Brer Rabbit in Translation

Today I’ve been scanning in images from old books we’ve got here at the Wren’s Nest. I think some of the coolest are from different countries. Funny how the image of Brer Rabbit changes in the translation.


This is from France, circa 1913. If it’s not clear, Brer Rabbit has tied fishing line to his tail. The pull is so strong that’s it’s lopped the tail straight off.

Next up, Japan!


What is so funny? Who are these baby Japanese rabbits? Look at their little clothes! They’re fully equiped with scarves and aprons and patches and bandanas and suspenders.

This next one is Russian, I think. What other alphabets are Cyrillic? Ukrainian, Serbian, something something. Any bright ideas?


Whatever it is, I’m so glad that Brer Fox is some kind of cowboy-biker. And my, look at those smoke rings! Nothing says Brer Rabbit like a good neckerchief, apparently.

EDIT March 22, 9:41 AM:

Here you go, Dante:

Cut Up Russian
Here’s one more for you:

Who Knows

Call me crazy, but I think this one is Czech. Where is his neckerchief!?!

Comments (6)

  • Those are so cool! It’s funny that each rabbit looks like the kind that would be found in that part of the world – just another way to show how well these stories can translate into any culture. Despite the “Song of the South” version that pops into many Americans’ heads upon mention of Uncle Remus’ tales, these help illustrate that there really is no “definitive” version that must be adhered to. The folk-tale nature of the stories allows them to be adopted by whoever is telling/reading/sharing them.
    It is more than possible that the whole “tar baby” debate would have been lost on the artists that created these three covers. As we can see, there is very little (in terms of the depictions of Brer Rabbit) that is shared between the three versions. Each artist created their own version of Brer Rabbit from the elements of the stories that spoke to them. I seriously doubt that the supposed “racist undertone” of the tar baby story is something that would necessarily transcend all cultures. The stories consist of plots, morals, jokes, and the like – it is what we bring to the table as readers – our culture, experiences, and history – that colors the pages and brings life to the characters.

  • Dante, you’ll see that I enlarged the picture for you. Now get to work!

    Erin, you totally just got juiced by Scotty.

    Scotty: 1
    Erin: 0

    You’d better get your act together before law school starts.

    (Just kidding! Not everything you say has to be intelligent! Take my blog for example.)

  • I suppose I could have lost myself in a discussion over how an artistic interpretation of a story can be a way of constructing cultural owenership of the tale itself, or pondered over the ways cover art truly reflects the society coeval with its conception – but really I just like the pretty pictures.

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