The Most Delectable History of Reynard the Fox
Calderon, W. Frank
This is a good, readable prose version of the Reynard story in twenty-five chapters, with a good introduction and notes. Jacobs had just done an Aesop for Macmillan and so naturally turned to a Reynard. He says in his preface that he has attempted to provide a text for children with some indication of folklore and literary history for adults. The text, he says, is a resuscitation and adaptation of Felix Summerley's (that is, Henry Cole's) earlier version. As to the material for adults, he provides here only a quick summary of the work of many, a larger version of which he promises in the Bibliotheque de Carabas. The notes are helpful on names and variants like the story only referred to here of Reynard's adultery with Ereswine (Hirsent). This text has provided me with a delightful way to move through a story I am learning better and better. The illustrations occur mostly as parts of text-pages, augmented by ten full-page illustrations with blank verso. Jacobs uses prose throughout. A sample of the smaller illustrations is Tiburt with a crutch and multiple bandages after his bad experience in the priest's barn (50). Another is the silhouette presentation of the march to the gallows on 73. Those who want to read one exciting chapter might want to try XII (74), in which Reynard makes his very skillful confession before he is to be hanged. It is a masterpiece of turning hostility into opportunity. The same happens with the two parts of his later defense in XIX (146) and XXI (172). Four fables are described by Reynard as being pictured on a mirror which he says he had entrusted to Bellin to give to the Queen (180-188): stag and horse, ass and dog, fox and cat, and wolf and crane. Of course this gift is all a lie! The Reynard of this volume is a thoroughgoing liar and scoundrel! The cover has a lovely gold-embossed illustration of FC. The outer spine is cracking up and falling away.
Macmillan and Co.