Jean de Lafontaine – French poet, writer, illustrious fabulist, member of the French Academy – was born in Champagne, Chateau-Thierry July 8, 1621. His father was a state forester, so the childhood of the future celebrity passed on nature. Jean received his primary education in a village school, then in a Reims college. Later I studied law at the Oratorian seminary in Paris, because my father saw him as a priest in the future, but poetry and philosophy attracted Lafontaine much more.
In 1647, Lafontaine returned to Champagne, took the position of father and at his insistence at the age of 26 married a very young Marie Erikar. However, this is not at all a turning point in his biography. Service and family responsibilities leave him indifferent, and soon Lafontaine goes to the capital, where he plans to lead a completely different way of life, engage only in literary activity.
His calculation proved to be correct: he quickly gained patrons among the nobility,
managed to achieve fame in the literary field, he found friends, including among very famous people, in particular, Prince Conde, Madame de Lafayed, La Rochefoucauld, etc. The famous minister Fouquet made him the owner of a large pension. At the same time, Louis XIV did not pay much respect to the poet: he did not like the novels that were too frivolous from his pen; besides, he was not impressed by the irresponsibility, frivolity of a writer who did not want to recognize any duties. For obvious reasons, he did not approve of his work and church. At one time the king even prevented Lafontaine from becoming a member of the academy. This event became somewhat belated, occurred only in 1684.
The writer’s way of life was purely secular, he did not deny himself the pleasures that made his position accessible, including in love relationships, and his communication with the family remaining in the estate was reduced to a sparse correspondence with his wife. Only friends forced him to sometimes make short visits to his homeland. His own children were interested in the poet very little, once he did not even recognize
his son, who had grown strong after his last meeting with his father.
In large literature Lafontaine entered in 1654 when he was already 33 years old. From his pen came out works of various literary genres, for example, madrigals, ballads, odes, epistles, plays, eclogs. And it was not until 1668 that Lafontaine first appeared in the role of a fabulist who brought him world fame: this year the first edition of The Fables of Aesop, translated into verses by M. de Lafontaine, was published, consisting of six books. In the second edition, which was published in 1678 there were already 11 volumes, in 1694 the last edition in 12 books was published. Relying on the legacy of ancient authors, using their external storylines, Jean de Lafontaine, in fact, made the creator of a new genre and thereby secured a worthy place in the history of literature. The fables made him one of the great national national poets, were translated into the most diverse languages of the world.