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Jean de La Fontaine
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    (July 8, 1621-April 13, 1695)
    Born in Chateau-Thierry, France
    Fabulist and poet
    Wrote 'Contes' (1664-74) and 'Fables' (1668-94)
    When he was 26, he married a 14-year-old who brought with her a 20,000 livres dowry.
    Because of his financial mismanagement, his wife went to court to have her property legally separated from his (1658).
    He was fined 2,000 livres for using the title of esquire when he was not entitled to it.
    Some critics considered his Fables a rip-off of earlier authors, such as Aesop.
    He was absent minded enough to fail to recognize his son.
    He got religion on his deathbed and at the urging of a priest burned a comedy he had written.
    When his patron, Nicolas Fouquet, was arrested for embezzlement and treason, he refused to abandon Fouquet and wrote a poem to King Louis XIV asking for mercy.
    He was friends with Moliere, Racine and La Rochefoucauld.
    The last edition of his 'Contes' was banned by French authorities as obscene.
    In some of the 'Fables,' he satirized French society, for instance using lions to represent the King of France.
    Later editions of his 'Fables' were illustrated by such artists as Gustave Dore, Marc Chagall and Salvador Dali.
    Gustave Flaubert said he was the only French poet to master the texture of the French language prior to Victor Hugo.

Credit: C. Fishel

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