Journal of Romance Studies

Animal leaders and helpers: from the classical tales of Charles Perrault to the postmodern fables of Angela Carter and Patrick Chamoiseau

Journal of Romance Studies (2011), 11, (2), 75–88.

Abstract

This article aims to show how animal fables and tales, thanks to, rather than in spite of, their metaphorical or allegorical content, can broaden our perceptions and constructions of interspecies relationships. It considers to what degree the presence of the natural world and animals is used by writers to challenge not only the moral conventions and expected structures of these literary forms, but also traditional images of non-human beings, of the natural world and of human relationships with non-human beings. The fundamental role of these genres in promoting human and non-human relationships and offering new constructions of nature-culture will be outlined, analysing ‘Le Chat botté’ [‘Puss-in-Boots’], one of the founding Western tales, together with one of its contemporary interpretations by Angela Carter to illustrate those points, before broadening the conclusion with reference to a Creole animal tale by contemporary Martiniquan writer Patrick Chamoiseau.

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Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattar (1975) Kafka: Pour une littérature mineure (Paris: Editions de Minuit). Kafka: Pour une littérature mineure Google Scholar

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Garnett, David (1974) Master Cat (London: Macmillan). Master Cat Google Scholar

Haraway, Donna (2008) When Species Meet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press). When Species Meet Google Scholar

La Fontaine, Jean de (1938) [1678] Discours à Madame de la Sablière, ed Henri Busson and Ferdinand Gohin (Geneva: Libraire Droz). Discours à Madame de la Sablière Google Scholar

Le Guin, Ursula (1994) [1987] Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences (London: Penguin). Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences Google Scholar

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Perrault, Charles (1999) [1697] Contes de ma mère l’Oye (Paris: Gallimard). Contes de ma mère l’Oye Google Scholar

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Ricoeur, Paul (1997) [1975] La Métaphore vive (Paris: Seuil). La Métaphore vive Google Scholar

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Warner, Marina (1994) From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and their Tellers (London: Vintage). From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and their Tellers Google Scholar

Warner, Marina ed. (1996) Wonder Tales: Six Stories of Enchantment (London: Vintage). Wonder Tales: Six Stories of Enchantment Google Scholar

Wirtjes, Hanneke (1991) The Middle English Physiologus (Oxford: Oxford University Press). The Middle English Physiologus Google Scholar

Wolfe, Carry (2009) ‘Human, All Too Human: “Animal Studies” and the Humanities’, Publications of the Modern Languae Association of America, March, 124.2, 564–75. Human, All Too Human: “Animal Studies” and the Humanities 124.2 564 75 Google Scholar

Zipes, Jack (1991) [1988] Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion (London and New York: Routledge). Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion Google Scholar

Zipes, Jack (2004) Speaking Out: Story Telling and Creative Drama for Children (London and New York: Routledge). Speaking Out: Story Telling and Creative Drama for Children Google Scholar

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Desblache, Lucile