Reynard the Fox

Anne Louise Avery


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Bodleian Library
16 October 2023
ISBN: 9781851245550
480 pages

From the publisher

Reynard – a subversive, dashing, anarchic, aristocratic, witty fox from the watery lowlands of medieval East Flanders – is in trouble. He has been summoned to the court of King Noble the Lion, charged with all manner of crimes and misdemeanours. How will he pit his wits against his accusers – greedy Bruin the Bear, pretentious Courtoys the Hound or dark and dangerous Isengrim the Wolf – to escape the gallows?

Reynard was once the most popular and beloved character in European folklore, as familiar as Robin Hood, King Arthur or Cinderella. His character spoke eloquently for the unvoiced and disenfranchised, but also amused and delighted the elite, capturing hearts and minds across borders and societal classes for centuries.

Based on William Caxton’s bestselling 1481 English translation of the Middle Dutch, but expanded with new interpretations, innovative language and characterisation, this edition is an imaginative retelling of the Reynard story. With its themes of protest, resistance and duplicity fronted by a personable, anti-heroic Fox making his way in a dangerous and cruel world, this gripping tale is as relevant and controversial today as it was in the fifteenth century.

Anne Louise Avery presents the full, complicated glory of the silver-tongued predator and his milieu in Reynard the Fox, a tour de force of storytelling and a beautiful object in itself. A writer and art historian, Ms. Avery deploys a scholar’s fluency with medieval language, literature and religion and a raconteur’s ease with anecdote. - Wall Street Journal

Quite possibly the Book of the Year -

This is marvellously spirited and adroit storytelling and an exciting example of innovative translation. Anne Louise Avery communicates throughout sheer pleasure in the material and luxuriates in its lexical exuberance. Adding mischievous contemporary twists, she has wonderfully refreshed and revivified the medieval collection and shows how these traditional animal fables, with their large and lively cast of characters and their wicked and seductive protagonist, have lost none of their truth-telling power. - Marina Warner

A new/old tale based on meticulous, extensive scholarship, painstaking attention to detail, intimate knowledge of the manifold traditions that have gone into the making, through the ages, of this unfathomable fox and all his works. … sit back and let yourself be taken by the paw into Reynard’s world, and enjoy. - Dutch Crossing: Journal of Low Country Studies

The way Anne Louise Avery retells the story is exceptional. I found myself reading certain passages out loud. Avery has turned the fable into a wonderful book which I picture people reading to others sitting by an open fire perhaps. - Querine, bookseller