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The French regard La Fontaine as one of their greatest poets. He is certainly the most popular, and French literature is so penetrated with his fables that an intimate acquaintance with them is necessary in order to understand it. For this reason alone all students of French literature should read these fables, which have, however, a decided linguistic and literary value of their own, aside from their influence on modern literature. The present edition contains a larger number of these fables than most other editions with English notes, thus not only furnishing more reading-matter for interested students, but also allowing a larger range of choice in case it is not deemed advisable to read the entire collection. All of the most popular fables are here included, and all, or nearly all, that have any distinct literary value. A few unimportant ones have been added merely because they were easy or amusing. Standard editions contain two hundred and thirtyeight fables. A few of these are too long for an edition of this kind, and a few otherwise excellent fables contain passages inappropriate for reading in class. Some attempt has been made to arrange the fables in the order of their difficulty, and consequently no long or difficult one has been placed near the beginning of the book. For the convenience of the instructor in assigning lessons, care has been taken that several long fables shall not immediately follow each other.
Since the object of this edition is purely literary and not philological, the text has been modernized wherever such treatment did not interfer, with the versification. Where