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History of Italian Literature 101: The Folk-Tale and its Figures

Foreword


The grotesque domain unveils a complex connection with human belief systems, folklore and “subcultures”, evoking a sense of macabre fascination. Within this series, we shall delve into the deep interplay between grotesque aesthetics and comic discourse, always keeping an eye out for comedy and satire. The captivating evolution of grotesque crosses multiple historical eras, each one bearing distinct comical genres that reflect the societies from which they emerged. By scrutinizing the historical contexts, we aim to discern the pivotal role they play in shaping humorous expressions, with a particular emphasis on the literary grotesque and its association with comedy in folklore. This series belongs to a course of Italian literature. Our focus shall concentrate on Italian comic literature, clarifying its intricate connections to its Latin and Greek origins.


Additionally, we venture into the realm of fables, timeless narratives that transcend cultural boundaries, leaving an indelible mark on our perception of humor. Both folktales and fables contribute to our collective understanding of how hilarity should be portrayed, providing enduring narratives that continue to resonate until now. Our exploration reveals that the quest for laughter remains a universal pursuit, intimately woven into the fabric of humanity and its literary creations.


This 101 series will be composed of seven articles, as follows:



History of Italian Literature 101: The Folk-Tale and its Figures


Folklore, occasionally hidden or shut out from the higher forms of that same culture, is the starting point of any culture. Understanding this is crucial in order to see the large and articulated impact that this specific branch of tradition had on popular and major history. Folklore comprises the oral traditions, customs, and rituals shared within a particular group or culture. It also includes material culture and rituals associated with celebrations such as Christmas, weddings, folk dances, and initiation rites. These cultural expressions are transmitted informally from one generation to the next through verbal instruction or demonstration. As a result, they are subject to constitutive uncertainty.

Over time in Italy, various cultures and people have succeeded one another, each of which has left its traces in the popular imagination. Some elements also come from Christianization, especially those concerning demons or other figures linked to popular Catholicism, other's agriculture, and mythological elements. Consequently, this is visible in the literature of all forms. This connection is important as it underlines the systemic action of folklore. However, the importance of studies on folkloric literature arose in more recent times. Prior to that, speaking on popular culture had a negative counterpart and meaning, left on the edge of academic studies. 


In this sense, folklore stands as a timeless thread, weaving together narratives that reflect the cultural ethos and collective imagination of generations past. Within this rich tradition, the themes of folk tales and fables have endured, resonating across epochs and captivating audiences with their timeless allure. It becomes evident that these narratives serve as more than entertainment; they are windows into the soul of people, offering insights into their values, beliefs, and cultural identity.

At the heart of this analysis of Italian folkloric literature lies the concept of the grotesque, a motif that pervades both the content and form of these tales. The grotesque, with its fusion of the bizarre and the familiar, the comic and the macabre, serves as a lens through which to explore the complexities of human experience. It is through the lens of the grotesque that Italian folk tales transcend the ordinary, offering glimpses into the darker recesses of the human psyche while simultaneously celebrating the absurdities of life.



Figure 1: Children’s Games (Bruegel the Elder, 1560).


The interplay between tradition and innovation plays a major role in tracing the evolution of folkloric motifs across centuries of storytelling. From the ancient myths of pre-Christian Italy to the medieval romances of the Renaissance, and onward to the modern reinterpretations of contemporary authors, it is possible to witness the enduring vitality of Italian folklore, as it adapts and transforms in response to changing social and cultural landscapes.

The cast of characters are as diverse and colorful as the landscapes they inhabit: tricksters and fools, wise old crones and cunning animals, heroes, and villains. These characters, with their archetypal significance and larger-than-life personalities, serve as vessels for exploring universal themes of morality, justice, and the human condition (Curtius, 1973).


The Trickster: Anthropology

A trickster is a character found in mythology, folklore, and literature who is known for their cunning, mischief, and ability to bend or break societal norms and rules. Tricksters often use their intelligence and wit to play pranks, deceive others, or challenge authority figures. They are boundary-crossers, disrupting the established order and often serving as agents of change or transformation within stories. Tricksters can take on various forms, ranging from gods and goddesses to animals or even humans with extraordinary abilities. Across different cultures, the trickster archetype appears in numerous myths and tales, embodying themes of ambiguity, unpredictability, and the subversion of traditional values. 

