Jean de La Fontaine, 1621 - 1695
Oil on canvas by Hyacinthe Rigaud (18th century)
Born: 8 July 1621, Château-Thierry, Champagne
Died: 13 April 1695, Paris, France
La Fontaine, the most famous French fabulist and a widely read poet, was born to an upper middle class family; his father was deputy ranger for the Duchy of Champagne and reasonably well off. He entered a seminary in 1641 but soon found this didn't suit and studied law instead. In 1647 his father resigned his rangership in favor of the son, at the same time arranging a marriage for him. La Fontaine and his wife didn't hit it off, one biographer noted that Marie was "a negligent housewife and inveterate novel reader", she continued to live at their home while he mostly lived at Paris from then on; the occasional meetings required by his office were not a problem. Absent minded and indifferent to business, La Fontaine's finances were generally poor but his writings brought him generous patrons so despite having to sell all his property he probably missed few meals. In his forties he was part of a literary quartet known as the Rue du Vieux Columbier, comprising himself, Racine, Boileau, and Moliè're. La Fontaine is best known for his Fables choises, Flaubert maintained that he was the only French poet to master the texture of French before Victor Hugo.
Biography from Wikipedia
Additional quotes from Wikiquote. Wikiquote entries are "sourced" and may include items longer than those included here, particularly for poets, lyricists, and dramatists.
Jean de La Fontaine quotes:
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- A hungry stomach has no ears. permalink
"The Kite and the Nightingale" in Fables, Book 9 (1678-79)
- A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it. permalink
- Anyone entrusted with power will abuse it if not also animated with the love of truth and virtue, no matter whether he be a prince, or one of the people. permalink
- Be advised that all flatterers live at the expense of those who listen to them. permalink
- Better to suffer than to die: that is mankind's motto. permalink
- Beware, as long as you live, of judging people by appearances. permalink
- By the work one knows the workman. permalink
- Death never takes the wise man by surprise, he is always ready to go. permalink
- Dressed in the lion's skin, the ass spread terror far and wide. permalink
- Every flatterer lives at the expense of him who listens to him. permalink
- Every newspaper editor owes tribute to the devil. permalink
Lettre à Simon de Troyes (1686), cited in The Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations, Jehiel Keeler Hoyt, compiler (1896)
- Everyone believes very easily whatever they fear or desire. permalink
- Everyone calls himself a friend, but only a fool relies on it: nothing is commoner than the name, nothing rarer than the thing. permalink
"Parole de Socrate"
- Folly was condemned to serve as a guide to Love whom she had blinded. permalink
A Thousand Flashes of French Wit, Wisdom, and Wickedness, J. De Finod, translator and compiler (1886)
- Fond youth flatters itself that all must heed its prayer. permalink
"The Old Cat and the Young Mouse" in Fables (1668-94)
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