Last week, the French Library book club met to discuss some of La Fontaine’s famous Fables. This prompted much discussion among staff members about which was their absolute favorite or most memorable Fable growing up. Indeed in francophone countries, many children learn La Fontaine fables by heart: c’est incontournable !

Sonia - Le Loup et l'Agneau
I am touched by this fable’s raw character and sharp dialogue. The animals involved in this fable and the cruelty described remind me of children’s stories with bad endings, like « La Chèvre de Monsieur Seguin » for example. I don’t feel immediate outrage or revolt when I read this fable, just sheer shock, like when you are a kid and you learn about injustice for the first time.
P.S: A close second for me is La Laitière et le Pot au Lait !

Clémence - Le Lièvre et la Tortue 
As we are in Boston, I had to go with Le Lièvre et la Tortue! I love Les Fables de La Fontaine: the French that the author used is so beautiful, not easy for French learners but when you get it it's like listening to a wonderful music...
In Copley Square, have you noticed the Hare and the Tortoise sculptures? They are here to celebrate the end of one of the most famous marathons, the Boston one! And why a hare and a turtle? Because in this fable you learn that being the fastest does not mean anything if you can't focus on your goal or if you don't respect your opponent. 
I really enjoy when American and French culture interlace, it makes me feel somewhat complete!  
 
Patricia - Le Lièvre et la Tortue (bis) 
Pour moi, c'est aussi le Lièvre et la Tortue. Je m'identifie avec la tortue… lentement mais sûrement. C’est aussi parce que la routine me réussit bien. J'aime le message d'encouragement pour la tortue qui est déterminée. Elle n'a l'air de rien, mais elle aboutit, alors que le lièvre est vaniteux.

Fabrizio - Le Loup et le Chien 
When it comes to La Fontaine, childhood memories resurface: for example my mother demanding a full récitation par coeur of a given one at school, several times a week, while doing homework. It took me a while to fully appreciate and understand the multi-layered meanings of all the Fables (la morale de l'histoire).
I recall spending quite some time studying and saying out loud 'Le Loup et le Chien'. My comment on this particular one: it is all about the "Liberté chérie", a core value, a cherished notion and lasting concept by both France and the United States up to this present day!
 
Michaela - Le Corbeau et le Renard 
I'm embarrassed to say, that the only one that really stuck with me from school is Le corbeau et le Renard... I wonder why that's a common reference for all? I'd like to think that it's the universality of the cautionary tale of vanity that simply appeals to a large audience, and of course the understandable outrage at the thought of someone stealing your cheese too...


Et vous ? Let us know about your favorite Fable de La Fontaine!

A dual citizen of France and the USA, Sonia grew up between the Midwest and Brittany. After obtaining her BA in Philosophy and Modern Languages at Oxford University in 2015, she spent several years in Paris, working in classical music and studying voice & opera at the Conservatoire. She moved to Boston in the fall of 2020, where she now performs as a singer. Sonia is thrilled to also be a part of the French Library’s team, where she can put her deep love of French literature to use while working as Librarian.

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