When he first wrote his Fables, La Fontaine had a sophisticated audience in mind. Nevertheless, the Fables were regarded as providing an excellent education in morals for children, and the first edition was dedicated to the six-year-old Dauphin. Following La Fontaine’s example, his translator Charles Denis dedicated his Select Fables (1754) to the sixteen-year-old heir to the English throne. The 18th century was particularly distinguished for the number of fabulists in all languages and for the special cultivation of young people as a target audience. In the 1730s eight volumes of Nouvelles Poésies Spirituelles et Morales sur les plus beaux airs were published, the first six of which incorporated a section of fables aimed at children. These contained fables of La Fontaine rewritten to fit popular airs of the day and arranged for simple performance. The preface to this work announces that its aim is specifically to “give them an attraction to useful lessons which are suited to their age [and] an aversion to the profane songs which are often put into their mouths and which only serve to corrupt their innocence
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