Tricksters usually surpass what are considered the pillars of knowledge and living, but fail to integrate with a tribe or community governed by laws corresponding to a common ideal of reason. This figure emerges as a dynamic character embodying cunning intellect or esoteric knowledge, which they employ to play pranks, flout norms, and defy conventional boundaries. Tricksters, ubiquitous across diverse cultural mythologies, epitomize boundary-crossing, as described by Lewis Hyde. They gleefully transgress societal and natural norms, disrupting the status quo only to reestablish it on their terms.


This preference for bending or shattering rules often manifests through deceptive schemes or acts of theft, showcasing the trickster's blend of cunning and folly. They boldly challenge, disrupt, or ridicule authority, embodying a spirit of irreverence and subversion.

Across myriad cultures, tales abound of tricksters—clever beings who employ guile to secure sustenance, pilfer treasures, or simply stir up mischief. 



Figure 2: Loki in the Manuscript (Sigurðsson, 18th century).


Analyzing at least one trickster figure can be helpful. Loki is one of the clearest examples of what a trickster stands for, and has also an extensive bibliography, useful when it comes to study folkloric figures. The breakdown for this for can be divided into three major aspects: treachery, apocalypse and grotesque. 

Loki, a central figure in Norse mythology, is one of the most renowned and frequently mentioned deities, with many myths relying on his intervention. Identified with Lóðurr, he is part of the divine triad that creates humanity, and it's through Loki that the gods obtain their most useful and precious tools. Despite his benevolent portrayal, Loki is often depicted as a troublemaker (Campbell, 1995).

Loki is an ambiguous and liminal figure, existing at the intersection of the gods' society and that of other mythical entities, such as giants and dwarfs. He embodies the archetype of the trickster, acting amorally and outside conventional rules, yet his actions are necessary for the divine order. Although often associated with chaos and destruction, Loki's mischief is often mitigated by his buffoonery and ingenious deception.


Ambiguity surrounds Loki's nature due to his associations with fire and air, elements symbolizing both creation and destruction. His relationships with the gods are complex, as he is both an ally and antagonist, sometimes aiding Odin or Thor while also causing trouble for them. Loki's gender-fluid and transformative abilities further contribute to his enigmatic persona, as seen in his various shape-shifting exploits. 


Despite his trickery, Loki's actions sometimes serve a greater purpose, such as in the creation of Odin's eight-legged horse, Sleipnir. His role as a boundary-crosser and disruptor of societal norms aligns with the trickster archetype described by Lewis Hyde, embodying sacred amorality and blurring distinctions between right and wrong.

Etymologically, Loki's name is associated with fire or air, reflecting his connections to both elements. Some scholars also liken Loki to the spider, a creature associated with creation and mischief. Whether viewed as a malevolent force or a necessary agent of chaos, Loki's complexity and ambiguity make him a quintessential trickster deity in mythology (Filoramo, 1998).



Figure 3: Idunn et Loki (Bauer, 1911). 


However, it should be kept in mind that examples of the trickster figure are also found in other literary characters, such as Pulcinella, analyzed in the other articles of this series. In this sense, the figure of the trickster assumes the comedic traits useful in this research. Their actions are so undeniably unconventional that they become pure comedy and a great portrayal of what it means to be grotesque. 

Laughter in folktales isn't just a frivolous addition; it serves multifaceted roles. It acts as a cathartic release, allowing both characters and audiences to momentarily escape the anxieties and hardships woven into the narrative. The trickster's antics, for instance, might elicit chuckles through clever deception, offering a temporary break from the hero's struggles. This comic relief fosters community connection by uniting listeners in shared amusement, creating a sense of solidarity even as they navigate the tale's challenges (Propp, 1976).


