Animal tale

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An animal tale or beast fable generally consists of a short story or poem in which animals talk. It is a traditional form of allegorical writing.[1]

Important traditions in beast fables are represented by the Panchatantra and Kalila and Dimna (Sanskrit and Arabic originals), Aesop (Greek original), One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights) and separate trickster traditions (West African and Native American). The medieval French cycle of allegories, Roman de Reynart is called a beast-epic, with the recurring figure Reynard the fox.[2]

Beast fables are typically transmitted freely between languages, and often assume pedagogic roles: for example, Latin versions of Aesop were standard as elementary textbook material in the European Middle Ages, and the Uncle Remus stories brought trickster tales into English. A more recent example, in English literature, was George Orwell's allegorical novel Animal Farm, in which various political ideologies were personified as animals, such as the Stalinist Napoleon Pig, and the numerous "sheep" that followed his directions without question. In American cinema, there is also the Academy Award-winning film, Zootopia, that serves as a fable about prejudice and stereotypes where the funny animal characters experience both social problems with their species serving as an analogy to racial groups.[3]


  1. ^ M. H. Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms (5th edition 1985), p. 6.
  2. ^ H. J. Blackham, The Fable as Literature (1985), p. 40.
  3. ^ Nugrahani, Novani (19 February 2016). "Zootopia: A modern-day fable that will delight young and old alike". Jakarta Post. Retrieved 6 March 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Jill Mann, From Aesop to Reynard: Beast Literature in Medieval Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • Jill Mann, Ysengrimus: Text with Translation, Commentary, and Introduction. Leiden: Brill, 1997.
  • Jan Ziolkowski, Talking animals: medieval Latin beast poetry, 750-1150. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993.