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Volume6 /2022 / Issue1

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  • Search within this article:
    AboutPremodern Fables Compared

    Editor’s Introduction

    AboutPremodern Fables Compared

    Editor’s Introduction

    The papers in this forum explore various components of reception theory related to fables, including their audience, translations, narrative devices, and their implicit and explicit political and moral underpinning. Often inserted in a wider canvas, both their initial location and their later wanderings in many lands and languages are crucial to their overall understanding.

    Several concentrate on the reception of various recensions of Kalīla wa Dimna. A pragmatic strand of reception theory suggests that the meanings of texts and their subsequent interpretations vary over time, and are historically relative. On that basis, as István Kristó-Nagy asks, should Kalīla wa Dimna be recognized as a work of philosophy as Ibn al-Muqaffa‘ himself had envisioned, or with modern students of Middle Eastern intellectual history, as an example of advice literature? Christine van Ruymbeke investigates reactions to Kalīla wa Dimna in premodern France. How was it translated and how did it influence French literary history? And Olga M. Davidson focuses on Ferdowsi’s provision of a genealogy of the Iranian reception of the fables collected in Kalīla wa Dimna. What did the poet intend to achieve by highlighting the various Persian recensions of the text, and how did he integrate that discussion into his own Shāhnāma? Ferdowsi’s explicit reference to the way that the fables accrued in fame and found a safe haven in verse implicitly justifies his far more daring venture of preserving memories of long vanished deeds and dynasties.

    The fables collected in Kalīla wa Dimna were not the only itinerant stories to circulate in the premodern world. Do traveling characters, tropes and allegories shapeshift to reflect their immediate historical context, or do they carry multiple origins and layers of cultural exchange that defy spatial and temporal boundaries? To that question, Guy Ron-Gilboa’s paper studies the genealogy of “The Tale of Solomon and the Ants” as it travels back and forth Islamic, Jewish and Christian contexts.

    Finally, fables and stories have long been a staple of political discourse. To what effect is the fantastic factualized in premodern retellings? The Indic fable of “The Dancing Peacock,” mediated through Buddhist Pāli texts, provides several parallels to an episode in the Histories of Herodotus. Greg Nagy asks if those parallels point to an Indian fable indigenized in classical Greek literature, and what the differing reactions to problems of wealth, power, and prestige reveal about their respective historical contexts.

    Cite this passage

    Editor’s Introduction

    The papers in this forum explore various components of reception theory related to fables, including their audience, translations, narrative devices, and their implicit and explicit political and moral underpinning. Often inserted in a wider canvas, both their initial location and their later wanderings in many lands and languages are crucial to their overall understanding.

    Several concentrate on the reception of various recensions of Kalīla wa Dimna. A pragmatic strand of reception theory suggests that the meanings of texts and their subsequent interpretations vary over time, and are historically relative. On that basis, as István Kristó-Nagy asks, should Kalīla wa Dimna be recognized as a work of philosophy as Ibn al-Muqaffa‘ himself had envisioned, or with modern students of Middle Eastern intellectual history, as an example of advice literature? Christine van Ruymbeke investigates reactions to Kalīla wa Dimna in premodern France. How was it translated and how did it influence French literary history? And Olga M. Davidson focuses on Ferdowsi’s provision of a genealogy of the Iranian reception of the fables collected in Kalīla wa Dimna. What did the poet intend to achieve by highlighting the various Persian recensions of the text, and how did he integrate that discussion into his own Shāhnāma? Ferdowsi’s explicit reference to the way that the fables accrued in fame and found a safe haven in verse implicitly justifies his far more daring venture of preserving memories of long vanished deeds and dynasties.

    The fables collected in Kalīla wa Dimna were not the only itinerant stories to circulate in the premodern world. Do traveling characters, tropes and allegories shapeshift to reflect their immediate historical context, or do they carry multiple origins and layers of cultural exchange that defy spatial and temporal boundaries? To that question, Guy Ron-Gilboa’s paper studies the genealogy of “The Tale of Solomon and the Ants” as it travels back and forth Islamic, Jewish and Christian contexts.

    Finally, fables and stories have long been a staple of political discourse. To what effect is the fantastic factualized in premodern retellings? The Indic fable of “The Dancing Peacock,” mediated through Buddhist Pāli texts, provides several parallels to an episode in the Histories of Herodotus. Greg Nagy asks if those parallels point to an Indian fable indigenized in classical Greek literature, and what the differing reactions to problems of wealth, power, and prestige reveal about their respective historical contexts.

    Editor’s Introduction

    Editor’s Introduction

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    AboutPremodern Fables Compared

    Editor’s Introduction

    The papers in this forum explore various components of reception theory related to fables, including their audience, translations, narrative devices, and their implicit and explicit political and moral underpinning. Often inserted in a wider canvas, both their initial location and their later wanderings in many lands and languages are crucial to their overall understanding.

    Several concentrate on the reception of various recensions of Kalīla wa Dimna. A pragmatic strand of reception theory suggests that the meanings of texts and their subsequent interpretations vary over time, and are historically relative. On that basis, as István Kristó-Nagy asks, should Kalīla wa Dimna be recognized as a work of philosophy as Ibn al-Muqaffa‘ himself had envisioned, or with modern students of Middle Eastern intellectual history, as an example of advice literature? Christine van Ruymbeke investigates reactions to Kalīla wa Dimna in premodern France. How was it translated and how did it influence French literary history? And Olga M. Davidson focuses on Ferdowsi’s provision of a genealogy of the Iranian reception of the fables collected in Kalīla wa Dimna. What did the poet intend to achieve by highlighting the various Persian recensions of the text, and how did he integrate that discussion into his own Shāhnāma? Ferdowsi’s explicit reference to the way that the fables accrued in fame and found a safe haven in verse implicitly justifies his far more daring venture of preserving memories of long vanished deeds and dynasties.

    The fables collected in Kalīla wa Dimna were not the only itinerant stories to circulate in the premodern world. Do traveling characters, tropes and allegories shapeshift to reflect their immediate historical context, or do they carry multiple origins and layers of cultural exchange that defy spatial and temporal boundaries? To that question, Guy Ron-Gilboa’s paper studies the genealogy of “The Tale of Solomon and the Ants” as it travels back and forth Islamic, Jewish and Christian contexts.

    Finally, fables and stories have long been a staple of political discourse. To what effect is the fantastic factualized in premodern retellings? The Indic fable of “The Dancing Peacock,” mediated through Buddhist Pāli texts, provides several parallels to an episode in the Histories of Herodotus. Greg Nagy asks if those parallels point to an Indian fable indigenized in classical Greek literature, and what the differing reactions to problems of wealth, power, and prestige reveal about their respective historical contexts.