Jean de La Fontaine was part of the court of King Louis XIV but their relationship quickly deteriorated…

jean de la fontaine

Close to Fouquet

In 1668, La Fontaine published his first collection of Fables, which enjoyed immense success. The poet depicted animals there to criticize men and denounce the major problems of his time. However, La Fontaine compromises the promising beginnings of his career by accepting the benevolence of the powerful Fouquet. When the Comptroller General of Finance organizes a sumptuous party at Vaux Le Vicomte to dazzle the Sun King, La Fontaine shares in spite of himself the downfall of his master. This excessively sumptuous and expensive party accelerated the downfall of the superintendent. This financial power so ostensibly thrown in the king’s face was intolerable to him. Colbert at first, then the sovereign in person do not forgive him the years spent with Fouquet.

A source of distraction in Versailles

In the 16th century, under the reign of Louis XIV, the nobles met in the court of Versailles. Their lives are summed up in the army and the court of the king where there are many artists who are their source of distraction. Jean de La Fontaine is one of them but maintains independence from royal power and takes a fairly critical look at the court. Jean de la Fontaine has a certain spirit of judgment of the court of France in his writings. In some of his fables, he uses animals to be able to criticize the inconsistencies of the royal power of his time and to avoid censorship.

The lion, a representation of the king

Among the characters he chooses, there is always a hierarchical superior who is often vain and too often takes advantage of his power like the lion which is a representation of the king. And it highlights the hypocrisy of these characters. Example of the lion who is nice but who would be ready to sacrifice his people. In the court, around the king, there are also the often selfish courtiers, who never stop doing things in their interests. Sometimes, their flattery turns against them and proves to us that sometimes it is not good to be too honeyed or too sincere in your words but to answer without deciding. But often their flattery clears them of the stains they want to avoid and he takes advantage of another person’s weakness to make him a scapegoat.

Hypocrisies and betrayals

The artistic talents of the man are probably not unanimous at the Court of Versailles, however admirers are not lacking. Some important figures of the High Aristocracy take up the cause of the unloved writer. Badly received at Versailles, the writer does not hesitate to underline, sometimes cruelly, the absurdities of the Court of the Sun King. Two fables illuminate the corridors of the palace with a very strange light: beyond the cozy lounges, opulent antechambers, lies, hypocrisies and betrayals govern the relationships of those who live in the shadow of the sovereign.

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