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The Fox in World Literature: Reflections on a "Fictional Animal"

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The article discusses the role of the fox in international folktales, both written and oral. The animal is taken to be the incarnation of cunning, slyness, perfidy, and even wickedness. However, more positive qualities and faculties, such as an ingenious mind, a readiness to care for and help others, quickness, and circumspection are also recognized. This is a sign of the ambivalence considered to be characteristic for all animals. The content and motifs in European or European-influenced fox narratives are most often predicated by descriptions that go back to antiquity. Some Asian fox narratives, too, can be traced far back, but they diverge markedly from the European ones. While the role of the fox in fables and animal tales in particular is subjected to extreme fluctuations in its valence, the same can hardly be said for magic tales. Here, the fox is mostly encountered in the role of a grateful (helpful) animal.
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Asian Folklore Studies, 1 January 2006, Vol.65(2), pp.133-160
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peer_reviewed
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03852342 (ISSN)