Reynard the Fox In South Africa Or Hottentot Fables and Tales

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Authors
Bleek, W. H. I
Issue Date
1864
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Book, Whole
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This is a reprint upon demand book from Kessinger, perhaps the only such book I have hardbound. On some 94 pages there are thirty-five numbered fables divided according to the following categories: jackal fables; tortoise fables; baboon fables; lion fables; various fables; and sun and moon fables. The 21-page preface makes a fascinating point. The Hottentot culture of South Africa produces genuine fables, perhaps alone among African peoples. This insight is couched in racial judgments we would find highly questionable today. Consider this statement: The fact of such a literary capacity existing among a nation whose mental qualifications it has been usual to estimate at the lowest standard, is of the greatest importance (xii). Were these fables the real offspring of the desert, Bleek asks, or were they purloined from the superior white race (xiii)? Fable #5 and Fable #6 both follow a standard old fable, but now the situation is that a man has removed a stone pinning down a snake. The snake wants to bite the man. Asked to judge in the case, the jackal plays stupid: I won't believe this situation you were in until I see it with my own two eyes. When the original situation is recreated, the jackal urges the man to go free. #8 is the famous story of the fox playing dead to get into the fisherman's wagon. #10 has jackal and hyena in the place, respectively, of the fox and the wolf in the fable that turns on the suffering king lion's needing a warm wolf's skin to heal him. #11 has the basic plot of the story about sacrificing a child to a threatener's threats; he will soon ask for another. Many of the stories turn on outwitting an opponent. A few strike me as typical Pourquoi? stories rather than Aesopic fables. There seem also to be one or two animal metamorphosis stories. There are finally two sections of legends and household tales, respectively. Page 34 is hastily copied and therefore illegible.
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Trübner and Company/Kessinger Publishing
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