The Reynard cycle (French: Roman de Renart; German: Reineke-Zyklus; Template:Lang-nl) is a literary cycle of allegorical French, Dutch, English, and German fables largely concerned with Reynard, an anthropomorphic red fox and trickster figure.
Etymology of name
Theories about the origin of the name Reynard are:
- From the Germanic man's name Reginhard, which came from 'regin' = "the divine powers of the old Germanic religion" and "hard": "made hard by the gods", but with the disuse of the old Germanic religion was later likely interpreted as "rain-hard" meaning "staying steady under a rain of blows from weapons in battle" or similar.
- From the Germanic man's name Reginhard (later condensed to Reinhard), which comes from 'regin' = "counsel" and 'harti' = "strong", denoting someone who is wise, clever, or resourceful.
In medieval European folklore and literature
The figure of Reynard is thought to have originated in Alsace-Lorraine folklore from where it spread to France, the Low Countries, and Germany. An extensive treatment of the character is the Old French Le Roman de Renart written by Pierre de Saint-Cloud around 1170, which sets the typical setting. Reynard has been summoned to the court of king Noble, or Leo, the Lion, to answer charges brought against him by Isengrim the Wolf. Other anthropomorphic animals, including Bruin the Bear, Baldwin the Ass, Tibert (Tybalt) the Cat, all attempt one stratagem or another. The stories typically involve satire whose usual butts are the aristocracy and the clergy, making Reynard a peasant-hero character. The story of the preaching fox found in the Reynard literature was used in church art by the Catholic Church as propaganda against the Lollards. Reynard's principal castle, Maupertuis, is available to him whenever he needs to hide away from his enemies. Some of the tales feature Reynard's funeral, where his enemies gather to deliver maudlin elegies full of insincere piety, and which feature Reynard's posthumous revenge. Reynard's wife Hermeline appears in the stories, but plays little active role, although in some versions she remarries when Reynard is thought dead, thereby becoming one of the people he plans revenge upon. Isengrim (Alternate French spelling : Ysengrin) is Reynard's most frequent antagonist and foil, and generally ends up outwitted, though he occasionally gets revenge.
Reynard appears first in the medieval Latin poem Ysengrimus, a long Latin mock-epic written ca. 1148-1153 by the poet Nivardus in Ghent, that collects a great store of Reynard's adventures. He also puts in an early appearance in a number of Latin sequences by the preacher Odo of Cheriton. Both of these early sources seem to draw on a pre-existing store of popular culture featuring the character. In 1174, the first branch or chapter of the Roman de Renart appears, written by Pierre de St. Cloud (though in all French editions it is designated as Branch II). Pierre wrote a sequel in 1179 (called Branch I) but between that date and after many French authors composed their own adventures for Renart li goupil (the fox). There is also the text Reinhard Fuchs by Heinrich der Glïchezäre.
Pierre de St. Cloud opens his work on the fox by situating it within the larger tradition of epic poetry, the fabliaux and Arthurian romance:
| This would roughly translate as:|
Seigneurs, oï avez maint conte
Lords, you have heard many tales,
A 13th-century Middle Dutch version of the story (Van den vos Reynaerde, About Reynard the Fox), is also made up of rhymed verses (the same AA BB scheme). Like Pierre, very little is known of the author, Willem, other than the description by the copyist in the first sentences:
| This would roughly translate as:|
Willem, die Madoc maecte,
Willem who has made Madoc,
"Madoc" is probably another one of Willem's works, but is lost.Geoffrey Chaucer used Reynard material in the Canterbury Tales; in "The Nun's Priest's Tale", Reynard appears as "Rossel" and an ass as "Brunel". In 1481 William Caxton printed The Historie of Reynart the Foxe, which was translated from a Middle Dutch version of the fables. Also in the 1480s, the Scottish poet Robert Henryson devised a highly sophisticated development of Reynardian material as part of his Morall Fabillis in the sections known as The Talking of the Tod. Hans van Ghetelen, a printer of Incunabula in Lübeck printed an early German version called Reinke de Vos in 1498. It was translated to Latin and other languages, which made the tale popular across Europe. Reynard is also referenced in the Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight during the third hunt.
Rénert the Fox
Rénert the Fox was published in 1872 by Michel Rodange, a Luxembourgish author. An epic satirical work, an adaptation of the traditional Dutch fox epic to a setting in Luxembourg, it is known for its insightful analysis of the unique characteristics of the people of Luxembourg, using regional and sub-regional dialects to depict the fox and his companions.
Van den vos Reynaerde, (About Reynard the Fox) was an anti-semitic children's story, written by the Dutch-Belgian Robert van Genechten, and named after the mediaeval Dutch poem. It was first published in 1937 in Nieuw-Nederland, a monthly of the Dutch national socialist movement NSB. In 1941 it was published as a book.
