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Martin Wallen

Fox

From when we are very young we are likely to hear stories involving foxes, and these are likely to affect our views concerning these creatures as we grow older. In Fox, Martin Wallen looks at how foxes are viewed in different cultures, and how this has shaped our relationship with them.

Aristotle classified foxes as lower creatures, since they burrowed in the earth, but also as 'wicked and villainous'. Wallen shows how this view developed over time, with the fox being portrayed as a cunning rascal in folk tales. In such tales Reynard was often cunning enough to get away with his crimes, but in the Christianised versions he was more likely to get his comeuppance. Foxes are also prominent in non-western cultures, such as Japan, where spirit-foxes may take human form. The book has chapters on how our low view of foxes has encouraged us to persecute and exploit them via foxhunting and the trade in fox fur. The last chapter looks at the role of the fox in the cinema, showing how it is used to reflect the complex relationships between people.

My one quibble with the book is that it seems to be classified as a natural history book. The book does have information about the different species of foxes and their habits, but I would say that it is more about humans than about foxes. But as long as you know what you're getting, you will find this book an interesting and enjoyable read.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 206 pages  
ISBN: 1861892977
Salesrank: 1589483
Weight:0.7 lbs
Published: 2006 Reaktion Books
Amazon price $15.86
Marketplace:New from $11.44:Used from $3.00
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 208 pages  
ISBN: 1861892977
Salesrank: 213866
Weight:0.7 lbs
Published: 2006 Reaktion Books
Amazon price £12.95
Marketplace:New from £7.08:Used from £1.42
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 206 pages  
ISBN: 1861892977
Salesrank: 246877
Weight:0.7 lbs
Published: 2006 Reaktion Books
Amazon price CDN$ 16.88
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 13.61:Used from CDN$ 6.50
Buy from Amazon.ca





Product Description
We know very little about the fox and its habits—and our ignorance, Martin Wallen argues, is rooted in the fox’s bad reputation. Lowly, sly, and classified as vermin, foxes raid henhouses and garbage bins, spread disease, and injure domestic pets. At the same time, foxes are often considered beautiful, mysterious, and even oddly human. This book is the first to fully explore the fox as the object of both derision and fascination, from the forests of North America to the deserts of Africa to the Arctic tundra.

Whether portrayed as an unrepentant thief, a shape-shifter, or an outlaw, the fox’s primary purpose in literature, Wallen demonstrates, is to disrupt human order. In Chinese folklore, for example, the fox becomes a cunning mistress, luring human men away from their wives. Wallen also discusses the numerous ways in which fox-related terms have entered the vernacular, from “foxy lady” to the process of “foxing,” or souring beer during fermentation. Thoughtful and illuminating, Fox shows that this lovely creature is as beguiling as it is controversial.


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