Located in the Île-de-France region in France, Vaux le Vicomte is a magnificant chateau that embodies France's rich architectural heritage. Built in the 17th century, this architectural gem was conceived by Nicholas Fouquet, who served as the Superintendant of Finances for Louis XIV. Fouquet sought to create an estate that would capture the very essence of artistry and grandeu, and he succeeded in building a masterpiece that would set the stage for a remarkable story.
However, Nicholas Fouquet's influence and legacy extended far beyond the stone walls of Vaux le Vicomte. His life's story is intricately entwined with that of Jean de La Fontaine, a revered writer known for his fables that continue to captivate readers today. What united Fouquet and La Fontaine was not just a deep friendship but also a shared passion for the arts. Within the elegant halls and meticulously landscaped gardens of Vaux le Vicomte, La Fontaine discovered not only artistic inspiration but also a sanctuary for his literary musings. The cháteau's beauty and creative ambiance became an indelible part of his literary journey, leaving a profound mark on his storytelling.
La Fontaine's renowned fables are a treasure trove of wisdom, wit, and boundless imagination. These succinct tales, often featuring animals as their central characters, convey moral lessons that transcend time. From classics like "The Tortoise and the Hare" and "The Rooster and the Pearl" to the lesser-known ones like "The Frog Who Wished to Be as Big as the Ox," La Fontaine's fables have cemented their places as cornerstones of French literature. Their enduring appeals lies in their ability to simultaneously entertain and offer profound insights into the complexities of human nature, making them an invaluable cultural legacy that continues to resonate with readers of all ages.
Le Lievre et La Tortue - The Hare and the Tortoise
Rien ne sert de courir; il faut partier á point... Le Lievre et la Tortue en sont un témoignage.
There's no point in running: you have to start on time....The Hare and the Tortoise are a testament to this.
La Coq et La Perle - The Rooster and the Pearl
Un jour un coq détourna / Une perle qu'il donna / Au beau premier lapidaire. / "Je la crois fine," dit-il, / "Mais le moindre grain de mil / serait bien mieux mon affaire. "
One day a rooster hijacked / A pearl and gave it / To the handsome first lapidary. / "I think she's fine," he said, / "But the smallest grain of millet / would be better for me."
Un ignorant hérita / D'un manuscrit qu'il porta / Chez son voisin le libraire. / "Je crois," dit-il, "qu'il est bon; / Mais le moindre ducaton / Serait bien mieux mon affaire."
An ignorant inherited / A manuscript which he took / To his neighbor, the bookseller / "I believe," he said, "that it is good; / But any coin / I would much rather like."
The moral of The Rooster and the Pearl fable is that valuable things should not be disregarded simply because they do not fit immediate needs or expectations. In the story, the rooster dismisses a valuable pearl he discovers because it doesn't resemble the food he typically eats. However, his hasty judgement causes him to lose the pearl. This fable reminds us not to let what we are used to blind us to the true worth of something, as valuable opportunities or treasures may be missed when we hastily judge based on appearance or immediate utility.
The frog sculptures which adorn the foundain of Vaux le Vicomte are unmissable. They are perchaed gracefully on terraces above the grottos at the end of the garden. These frogs, part of the château's artistic charm, became a source of inspiration for La Fontaine. It is here that the lines between reality and imagination blur, as the frog sculpture at Vaux le Vicomte found its way into the pages of La Fontain'es fables, embodying themes of envy and vanity.
La Grenouille qui veut se faire aussi grosse que le Boeuf - The Frog who wished to be as big as the Ox
Une Grenouille vit un Boeuf / Qui lui sembla de belle taille. / Elle, qui n'était pas grosse en tout comme un oeuf, / Envieuse s'étend, et s'enfle, et se travailles / Pour égaler l'animal en grosseur, / Disant: "Regardez bien, ma soeur; / Est-ce assez? dites moi; n'y suis-je point encore? / - Nenni. - M'y voici donc? / -Point du tout. - M'y voila? / - Vous n'en approchez point" La chétive pécore - / S'enfla si bien qu'elle creva.
A Frog saw an Ox / Who seemed to him a fine size / She, who was not as big as an egg, / Envious, she stretched and swelled and toiled / To match the animal's size, / Saying, "Look well, sister; / Is it enough? Tell me am I there yet? / - Nenni. - Am I there yet? / - Not at all. - Am I there yet? / You're not getting any closer." The puny pecan / Swelled up so well that she burst.
In this fable, a frog wants to be as large as an Ox and so attempts to puff herself up to achieve this goal. She is unsuccessful, as her ambition exceeds her physical capacity, and she bursts in the process. La Fontaine teaches us that while ambition and aspiration are admirable, they should be grounded in a realistic understanding of our limitations and capabilities. It warns agains the reckless pursuit of grandiosity without considering the consequences, empasizing the importance of humility and self-awareness.
Reflecting upong the enduring legacy of Vaux le Vicomte, Fouquet and La Fontaine, we uncover a modern connection to this rich history. Inspired by the frog sculptures which enchant the gardens at Vaux le Vicomte, Cassandra has created a unique frog pendant. This piece of art caputres the spirit of literature and creativity which thrived within the château's walls, serving as a tangible link to the history of France.