The story features rhinoceroses, neushoorn in Dutch (literally : "nose horn"), referring to the perceived typical Jewish nose. One of them is called Jodocus, which refers to the Dutch word for Jew: jood, pronounced somewhat like the "Iod-" in Iodocus. The story also features a donkey, Boudewijn, occupying the throne. "Boudewijn" happened to be the Dutch name of the contemporary Belgian crown prince. This is a reference to the Belgian Nazi leader Léon Degrelle, leader of the Rex-movement ("Rex" is Latin for "King"). In the story, Reynard rounds up and kills most of the rhinoceroses, including Jodocus.
Van den vos Reynaerde was also released as a cartoon film by Nederlandfilm in 1943. The film was mostly paid with German money. While lavishly-budgeted, it was never presented publicly, possibly because most Dutch Jews had already been transported to the concentration camps and the film came too late to be useful as a propaganda piece, possibly also because the Dutch collaborationist Department of People's Information, Service and Arts objected to the fact that the fox, an animal traditionally seen as "villainous", should be used as a hero. In 1991, parts of the film were found again in the German Bundesarchiv. In 2005, more pieces were found, and the film has been restored. The reconstructed film was shown during the 2006 Holland Animation Film Festival in Utrecht and during the KLIK! Amsterdam Animation Festival in 2008, in the Netherlands.
Other adaptations, versions and references
In movies and television series
- Ladislas Starevich's 1937 puppet-animated feature film, Le Roman de Renard (The Tale of the Fox) featured the Reynard character as the protagonist.
- The documentary film "The Black Fox" (1962) parallels Hitler's rise to power with the Reynard fable.
- The Zorro television series and movies. "Zorro" means fox in Spanish.
- Disney produced an anthropomorphic animated version of Robin Hood in which Robin and Maid Marian were depicted as foxes, and other characters from the tale depicted as other animals (including a wolf as Sheriff of Nottingham and lions as both Prince John and King Richard). This treatment would also appear to owe something to the Reynard trickster fables. Indeed, Disney had years before attempted making a movie based on Reynard, but the project was eventually cancelled, due to concerns that he was not suitable as a hero. Many elements were lifted for the Robin Hood movie.
- One character in Disney's Gargoyles is named Fox Renard. She is a trickster by nature and a thief at her first appearance. She has a fox's face tattooed over her right eye.
- In 1985, a French animated series, "Moi Renart" (I Reynard) was created which was loosely based on Reynard's tales. In it, the original animals are anthropomorphic humanoid animals and the action occurs in modern Paris with other anthropomorphic animals in human roles. Reynard is a young mischievous fox with a little monkey pet called Marmouset (an original creation). He sets off into Paris in order to discover the city, get a job and visit his grumpy and stingy uncle, Isengrim, who is a deluxe car salesman, and his reasonable yet dreamy she-wolf aunt, Hersent. Reynard meets Hermeline, a young and charming motorbike-riding vixen journalist. He immediately falls in love with her and tries to win her heart during several of the episodes. As Reynard establishes himself in Paris, he creates a small company that shares his name which offers to do any job for anyone, from impersonating female maids to opera singers. To help with this, he is a master of disguise and is a bit of a kleptomaniac, which gets him into trouble from police chief Chantecler (a rooster) who often sends cat police inspector Tybalt after him to thwart his plans.
- The 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough featured a villain named Renard. Renard had no sense of touch due to a bullet lodged in his head. True to the etymology of the name, Renard was steady under a rain of blows, as he felt no pain.
- In 2005, a Luxembourg-based animation studio released an all CGI film titled "Le Roman de Renart", obviously based on the same fable.
- The character of Tybalt in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is named for the character Tibert/Tybalt the "Prince of Cats" in Reynard the Fox.
- Volpone (Italian for "The Big Fox") is a comedy by Ben Jonson first produced in 1606, telling the story of a greedy, childless Venetian nobleman.
- Goethe dealt with Reynard in his fable Reineke Fuchs.
- In Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, there is a character resembling Reynard, Rinehart - a man whom the protagonist is often mistaken for; who is either a pimp, or a preacher, or both.
- A fox called Reynard is a central character in John Crowley's 1976 novel Beasts.
- In the 2006 novel, Echo Park, by Michael Connelly, the villain is styled—and named—after Reynard the Fox.
- British novelist Michael Moorcock introduced Lord Renyard, a man-sized talking fox, well-versed in 18th Century Encyclopedist philosophy, in his 1986 fantasy "The City in the Autumn Stars".