Beyond mere amusement, laughter in folktales can also be a powerful tool of criticism. The trickster, through their subversive humor, often mocks societal norms and exposes hypocrisy. Their laughter challenges authority figures and established power structures, encouraging audiences to question the status quo. Satirical elements hidden within the humor can act as a veiled commentary on social injustices or political realities. In this way, laughter becomes a subversive weapon, subtly pushing boundaries and prompting critical reflection.

However, it's important to acknowledge the complexity of laughter in folktales. Laughter directed at marginalized groups or based on harmful stereotypes can reinforce negative biases and perpetuate oppressive structures. Therefore, a critical analysis of the laughter's target and underlying message is crucial.

By examining the multifaceted roles of laughter in folktales, one shall gain deeper insights into their cultural functions and social significance. Laughter becomes more than just amusement; it reflects shared values, criticizes power dynamics, and prompts critical evaluation, highlighting the enduring relevance of these timeless oral traditions (Le Goff, 1985).



Trickster and the New

The figure of the trickster has long been a subject of debate, characterized by its elusive and epistemologically boundless nature. Indeed, these are precisely the two pillars upon which this figure rests, exemplifying contrasts and opposites condensed into a single deity. These characteristics best define the crux that ties together the entire trickster mythology: contradiction—they are demiurges, yet they destroy the created. If they die, they surpass death and rise again; their cunning often becomes stupidity. Inevitable are the comparisons with historical personalities and our pantheons. Tricksters, typical of the oldest polytheistic religions and inseparably linked to nature and the extraordinary, are manifold, often embodying the Greek concept of kainòs from the classical age, meaning new and unheard of, a newness that at its mere mention frightens and sends shivers down the spine (Guidorizzi, 2011).



Figure 4: Medea the Sorceress (Prinsep, 1880).


Etymologically speaking, the term "kainòs" holds a dual significance, much like the duplicitous nature of the trickster, conveying both the unheard of and the new, carrying with it something obscure and unknowable. Through the linguistic evolution of the term, however, "kainòs," with the advent of apologetics, loses its negative connotations. The remnants of the lemma in Italian are scarce, preserved only in geological contexts, to the extent that the Greek meaning has completely crumbled away, surviving only in the most classical Greek contexts.


It is precisely here that the reflection on "kainòs" in Greek literature of the fifth century begins, more precisely in 431 BCE. In this regard, it is useful to cite lines 298-299 of Euripides' Medea: "Skaioisi mhn gar kaina prospherwn sophà/doxeis archeios kou sophos pephukenai,” (If you try to show some new clever innovation to the inept / you will seem useless and hardly skilled at all), where Medea reflects on the condition of the "barbarian" and the "new" citizen. This leads to a reflection on the role of the intellectual and the "kainòs" within society, in which Medea naturally plays the leading role. This condition of trickster/outcast namely represents the lack of social acceptance and the consequent exclusion from the boundaries of what is considered acceptable human behavior. This occurs because of their exuberant trickster personalities which exceed the limit in this case (Grilli, 1999).


Thanks to this reference it is possible to link the trickster to another important aspect, their grotesque side. The intricate relationship between the trickster archetype and the grotesque finds profound expression in the Norse mythological figure of Loki mentioned previously. Loki, known for his cunning intellect, shape-shifting abilities, and propensity for mischief, embodies the essence of both the trickster and the grotesque. His actions often disrupt the established order of the divine realm, challenging the boundaries of morality and societal norms. One of Loki's most infamous exploits involves his role in the death of Baldr, the beloved god of light, which ultimately leads to Ragnarök, the apocalyptic battle of Norse mythology. This act of treachery and its catastrophic consequences exemplify the grotesque through its portrayal of betrayal, tragedy, and the unraveling of cosmic order. Furthermore, Loki's transformation into various creatures, including a mare who gives birth to Odin's eight-legged horse Sleipnir, underscores his association with the grotesque, blurring the lines between human and animal, divine and monstrous. Through Loki as an example, myths confront the darker aspects of existence, exploring themes of deception, chaos, and the inherent ambiguity of the human condition, thus showcasing the intricate interplay between the trickster and the grotesque in mythological storytelling (Marinuzzi, 2009; Bertolino, 2014).



