Fables of Power: Aesopian Writing and Political History
Patterson, Annabel M
This book was my on-the-train reading on a trip across the country to start a Santa Clara sabbatical in August of 1996. As the back cover indicates, She shows how the fable worked as a medium of political analysis and communication, especially from or on behalf of the politically powerless. In a good review in Modern Philology (Vol. 91, No. 4, May, 1994, 546-49), Anne Lake Prescott of Barnard finds much to praise and a few things to criticize in this short book of some 177 pages. She highlights one of Patterson's achieved purposes, to show the conflicting ways in which the Aesopian fable served intellectually interesting political analysis (549). Patterson works through Caxton, Lydgate, and Henryson and focusses on literary figures like Spenser, Sidney, Lyly, Shakespeare, and Milton. She pays attention to Ogilby, L'Estrange, and Croxall. Some of her most revealing work may be on The Belly and the Members. As Prescott writes, Patterson studies how this one fable is turned, twisted, retroped, and turned belly-up or belly-down as political pressures reform and revive it (547).
Duke University Press