Fabulous Beasts: Renaissance Animal Lore: An Exhibition
. The Folger Shakespeare Library , The Library . Washington D.C.
N7660.F64 1993 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
MetadataShow full item record
This is an exhibition catalogue from an exhibit done by and at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., June 24 to October 16, 1993. It is a large-format pamphlet of twenty-age pages, with slightly less stiff paper covers. I am surprised to see how frequently fable materials show up in these pages. The cover and title-page illustration of the lion's court, e.g., comes from Bidpai's The Morall Philosophie of Doni done in 1570. The key to the exhibit may come in these sentences from the introduction: To the average man and woman of the 16th or 17th century, everything in the natural world was part of a web of knowledge connected through visual and verbal images. Animals, like the rest of nature, had hidden meanings and qualities that people were meant to comprehend and learn from. Because of the exhibit's chosen time frame, emblem books assume a particular importance in the exhibit. This exhibition explores an 'emblematic' view of the animal world and the Renaissance language of symbol and metaphor that portrayed that world as a 'mirror of our life.' Early pages present animal examples in scripture, animal history, Egyptian religion, classical mythology, and ancient allegory. In Case 6, we first encounter fable in the form of Juno and the Peacock. Cases 7 and 8 then focus directly on fables, with contributions from Ogilby, Barlow, Faerno, Bidpai, and Reynard. Case 9 begins the presentation of emblem books, which include many fables. Case 13 focuses on Shakespeare's use of emblem, fable, and proverb. Here I learned that Shakespeare himself was attacked by Robert Greene as an upstart crow beautified with our feathers in a reference to BF. The pamphlet's last pages focus on the lion--from Androcles to Bert Lahr--and on three emblems for readers to decipher on their own. There is a closing bibliography that includes Handford, Hodnett, and Varty. I am pleased to have found this catalogue. Ex libris Patrick Garabedian.