Fable

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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  • The Literary Encyclopedia. WORLD HISTORY AND IDEAS: A CROSS-CULTURAL VOLUME.

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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 form of allegory. It tells a story on one level which clearly

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Citation: Gordon, Ian. "Fable". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 28 December 2006 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=371, accessed 21 May 2024.]

371 Fable 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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