Figure 5: Diagram of The Archetypes (Jung, Neill, 2018).


The influence of the trickster archetype extends into our culture, albeit subtly, yet significantly. This role is particularly evident in the field of psychoanalysis, notably through the work of Karl Gustav Jung and his theory of archetypes (Jung, 1959). According to Jung, archetypes are universal patterns imbued with emotional content, residing within the collective unconscious—a repository of latent traces from humanity's ancestral past. From this collective unconscious emerges the trickster archetype, representing the least controllable aspect of ourselves—the facet capable of unmasking our true selves through deception or playful antics. However, it's essential not to view the trickster archetype as merely negative or trivial, despite the occasional unpleasantness of its antics. Instead, it embodies the most spontaneous and least developed aspect of our psyche, suppressed by societal conventions and personal limitations, barriers that the trickster naturally transcends. This primal essence can be seen as our purest and most untamed soul, disrupting our regulated lives to evoke both tears and laughter. In doing so, it reveals the arbitrary nature of our norms, embodying the inherent duality that characterizes both the trickster figure and each individual.



The Trickster: Literature and Fables 

In order to find works of literature concerning the trickster and folklore, it is mandatory to review two main works about fables and animals. The linking with nature is fundamental, as they are part of it in the most ambiguous way, possibly changing shape into animals or being animals themselves. Examples can be found in the work of anthropologists such as Silvana Miceli in his work, Demiurgo Trasgressivo (1986). Despite being connected with major deities, the spirit of trickster in North American indigenous culture, she explains, is rooted within the animal kingdom, in particular with the coyote, and the European counterpart of the fox. 


Why the fox and not other species is clear to most of us even without explanation, and that is the strength of folkloric culture.

The fox has been steeped in a rich tapestry of legends and symbolism spanning ancient and modern cultures worldwide. In Europe, it is often revered as a symbol of cunning, as it adeptly evades the most challenging situations with grace and agility. As a creature of the night, the fox is also associated with sexuality and is often depicted with a red coat. In Christian symbolism however, the fox, like many other totems, was often linked to evil due to its deceptive hunting tactics. By feigning death to lure unsuspecting prey, the fox was perceived as a symbol of greed, heresy, and deceit.



Figure 6: Kelileh va Demneh (15th Century).


However, the literary reasons shall be explained following the work of Marcozzi and Crimi in their book, Dante e il Mondo Animale (2013), referring to the realm of fables in medieval times.  

In his essay, Marcozzi underlines the importance of the “exempla”, a particular category of moral anecdote, used to illustrate a point. The key factors on which he focuses revolve around the use of fables to do so, as they were immediate and clear for the readers.


Fables and fairy tales are both rich traditions of storytelling, each with their own distinct characteristics and purposes. Fables typically feature anthropomorphic animals or inanimate objects as characters and convey moral lessons or ethical principles through allegorical narratives. These stories often end with a clear and direct moral statement, intended to instruct the audience on proper behavior or decision-making. A classic example of a fable is "The Fox and the Grapes” attributed to Aesop, which imparts the lesson that "it is easy to despise what you cannot get." In this fable, a hungry fox tries in vain to reach a bunch of grapes hanging from a vine. After several failed attempts, the fox gives up and declares that the grapes are probably sour anyway. This fable teaches the audience the folly of sour grapes, illustrating the concept of rationalization and the tendency to devalue what one cannot attain. 



Figure 7: Fox hunting (Winslow, 1893).


On the other hand, fairy tales are fantastical narratives that typically involve magic, supernatural beings, and themes of heroism, romance, and adventure. Unlike fables, fairy tales often lack explicit moral messages and instead focus on exploring universal themes such as good versus evil, the journey of self-discovery, and the triumph of love. Fairy tales frequently feature archetypal characters like princesses, witches, and dragons and often conclude with a happy ending, where justice is restored, and characters find fulfillment or redemption (Propp, 2000).


