Divided into 12 books, there are 239 of the Fables, varying in length from a few lines to some hundred, those written later being as a rule longer than the earlier. The subject of each of the Fables is often common property of many ages and races. What gives La Fontaine's Fables their rare distinction is the freshness in narration, the deftness of touch, the unconstrained suppleness of metrical structure, the unfailing humor of the pointed the consummate art of their apparent artlessness. Keen insight into the foibles of human nature is found throughout, but in the later books ingenuity is employed to make the fable cover, yet convey, social doctrines and sympathies more democratic than the age would have tolerated in unmasked expression. Almost from the start, the Fables entered French literary consciousness to a greater degree than any other classic of its literature. For generations many of these little apologues have been read, committed to memory, recited, and paraphrased, by every French school child. Countless phrases from them are current idioms, and familiarity with them is assumed.