How to Use This Site

Currently, this site houses a collection of 56 different versions of the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse. Each version is its own "item" within the collection. This site was created using Omeka which makes it quite easy to search at the item level. You can search the collection from this page and which allows for keyword searches (so if you type in "Dodsley" you'll get a version of the fable written by Dodsley. If you type in "Pope" you'll get Alexander Pope's version as well as other versions that mention him in their description). The same page allows you to construct more advanced searches. 

Every item in the collection has a text file associated with it, containing the plain text of the fable. This makes each fable text searchable (So if you type in "Metempsychosis" you'll get the only fable that contains that word. If you type in "Cheese"'ll get a lot of fables). 

Almost every item in the collection also has associated images, which are usually scans of the book that the fable was drawn from. Often, these are easier to read and unlike a text file, they preserve formatting (Lines, bolded words, ect). I recommend reading fables this way, however, many of the older versions are probably easier to read through the text file. 

In a small number of cases there is no image drawn from a direct scan of the book. This is usually the case with extremely old versions of the fable where all I had to go one was a text file. For example here



Most of the fables in this collection are drawn from larger books of fables, which have similar names ("Fables of Aesop" ect.)

To uniquely identify versions or variants of fables, I have assigned each a number. The number means nothing more than the order I added each fable to the collection. You will see many places on the site where I include links to particular versions of the fable with a number. For example, (32) links to a variant which is an English translation of La Fontaine's fables. 



Currently I use the term "version" or "variant" interchangeably to mean a different retelling of the fable. A difference of two or more words merits a separate "version" or "variant." This means many versions of the fable are quite similar. For example Alexander Pope's version  differs from this version only in the inclusion of a few extra lines. 

Currently I use the term "borrowed" instead of more loaded terms like "plagiarized" or "copied." There are plenty of instances in this collection where clear plagiarism has occurred, but there are just as many instances where a teller took up an old story and added some embellishments, and this is normally considered acceptable behavior among fabulists. Rather than distinguish between the two I simply say "borrowed from Croxall" rather than "copied from Croxall."


Tagging and Analysis:

Fables have been tagged according to certain story elements. Often, this is an interesting way to find other commonalities between fables, for example, most versions of the fable that happen on Christmas borrow from a single Norwegian variant that has other unique story elements (the Country Mouse gets drunk). 

Occasionally, these tags are a judgement call on my part, usually with the goal of being as inclusive as possible. Fable (31) is a Romanian folktale which has been written about in a British folklore journal. I have tagged it as both being "From Romania" and "From England."

The most exhaustive tagging effort on my part has been identifying the "town foods" and "country foods" named in each variant of the story. If cheese has been mentioned as a food that the country mouse serves, I've tagged the variant with "Country Food: Cheese." If in the same story Cheese is also served by the town mouse, I've tagged the variant with "Town Food: Cheese." 

If you click on a tag, you will be presented with a list of every story that shares that tag. This will not allow you to filter stories by more than one tag at once, which is often the most interesting way to analyze these fables. For example, searching for "Country Food: Bacon" will get you a huge list of unrelated stories. Using the advanced search  you can perform a search using multiple fields, which will allow you to isolate, for example, stories tagged with both "Country Food: Bacon" and "Country Food: Peas." Most of the variants found with this search will bear similarities to Croxall's version.   

If you want to do more involved analysis of the collection, you might want to consider looking at my datasets page, which will allow you to download whole collection in an easy-to-analyze CSV form.