Märchen vom Frieden: Wie man Kriege vermeidet oder anfängt--Alte deutsche Tierfabeln

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Barkow, Nick
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Research Projects
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Here are eleven fables that appeared in German between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. Several, like the fable of the large animals against the insects by Gerhard von Minden, came originally from the Romulus collection. Other authors include Ulrich Boner, Heinrich der Teichner, Burckhard Waldis, Hans Wilhelm Kirchof, and Erasmus Alberus. To my surprise, Heinrich Steinhöwel is not so much as mentioned. An excellent introduction, Fabeln für Erwachsene und Kinder, gives a biography for each fabulist and characterizes fables as Warnlieder. In them, the common people could vent their anger and ridicule the authorities, whether civil or ecclesiastical. Each fable has a double-title: first a catchy phrase like Ein lächerlicher Anlass (A Ridiculous Provocation) and then an indication of the characters involved. Thus the first fable's sub-title is How war broke out between the four-legged animals and the birds. I am impressed by the good way in which fables are told at greater length than I am accustomed to in fables. Most fables here take up about five full pages of two columns. Of course, the pages are only 5½ square. The fable of the horse and stag (21) has the man bring his horse-riding implements only after he has dispatched the stag and returned the meadow to the horse. Customarily in this fable he already has the horse harnessed as part of the battle. Some of the texts, especially Die Grossen gegen die Kleinen (26), are colorful, colloquial, and even scatological. For me, one of the most impressive of the fables is Der arrangierte Krieg (31). A stork and a fox share their disappointment at catching fewer frogs and mice, respectively, for food. Together they plot to give reports, stork to mice and fox to frogs, of an impending armed attack. When the mice and frogs do advance against each other in battle, there are plenty of storks and foxes on hand to eat the victims! The six simple colored illustrations fit in perfectly.
Verlag Hanseatische Edition
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