La Fontaine, Jean de


La Fontaine, Jean de
(1621-1695)
   poet
   Jean de La Fontaine, who produced the most famous fables of modern times, was born in Château-Thierry and was educated at the College of Reims. After a carefree provincial bourgeois youth, he gained access, thanks to his position as supervisor of the forests and streams in his district, to the salons where he read both modern and ancient writers. He took the ancients as his model and, in a style of "original imitation," wrote a heroic poem, Adonis (1658), inspired by Ovid. He soon won the support of influential patrons of literature, and he had further success with his Contes et Nouvelles (1665), which established his literary reputation. He became a member of a noted literary group that included jean-baptiste molière and jean racine. After 1668, his first book of Fables (1668-94) appeared, making him one of the most eminent French men of letters of the period. in 1683, he was elected to the Académie Française. La Fontaine's work influenced many later writers. He was inspired by ancient writers, such as Aesop and Phaedrus, and also by Boccaccio. La Fontaine wrote many miscellaneous works too, including poems, opera librettos, and plays; the most famous of these are the romantic tale in prose and verse, Les Amours de Psyché et de Cupidon (1669).

France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present . 1884.

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