Reynard Russet's Party: The Tale of the Fox and the Crane

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Byron, May
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This book takes the FS story to unusual places. Reynard has no wife and no family. Mrs. Vixen, an elderly widowed cousin, keeps house for him. He comes home regretful after a delightful party with his nieces and nephews. He invites to supper a group of old friends. In the meantime, a Wood Goblin named Gobble-O has been pestering Reynard for an invitation. Reynard says he will think it over but forgets completely about it. Mrs. Vixen prepares a feast, complete with four soups. Everything is served in Reynard's broad, shallow china dishes. Corney Crane cannot eat anything from dishes like these. Reynard is at first distressed by Corney's misfortunes, but soon he, like the others at table, finds it funny. The group is just getting rowdy in their fun, when they hear Gobble-O making some lovely music. At this point Corney makes a stately, polite departure, inviting just Reynard to his home for supper the following evening. Corney takes Gobble-O with him. At his cook's suggestion, he invites three of his cousins. The whole group except Reynard has a good time. The others take no notice of Reynard in his frustration and inability to eat from the tall vases. Reynard reflects on his bad behavior of the evening before. Gobble-O sings a song about the blessings of kindness as opposed to tit for tat. We should tit-for-tat kindnesses rather than insults. Reynard apologizes to Corney. In the meantime, the cook has borrowed some dishes out of which Reynard can eat. The additions to the usual story include the motivating experience of being sociable, the addition of table-mates and of the Wood Goblin, and the closing reconciliation. This is perhaps the first time that I have seen the feeding of the stork--and then of the fox--go on in a social situation involving other people. Gobble-O, it turns out, is added to the story to compound Reynard's guilt and Corney's revenge. The story often ends with insight, but I do not remember it ending elsewhere with an apology and a reconciliation.
Hodder and Stoughton Limited
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