Jean de La Fontaine

[Jean de La Fontaine] French poet, born Chilteau-Thierry, 1621; died Paris, France, 1695. After completing his studies he joined the Oratorians, but left after 18 months to study law. He remained in his native town for 10 years, succeeding his father as "Master of Waters and Forests." At thirty he began his literary career as protege of the famous Superintendent Fouquet, and of the Duchess of Orleans. During this period he also associated with Boileau, Moliere, and Racine, and published his "Contes et Nouvelles," (short stories, rather licentious in tone), his "Psyche," and the first six Books of his Fables. From 1672 to 1693 he enjoyed the hospitality of Mme de la Sabliere, and published his second Collection of Fables (Books VII-XI). He spent the last two years of his life with M. d'Hervart and published his last Book of Fables, 1694. He had been elected a member of the French Academy, 1683, and had sincerely come back to the practise of his religion, 1692. The "Fables of La Fontaine" are unique in French literature, and among the most popular of the French classics. Each one is a little drama of well-drawn characters, with the manners of men and of beasts skilfully depicted in an artistic and simple styles which is enhanced by a great variety of rhythms; every fable conveys a practical lesson.

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