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Jean de La Fontaine

Jean de La Fontaine (c. July 8, 1621 - April 13, 1695), French poet, was born at Château-Thierry in Champagne.

His Fables of animals and everyday life took their inspiration from Aesop and Horace but they are masterworks of French literature.

The first collection of 124 Fables Choisies appeared Match 31, 1668, wisely dedicated to "Monseigneur" the Dauphin, the six year-old grandson of Louis XIV, and were choice in every sense: utterly correct, balanced, choice in rhyme, natural and easy, droll, witty, knowing, sage, utterly French. They were an immediate hit. Until recently, well-educated French could quote hundreds of lines from La Fontaine. A set of postage stamps celebrating La Fontaine and the Fables was issued by France in 1995.

At intervals through the rest of his life, new editions with more Fables appeared. The last edition came out in 1693. In 1683 he became a member of the Académie française. He died in Paris, and is interred in the Père Lachaise cemetery.

Further reading

  • Poet and the King: Jean De La Fontaine and His Century by Marc Fumaroli, Jean Marie Todd (Transl.) Pub. U. of Notre Dame; ISBN 0268038775; (May 2002)
  • Fifty Fables of La Fontaine by Jean De La Fontaine, Pub. U. of Ill.; ISBN 0252066499; (September 1997)

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