As a term of English literary criticism, the word “fable”, adapted from the Latin “fabula”, meaning a tale, or narrative story, has two main areas of signification, usually depending on whether it is preceded by a definite or indefinite article. “The fable” of a work refers to the plot, or story, of a composition; whereas “a fable” describes any short, allegorical story in which animals or inanimate things communicate with each other in human speech in order to convey a pragmatic, or moral, lesson. It is this second sense of the term, now by far the more prominent in literary usage, which this article describes.
In broad terms, a beast fable, or apologue as it is occasionally called (see separate entry), is a …
Gordon, Ian. "Fable". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 28 December 2006
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=371, accessed 21 February 2017.]