.