In medieval times, the use of animals was wide and also used in allegory. In addition to fables and fairy tales, another notable tradition in storytelling involving animals is found in bestiaries. Bestiaries were popular medieval manuscripts that cataloged various animals, often accompanied by moral or symbolic interpretations. Unlike fables, which use animals as characters to convey moral lessons through narrative, bestiaries presented animals as allegorical symbols, each with its own spiritual or moral significance. These manuscripts were influenced by classical and Christian traditions, blending natural history with religious teachings. Animals in bestiaries were often depicted with symbolic attributes and behaviors, serving as moral exemplars or warnings for human behavior. For example, to signify the devilish (the devil lurks everywhere) deceitful ability of the fox, the text of the Physiologus, a bestiary from the second century BE, describes one of its skills, put into practice when the fox is hungry. "After finding land with a bright red color, it rolls over it, so as to appear all bloodied; then it throws itself to the ground as if dead, holds its breath, and swells so much that it almost stops breathing. Birds, seeing it lying so swollen and bloodied, and seeing its tongue sticking out of its open mouth, believe it to be dead and descend to perch on it. The fox then grabs and devours them" (Physiologus, 26).

Bestiaries provided readers with a moral and spiritual framework through which to interpret the natural world, emphasizing the interconnectedness of the physical and metaphysical realms.



The Roman de Renart

Exploring the depths of folk tales and literature unveils the captivating archetype of the trickster, a figure whose enigmatic nature transcends cultural boundaries and embodies the essence of the comic and grotesque genre. In the rich tapestry of literary tradition, the Roman de Renart stands as a quintessential example, offering a vivid portrayal of the trickster archetype in its most intricate form. At the heart of this medieval French epic lies the cunning and irrepressible character of Renart the Fox, whose exploits and antics serve as a lens through which to examine the complexities of human nature and societal dynamics.

The Roman de Renart comprises a medieval literary cycle of allegorical fables found in Dutch, English, French, and German traditions. Its earliest known versions emerge in the latter part of the 12th century, and the genre enjoyed popularity throughout the late Middle Ages, persisting in chapbook form during the early modern period (Neri, 2006).



Figure 8: Scene of the Roman de Renart (Jacquemart Giélée, 1581).


Renart is a cunning red fox depicted as an anthropomorphic trickster. His exploits typically involve outsmarting other anthropomorphic animals for his own gain or evading their attempts at retaliation.

While Renart's character reappears in subsequent works, the foundational stories originated during the Middle Ages, penned by various authors. They are often regarded as parodies of medieval literature, including courtly romances and epic poems, while also serving as satirical commentary on political and religious institutions. In these narratives, the trickster fox, Renart, inhabits a society of talking animals such as lions, bears, wolves, and donkeys, rendering the stories a form of beast epic.


The plot of the Roman de Renart unfolds against the backdrop of a medieval animal kingdom, where Renart the Fox reigns supreme as the consummate trickster. Through a series of clever stratagems, Renart navigates the intricacies of court politics and social hierarchies, outwitting adversaries and allies alike with his wit and guile. From his daring escapades to his audacious confrontations with authority figures, Renart embodies the quintessential trickster, challenging conventional norms and defying expectations at every turn. These exploits include his interactions with other animals, his confrontations with authority figures such as King Noble the Lion and the court of animals, and his efforts to evade punishment for his misdeeds. The story is filled with themes of deception, betrayal, and social commentary, offering a satirical portrayal of medieval society through the lens of animal allegory (Mazzali, 2008).


The comparison with the courtly novel, as we know it with Chrétien de Troyes, is illuminating. Unlike the Arthurian one, King Noble the Lion's court is depicted as a place where conflicts are not resolved, and sometimes exacerbated, exposing the contradictions of feudal law. To the cunning one who knows the ways of the world and how to exploit them, a way always remains open to elude society's ordinances. In the conclusion of the adventure, the Arthurian novel and the Roman de Renart differ in terms of fable and anti-fable. This allows the hero of the courtly novel to travel the adventurous itinerary until reintegrated into the ideal society of the Round Table. He therefore becomes what he was initially without knowing that he lacks the Renartian world within him, that is whose characters are anchored to their essence in a way that just one circumstance is enough to reveal them. It is the encounter with Renart and his plots that brings out its typical nature: the bear's gluttony for honey, the wolf's voracity and stupidity, the cock's vain arrogance, the hare's cowardice (Neri, 2006).