- In the Fables comic book, Reynard the Fox is one of the non-human Fables who lives on "the Farm"---the part of Fabletown reserved for Fables who cannot pass as normal humans, due to its secluded location in upstate New York State. He is opposed to the attempted overthrow of the Fabletown government, and works with Snow White---saving her life while flirting with her mercilessly. Although Snow White offers him no encouragement, he continues to hope for a relationship with her. Centuries earlier, in the Fables Homelands, it was Reynard who devised the elaborate trick that enable King Noble the Lion's subjects to escape after their land was conquered by the Adversary. Reynard then led them to freedom in the Mundy world. A later book (9) briefly features Isengrim, the wolf.
- Author Robertson Davies, in The Deptford Trilogy, has a magician take on the stage name 'Magnus Eisengrim'. The spelling is different, but there are references to 'eisengrim the wolf.'
- In the Swedish children's comic Bamse, a new villain is introduced in Issue 7 (2006): a fox named Reinard, who attempts to impress other ne'er-do-wells with his cunning trickery (including dispatching hero Bamse to a remote region of Sweden so that he can pursue a museum raid without hindrance).
- In Friedrich Nietzsche's The Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche uses Reynard the Fox as an example of a dialectician.
- Science Fiction/Fantasy writer Neil Gaiman wrote a story in verse about Reynard in his collection "Smoke and Mirrors".
- In the last issue of Grant Morrison's The Invisibles, one of the side characters is named Reynard, in reference to the original folktales.
- Reynardine is a character in the webcomic Gunnerkrigg Court. He is a fox that can possess others by entering their bodies through the eyes, although at the time of the story he is trapped in the body of the protagonist's stuffed wolf doll. He was given the power by Coyote, who is served by the wolf Ysengrin.
- Rogue Reynard (1947) is a young adult book written by Science Fiction/Fantasy writer Andre Norton early in her career. Norton, who was working at the time as a children's librarian at the Cleveland Public Library, apparently felt that there would be a market for a simple, accessible young-people's version of the tales of Reynard.
- L. Frank Baum 's story "The Road to Oz," (1909) little Dorothy encounters Renard, the King of the Foxes.
- In Sophie Masson's book about Marie De France, The Forest of Dreams Marie is lured into the world of shape shifters by Renart, a fox like shape shifter who holds much authority in the Underworld.
- John Masefield's poem "Reynard the Fox" tells the tale of a fox hunt in England.
- In 1916 Igor Stravinsky composed Renard (aka The Fox), "histoire burlesque chantée et jouée" (burlesque in song and dance), a one-act chamber opera-ballet. Stravinsky's text was in Russian, and based on Russian folk tales from the collection by Alexander Afanasyev.
- "Reynard the Fox" is the opening song on Julian Cope's album Fried (1986). Cope often incorporates folklore into his work. The song describes Reynard fleeing from "redmen" who have killed his wife and child and then ritually sacrificing himself on a hill near Polesworth.
- Reynard is a common name for the fox in English folk songs; there are several versions of "Reynard the Fox", with significant variations in both lyrics and melody. Usually the fox here is a predator being hunted down, although most of the tale is told from Reynard's point of view.
- Nic Jones recorded a version on "Ballads & Songs" (Trailer Records, 1970).
- Scottish indie/country band Country Teasers have a song titled "Reynard The Fox" on their 1999 album, Destroy All Human Life (Fat Possum Records)
- English band Angelica had a song titled "Reynard The Fox" on their 2002 album, The Seven Year Itch.
- Reynardine is another English folk song, of later composition. "Sly bold Reynardine" here is an outlaw and possibly a shape-shifter, seeking refuge and romance with a girl he meets "along the mountains high". Fairport Convention (Liege & Lief, Island Records), Bert Jansch and John Renbourn have recorded versions of this song.
- Dutch modern artist Leonard van Munster made an installation titled "The surrender of Reynard the Fox".
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- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Briggs, Asa (ed.) (1989) The Longman Encyclopedia, Longman, ISBN 0582916208
- ↑ Benton, Janetta Rebold (1 April 1997). Holy Terrors: Gargoyles on Medieval Buildings. Abbeville Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0789201829.
- ↑ Reynard the Fox and the Jew Animal by Egbert Barten and Gerard Groeneveld
- ↑ Reynard the Fox and the Jew Animal
- ↑ Reynard the Fox and the Jew Animal, page 6
- ↑ (Dutch) "Animaties over oorlog op filmfestival". ANP.
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- Le roman de Renart In French and English.
- The History of Reynard The Fox by Henry Morley, 1889.
- Reynard The Fox, article from the 1911 edition of Encyclopædia Britannica
- Full text of the Middle Dutch poem
- Full text of the Middle Dutch poem with notes
- Full text of the Middle Saxon poem
- Reinardus, the journal for the International Reynard Society.
- Complete Bibliography on Reynard from the Archives de littérature du Moyen Age
- Reynard The Fox in the Vondelpark 03 03 2010