Lady Into Fox
Lady Into Fox
The story of 'Lady Into Fox' is both spellbinding and horrific. Out walking in Oxfordshire woodland, Mr. Tebrick suddenly finds that his shy, beautiful, young wife Sylvia has turned into a fox.
At first the change is purely physical.
Her loving husband carries her home hidden under his coat, dismisses his servants and shoots dead the family dogs.
Mr. Tebrick's first, very English, reaction is to pretend nothing has happened, stubbornly playing cards with his altered wife, keeping her dressed in a little silk jacket, even reading aloud to her.
But, as Garnett writes in shockingly visceral detail, Sylvia's feral instincts inevitably surface. Soon, Tebrick witnesses his wife's first kill, watching in horror as she crunches up rabbit bones, blood smeared around her delicate, foxy mouth.
Mr. Tebrick does all he can to protect his wife from the dangers inherent in the outside world, but these dangers soon prove impossible to fight and inevitably break down the boundaries between the newlyweds and what lies beyond the garden walls.
Tebrick remains poignantly loyal to Sylvia, following her into the wild when she escapes his house, even trying to father the four little cubs to which she gives birth. But he cannot keep her safe from the local hunt, and at the end of the novella Sylvia dies, mauled and exhausted, in his arms.
A slim, heartbreaking treat of a story—it is one of the strangest little fictions in the English language.
DAVID GARNETT (1892 –1981) received literary recognition when his novel Lady into Fox was awarded the 1922 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction. A prolific author, he wrote numerous articles and books, including Dope Darling (1919) (as Leda Burke) Lady into Fox (1922) A Man in the Zoo (1924) The Sailor's Return (1925) Go She Must! (1927) The Old Dove Cote (1928) Never Be a Bookseller (1929) No Love (1929) The Grasshoppers Come (1931) A Terrible Day (1932) A Rabbit in the Air. Notes from a diary kept while learning to handle an aeroplane (1932).