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Who are the Frogs? The Transmigration of a Symbol of Nationality

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Abstract

This chapter is concerned to show that satirical national symbols, thoughseemingly immutable, like the English characterization of the French as frogs,in fact have a specific history. It involves the transmutation of the symbol fromthe Dutch, to whom it was first applied, to the French under specific conditionsto do with the French Revolution. In fact the French were in English eyes untilthe end of the 18th century frog-eaters, clearly distinguished from being frogsuntil the aftermath of the Revolution. The transition from frog-eaters to frogs isexplained by reference to Aesop’s Fables.

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