Jean de La Fontaine

1621 (Château-Thierry, France) – 1695 (Neuilly-sur-Seine)

La Fontaine is celebrated for his Fables, and as the greatest poet of 17th century France. He was one of the so-called Quartet of the rue du Vieux Colombier, along with Molière, Racine and Boileau, though the four-square image over-simplifies the case. He fell out with his long-standing friend Furetière (siding with the Académie Française over Furetière’s dictionary) and his collaborator Lully (who pulled out of composing the music for their projected opera Daphné – La Fontaine countering pointedly with a satirical poem). He and Perrault stayed on good terms despite taking opposing sides in a debate about literary principles.

Jean de La Fontaine knew…