, Volume 96, Issue 2, pp 205-220

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Perrault Aux Prises Avec la Fontaine: Imitation, Compétition et Correction Dans Les Fables de Faërne (1699)

  • Sander BeckerAffiliated withInstitute for Cultural Disciplines, French Language and Culture, Leiden University Email author 


Known especially for his fairy tales, Charles Perrault is also the author of the Fables de Faërne (1699). In this French translation of the Neo-Latin volume Fabulae Centum (1564), written by the Italian humanist Gabriel Faerno, Perrault had to position himself against his renowned predecessor Jean de La Fontaine, who had been dominating fable literature for decades. Perrault could either imitate his famous example, or evade it, due to anxiety of influence. To illustrate this inner struggle, we systematically compare both authors’ fables, concentrating our analysis on versification (metre and rhyme), vocabulary and apostrophe. In our comparison, we constantly verify whether any of the resemblances could be attributable to other French, versified fable books read by both Perrault and La Fontaine. Occasionally, this seems to be the case for the anonymous collection L’Esbatement moral des animaux (1578).


Perrault La Fontaine Faërne Fables Anxiety of influence