Figure 9: Renart the fox (Griset, 1869).


Returning to Renart's Metamorphoses, the fox, the reader can see how the versatile, cunning, and also cruel nature of our character, portrayed with great imagination, always manages to prevail. In the tale of Renart the Magician, Renart undergoes a harsh and endless trial. Ysengrin accuses him of adultery with Hersant, his wife, Chantecler the cock for killing and devouring Dame Copee, the noble hen, and Bruno the bear for betraying him by promising him honey. Renart risks being condemned, but he manages to get away by proposing himself as an ambassador to the court of a non-existent King Isoris, who would offer his daughter in marriage to King Noble the Lion. Instead, he leaves France for Toledo, where he seizes magical arts. 

Upon his return to France, at the king's court, he delights them by magically creating the strangest animals and even a beautiful lioness, who promises to marry him. The king immediately courts her but perversely demands that her sex be constructed higher up, away from the fetid zone of excrement.

Central to the Roman de Renart is the portrayal of Renart as a character who transcends the boundaries of morality and decency, embracing the chaotic and unpredictable nature of existence. Renart's actions, often fueled by selfish desires and mischievous intent, blur the lines between right and wrong, embodying the inherent ambiguity of the trickster archetype. Whether manipulating his foes or exploiting the vulnerabilities of his allies, Renart embodies the essence of the grotesque, reveling in the absurdity and irrationality of human behavior (Le Goff, 1985).

Moreover, Renart's demiurgic characteristics imbue the narrative with a sense of cosmic irony, as his actions inadvertently shape the world around him. In the Roman de Renart, Renart's recklessness and cunning are portrayed as the catalysts for both chaos and creation, underscoring the interconnectedness of comedy and tragedy within the trickster archetype. Through his deceitful machinations and playful antics, Renart emerges as a symbol of the human condition, embodying the complexities and contradictions inherent in the human experience. 


Incorporating Vladimir Propp's insights on laughter and its depiction in folktales adds another layer of depth to the exploration of literature. In his seminal work Morphology of the Folktale, Propp delves into the structural analysis of fairy tales, highlighting the role of laughter as a powerful narrative device. He suggests that laughter serves not only as a source of entertainment but also as a mechanism for subverting social norms and challenging authority. Furthermore, in his later work On the Comic and Laughter, Propp explores the nature of humor, emphasizing its ability to disrupt established hierarchies and reveal the absurdity of human behavior.



Figure 10: Roman de Renart (Jacquemart Giélée, 18v-19r).


Turning attention to the corpus of the Roman de Renart, one encounters a rich tapestry of comedic elements woven throughout the tales of the trickster fox and his cohorts. The antics of Reynard and his fellow anthropomorphic animals often elicit laughter from the audience, showcasing the subversive power of humor in challenging conventional morality and social order. Whether it is Reynard outwitting adversaries with clever schemes or engaging in absurd and comical escapades, the tales of the Roman de Renart exemplify the timeless appeal of laughter in literature.

By examining Propp's theories alongside the narratives of the Roman de Renart, a deeper appreciation for the multifaceted nature of laughter in folktales emerges. It serves as a potent tool for satire, social critique, and even existential reflection, reminding scholars of the enduring power of humor to illuminate the human experience and transcend cultural boundaries.


The Roman de Renart serves as a compelling testament to the enduring allure of the trickster archetype in literature. Through the character of Renart the Fox, this medieval epic explores themes of deception, subversion, and the inherent absurdity of existence. As a symbol of human folly and ingenuity, Renart embodies the essence of the comic and grotesque genre, challenging readers to confront the complexities of human nature and societal dynamics. In this timeless tale of trickery and intrigue, the trickster emerges as a figure of profound significance, offering a glimpse into the depths of the human psyche and the mysteries of the human condition.


