Although he had a degree to practice law, La Fontaine does not seem to have done so but, rather, spent his life in Paris dependent on aristocratic patrons. His principal contribution to literature was his 12 books of Fables, to which he devoted 30 years of his life. They were published from 1668 to 1694 and are universally appreciated in France by children and adults alike. In drawing on a tradition of the fable going back to Aesop, La Fontaine created a portrait of human life and French society through the representations of animals. His work is marked by great insight into human moral character, while it preaches the value of the middle road.
John Hollander has edited several Everyman's Library Pocket Poet volumes, including "Robert Frost", "Christmas Poems", "War Poems", "Marriage Poems", "Animal Poems", & "Garden Poems". He is the A. Bartlett Biamatti Professor of English at Yale University, & the author of numerous books of poetry & criticism. He was made a MacArthur Fellow in 1990.