Tegelasvõrgustikud kahes raamatus Reinuvader Rebasest / Character networks in two books about Reynard the Fox


  • Risto Järv Eesti Kirjandusmuuseum / Estonian Literary Museum




võrgustikuanalüüs, Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald, Ernst Peterson-Särgava, rebase-eepos, euroopa muinasjutt, isikunimi, network analysis, Kreutzwald, Peterson-Särgava, Roman de Renart, European Folktale, personal name


Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwaldi „Reinuvader Rebane“ (1850) oli loomaeeposežanri esimeseks tutvustuseks eesti keeles. Ernst Peterson-Särgava kogumik „Ennemuistsed jutud Reinuvader Rebasest“ (1911) on sarnaste rebasejuttude valimik lastele. Mõlemas teoses on ühisosa eesti folkloorsete loomamuinasjuttudega. Võrgustikuanalüüsi kasutades analüüsitakse kahe raamatu tegelaskonda. Mõlemas teoses tegelastena esitatud loomade kogum ja nendevaheliste suhete võrgustik katab enamiku eesti loomamuinasjuttude põhitegelastest. Mõlemas teoses on täheldatav vaenuliku võrgustiku domineerimine sõbraliku võrgustiku üle. Tsensuurist ja enesetsensuurist tulenevad muutused raamatutes ei ole tegelasvõrgustikesse olulisi muutusi toonud.


Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald’s Reynard the Fox, a 12-chapter work of fiction loosely based on Johann Wolfgang  von Goethe’s epic poem Reineke Fuchs and Aleksander Friedrich Franz Hoffmann’s popular book Geschichte von Reineke dem Fuchs, first introduced the genre of the animal epic into the Estonian language. Ernst Peterson-Särgava’s collection of stories for children Old Tales about Reynard the Fox (1911) had a somewhat similar structure; most of its tales are connected with the fox and have been brought together by the author to form a 20-chapter book of tales for children. The former book on the fox more strongly resembles a animal epic, the latter rather appears to be a less rigorously connected collection of animal tales. Both works, however, have elements in common with the animal tales of Estonian folklore. Both introduce the tales of the animal epic with a tricksterly protagonist to the Estonian readership, yet the focus of the works is slightly different. Similarly to the animal epic, Kreutzwald’s book gives a survey of Reynard the Fox’s misdeeds as he is summoned to the court presided by the Lion, but after giving a skilful talk in his own defence the fox is judged to be not guilty and is promoted to become the ruler of the whole state in the end. Peterson-Särgava starts the description of the events from a little girl named Pille who lives at a farm close to the forest; thereafter different confrontations between the woodland creatures and their shenanigans concerning the old man and woman are described, while the book ends  with the fox’s death.

Both works have had to undergo censorship in their various editions. Several paragraphs were cut from the 1850 edition of Kreutzwald’s Reineke the Fox at the behest of the censor, and even more were omitted from the second edition. The cut text was mostly restored in the third edition (1869). In the first Soviet-time edition of Peterson-Särgava’s text, that appeared in 1947, the author made not only stylistic changes but also those prompted by self-censorship. The character networks of the books, however, have remained almost uninfluenced by censorship and the authors’ self-censorship; the only character omitted was God to whom the old man started to climb in Peterson-Särgava’s work.

Network analysis is used to study the characters of the two books. The communication of the characters is annotated as concerns communication at least one character is conscious of within the limits of an episode, as is the (positive or negative) modality of the communication.  Visual representation of the interaction of character networks is an efficient way of obtaining an overview both of a work’s characters as well as the relationships between them. Narratives such as literary stories about animals and animal tales serve as a good basis for analysing character pairs as in animal tales characters usually appear in twos with much dialogue between them. The network has been visualised using Gephi software. The number of animals represented as characters in Kreutzwald’s Reynard the Fox and Peterson-Särgava’s Old Tales about Reynard the Fox, as well as the network of the relationships between the animals covers most of the main characters of Estonian animal tales. The character lists of both books mostly contain the animals  who appear in the list of the top dozen most popular animals in the animal tales of Estonian folklore.

Reynard the Fox, the protagonist of both books, appears as the central character judging by the number of links connected to him. In Kreutzwald’s book also the lion, as well as the more important side characters the bear, the cat and the wolf appear in important positions in the network of characters connected  with the fox; in Peterson-Särgava’s book the positions are held by the wolf, the bear, the old man and his daughter Little Pille. The general outlook of the network is also influenced by the fact that several characters only appear once or twice in the book and have no independent roles from the perspective of the plot; Kreutzwald in particular has used (based on Goethe)  a lengthy list of animals who do not participate in other activities to make it obvious to the reader that there were indeed many animals who suffered from the fox’s actions. Both books mention a character other than the fox first and a part of the plot centres around them – in Kreutzwald it is the Lion and in Peterson-Särgava it is Little Pille who seemingly emerges as the protagonist in the opening chapter.

An analysis of the modality of the characters’ relations in both works reveals the domination of the unfriendly network over the friendly network. In Kreutzwald’s book about the fox positive and negative associations appear to an almost equal measure, while in Peterson-Särgava’s work most of the links between characters are negative.

Although the communication acts appearing in the two fox-centred books discussed rather tend to be hostile, the books still retain a certain charm and delightfulness that has kept them among the people’s reading material throughout the years. It is tricksterly cleverness, after all, that on occasion turns out to be the best means to cope with the obvious ills in life.


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Author Biography

Risto Järv, Eesti Kirjandusmuuseum / Estonian Literary Museum

Risto Järv – PhD, Eesti Kirjandusmuuseumi Eesti Rahvaluule Arhiivi juhataja, Tartu Ülikooli dotsent. Tema peamisteks uurimisvaldkondadeks on mitmesugused rahvajutužanri, eriti muinasjuttude aspektid ning folkloristika historiograafia. Ta juhib Eesti Kirjandusmuuseumi ja Tartu Ülikooli muinasjuttude töörühma, kes on koostanud üle 20 rahvajutuväljaande. Samuti redigeerinud ja toimetanud Peterson-Särgava raamatu „Ennemuistsed jutud Reinuvader Rebasest“  uusväljaande (2019), milles on taastatud enesetsensuuri tõttu nõukogude ajal väljajäänud osa.


Risto Järv – PhD, Head of the Folklore Archives of the Estonian Literary Museum, associate professor of the University of Tartu. His main fields of scholarly interest are various aspects of the genre of the folk tale, particularly fairy tales and the historiography of folkloristics. He is the head of the joint folk tale work group of the Estonian Literary Museum and the University of Tartu and has compiled and edited over twenty volumes of folk tales either alone or in collaboration with colleagues from the team. He is also the editor of a new edition of Peterson-Särgava’s collection Old Tales about Reynard the Fox (2019) in which the part omitted in the Soviet period due to the author’s self-censorship has been restored.