Italian Literary Examples

Other examples can be found in Italian literary tradition, often linked to the realm of fables, as seen above. In Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio, (1881) the fox is a cunning and deceitful character who plays a significant role in the protagonist Pinocchio's journey. Known simply as Fox this anthropomorphized animal is introduced as a sly trickster who, along with his accomplice the cat, manipulates Pinocchio for personal gain. Fox embodies the archetype of the trickster, using his wit and charm to deceive others. He presents himself as a trustworthy figure, offering false promises of wealth and success to Pinocchio, but ultimately leads him astray for his own selfish purposes. Fox's actions serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of naivety and the importance of discernment in the face of deception (Zavalloni, 1995). 

The character of Fox in Collodi serves as a cautionary figure, warning readers about the dangers of trusting strangers who offer quick fixes or easy paths to success. Through Fox, Collodi illustrates the importance of critical thinking and skepticism, urging readers to be wary of those who seek to exploit them for their own selfish motives.



Figure 11: The Fox and the Cat in Pinocchio (Chiostri, 1902). 


In Ariosto's epic poem Orlando Furioso (1516), the fox appears in Canto XVIII as a minor character amidst the larger backdrop of the paladins' battles and adventures. While not as central to the narrative as in Pinocchio, the fox in the Orlando Furioso still embodies traits of cunning and deception. Ariosto's fox participates in a humorous episode where he encounters the knight Astolfo, who is seeking a cure for his love-stricken companion. The fox engages in witty banter and outsmarts Astolfo, showcasing his cleverness and quick thinking. Unlike the malicious intent of the others foxes, Ariosto serves of it primarily as a comedic foil, adding levity to the epic tale while highlighting themes of wit and resourcefulness (Patota, 2015).

In summary, both fox characters in Pinocchio and Orlando Furioso exhibit traits of cunning and trickery, but their roles and significance differ within their respective narratives.


The cosmos of literature is richly adorned with diverse traditions, each offering its unique tapestry of characters, themes, and lessons. From the ancient fables of Aesop to the whimsical adventures of Pinocchio, and from the cunning exploits of Renart to the epic tales, literature serves as a mirror reflecting the complexities of the human condition. Through the lens of tricksters, grotesque figures, and timeless archetypes, the goal is self-discovery, contemplation, and boundless imagination. These narratives not only entertain but also enlighten, challenging readers to question their assumptions, confront their fears, and embrace the beauty of the unknown. In the end, it is through literature that it is possible to discover the true essence of what it means to be human, transcending boundaries of time, culture, and language to connect with the universal truths that unite cultures.


Bibliographical References

Bertolino, A. (2014). Loki. Il dio ingannatore del mito nordico. Edizioni Mediterranee.


Bonafin, M., (2006) Le malizie della volpe. Parola letteraria e motivi etnici nel Roman de Renart, Carocci


Campbell, J. (1995). L'eroe dai mille volti. Boringhieri.


Collodi, C. (2015). Le avventure di Pinocchio. Einaudi.


Curtius, E. R. (1973). European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. Bollingen Series / Princeton Press.


Filoramo, G. (1998). Manuale di storia delle religioni. Laterza.


Guidorizzi, G. (2002). Letteratura greca. Da Omero al secolo VI d.C.. Mondadori Università.


Jung, C. G. (1971). Gli archetipi dell'inconscio collettivo (1934-54). Bollati Boringhieri.


Le Goff, Jacques. (1985). Cultura del riso medievale. Laterza.


Marcozzi, L., & Crimi, G. (2013). Dante e il mondo animale. Carocci.


Marinuzzi, S. (2009). Miti e leggende dei vichinghi. Giunti Editore.


Mazzali, E. (2008). Il cavaliere e la volpe. Letteratura di corte fra XIII e XIV secolo. Carocci.

Miceli, S. (1984). Il demiurgo trasgressivo. Salerno editrice.


Neri, F. (2006). Introduzione al Roman de Renart. Sansoni.


Propp, V. J. (2000). Morfologia della fiaba. Einaudi.Propp, V. (2009). On the Comic and Laughter (J.-P. Debbèche & P. Perron, Eds.). University of Toronto Press.


Zavalloni, R. (1995). Pinocchio: il romanzo delle figure. Marsilio.




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