Four hundred years after his birth, Jean de La Fontaine remains one of the most cherished figures in the French literary pantheon. This child of Champagne was baptized in Château-Thierry (Aisne) on July 8, 1621. His first years in Paris were marked by a brief attempt at religious life in the novitiate of the Oratory, then by the joyful assemblies of the paladins of the Round Table , between literary salons and taverns.
Benefiting from the prestigious patronage of Fouquet in 1658, he remained loyal to him even after his fall, but had to come to terms with a less brilliant situation and set out in search of other protectors. After a few essays that went more or less unnoticed, he had his first literary success at the age of only 43, with the publication in 1665 of Contes et nouvelles en verse, then of the first collection of Fables in 1668.
The considerable fortune which these two works met prompted him to publish two other collections of Fables in 1678-1679 and 1693, dedicated to Madame de Montespan and the grandson of Louis XIV, the Duke of Burgundy, and to publish in 1674 without privilege or permission his licentious New Tales, the sale of which was immediately prohibited. Kept out of royal favor, it was not until 1684 to enter the French Academy.
Divided between Paris, seat of literary life and place of residence of its various protectors, and Château-Thierry, where his office as master of water and forests called him, he undoubtedly took advantage of his stays in his hometown to compose a much of his work. The hotel which he inherited from his father and which he was forced to sell in 1676, now transformed into a museum, preserves the memory of his study.
The poet died on April 13, 1695 in Paris. He leaves behind a work of international influence and the origin of an abundant artistic creation.
To pay tribute to him, La Poste will offer this July 12 a block of two stamps illustrated by fables. On the stamps and the block background, we find the following fables: The frog who wants to be as big as an ox, The wolf and the dog, The town rat and the field rat, The goose that lays golden eggs , The hare and the tortoise, The coachman and the fly, The crow and the fox, The lion in love, The clay pot and the iron pot and The grasshopper and the ant.
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