Biography and Index to some of his Fables in English and French (side by side)
Click here to see the INDEX of the Fables
Jean de La Fontaine (c. July 8, 1621 - April 13, 1695), French poet, was born at Château-Thierry in Champagne.
His Fables of animals and everyday life are masterworks of French literature and took their inspiration from Aesop, Horace and ancient Indian literature such as the Panchatantra:
"This is the second book of fables that I present to the public... I must acknowledge that the greatest part is inspired by Pilpay, the Indian sage." ("Je dirai par reconnaissance que j’en dois la plus grande partie à Pilpay sage indien.") — Jean de La Fontaine, Avertissement to the Second Compilation of Fables (1678).
The first collection of 124 Fables Choisies had appeared March 31, 1668, wisely dedicated to "Monseigneur" the Dauphin, the six-year-old grandson of Louis XIV, and were choice in every sense: utterly correct, balanced, choice in rhyme, natural and easy, droll, witty, knowing, sage, utterly French.
They were an immediate success. Until recently, well-educated French people could quote hundreds of lines from La Fontaine. A set of postage stamps celebrating La Fontaine and the Fables was issued by France in 1995.
At intervals through the rest of his life, new editions with more Fables appeared. The last edition came out in 1693. In 1683 he became a member of the Académie française. He died in Paris, and is interred at Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Here is the index of some of Jean de la Fontaine's Fables. The English is on the left with the French on the right. Both English and French are presented on the same page. The text is set side by side and spaced so that similar parts are directly opposite each other.
The translation is not literal. That means it is not a word for word translation... although many words, of, course are the same, the translator into English has rather preferred to express the "meaning and sense" of the fable.