Jean de La Fontaine
La Fontaine, the most versatile and most widely celebrated nondramatic poet in seventeenth century France. He has often experienced the misfortune of having the artistry of his works obscured by a host of myths, half-truths, prejudices, and nonaesthetic issues. This great poet, has become a "classic". His fables, on which his Reputations rests, are part of the literary canon of French writers and are studied in schools. His other works, however, have been rediscovered and are the object of quite a few recent studies. (Carter, pg.46)
Very little is known about the early part of La Fontaine 's life. He was born in Château-Thierry, a small town in the province of Champagne some fifty miles northeast of Paris. His baptism was entered in the parish of Saint-Crépin register on July 8, 1621. Most take this as his actual birth date, but according to the custom of the period, it probably means that La Fontaine was born a day or two earlier. (Mackay, pg.4) He was the son of Charles de la Fontaine, a royal government official who inspected forests and waterways. His mother Françoise Pidoux, who came from a nobler family from Poitou. He also had a younger brother who was born two years after La Fontaine. He also had an older step sister named Anne de Jouy on his mothers side of the family. (Carter, pg. 46)
The education and formative years of young la Fontaine are not documented. Most biographers state that, in all likelihood, he attended château-
Thierry "college". This is a secondary institution where humanities were taught to the sons of the middle class. (Encarta n.pag.) He then attended a school at Reims. From there he went to Paris to study medicine and theology, but was drawn into the whirls of social life. During that time he became qualified as a lawyer, but never perused it.
In 1641 he went to the Oratory of Saint Magloire in Paris, intending to become a priest and was soon joined
Cited: Carter, Hodding, The New Book of Knowledge volume 11 1994, Grolier Inc. Danbury, Connecticut "La Fontaine", Encarta Encyclopedia, Encarta Publishing 1995, IBM, CD-ROM. Mackay, Agnes Ethel, La Fontaine and His Friends 1972, George Braziller, New York Sweetser, Marie-Odile, La Fontaine 1987, Twayne Publishers, Boston http://localhost:1234/hlpa /Fontaine.htm&ht=jean+de+la+Fontaine&methode=get&raqdata, April 16, 2000, MSN Internet Access