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La Fontaine.

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Presentation on theme: "La Fontaine."— Presentation transcript:

1 La Fontaine

2 Outline Introduction Part I. His life Part II. His work
Part III. The Animals Stricken with the Plague Conclusion References

3 Introduction La Fontaine ( ) is one of the most famous French poets and storytellers He produced the most famous fables of modern times La Fontaine’s masterpiece is the collection of Fables choisies, mises en vers [selected fables versified] (1668–94), comprising 12 books of some 230 fables drawn largely from Aesop, Italian and Indian stories Many of the “Morales” contained in the fables are nowadays widely known: “The argument of the strongest is always the best”; “Help thyself and Heaven will help thee”

4 Part I. His life Jean de La Fontaine ( ); born in Champagne, the son of a superintendent of forests In 1647, he married Marie Héricart, an heiress, but the marriage was not happy Eleven years later, they separated. Then, he moved to Paris and dedicated his life to writing He was protected by Nicolas Fouquet, who was arrested by Louis XIV (see Vaux-le-Vicomte) La Fontaine died in Paris, and is interred at Père Lachaise Cemetery

5 La Fontaine; The Shepherd Wolf; illustration by Gustave Doré

6 Part II. His work His first collection of 124 fables called Fables Choisies (selected fables) dedicated to the Dauphin, the grandson of Louis XIV His work well received; in 1683 member of the Académie française These stories are attractive to children, but they are also loved by adults who can read between the lines a serious and timeless critique of French society At intervals through the rest of his life, new editions with more Fables. The last edition came out in 1694 By the end of his life, he had produced 12 books containing some 230 fables

7 La Fontaine; The Lion and the Rat; illustration by Gustave Doré

8 Part II. His work Among the most famous fables are: La Cigale et la Fourmi; Le Corbeau et le Renard; Le Lièvre et la Tortue; La Grenouille qui se veut faire aussi grosse que le boeuf Among his other works are Contes et nouvelles en vers (4 vol., 1664–74, tr. Tales and Novels in Verse, 1934), humorous and often ribald verse tales drawn from Boccaccio, Ariosto, and others He wrote comedies and librettos for opera, poems on classical themes, and long original poems, notably the Élégie aux nymphes de Vaux (1671), a complaint on the disgrace (1661) of his patron Fouquet

9 La Fontaine; The Milkmaid; illustration by Gustave Doré

10 Part III. The Animals Stricken with the Plague
In The Animals Stricken with the Plague (Volume 7, fable 1), the truth teller that is not rewarded; La Fontaine criticizes Louis XIV and his court The plague has been sent by God to punish crimes committed in the country; the lion king invites all the animals to make a public confession The lion is forgiven for his crimes by a complaisant court, while the ass sees his minor tort become a criminal offense. La Fontaine concludes that “depending on your social height, the law will see your crime as black-or else as white”

11 Part III. The Animals Stricken with the Plague
This is a quite sad story. La Fontaine considers that there is no justice for the weak. As to the powerful, there are always above the law This story is close to Oedipus the King by Sophocles (around 427 BC): the play begins after Thebes has been struck with plague by the gods in outrage at Oedipus unintentional wrongdoing The play shows Oedipus investigation, in which he curses and promises to exile those responsible for the murder The blind prophet Tiresias tells Oedipus at the beginning of the play that he is the cause of the plague The difference with La Fontaine’s fable is that the king eventually recognized his wrongdoing.


13 Conclusion La Fontaine’s Fables of animals and everyday life are masterworks of French literature and took their inspiration from Aesop, Horace, Phaedrus and ancient Indian literature (Panchatantra) Natural and easy, droll, witty, the fables were an immediate success The fables have been illustrated by Grandville in 1838; Gustave Doré in 1867; Benjamin Rabier at the beginning of the 20th century

14 References

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