Anatole France, 1844-1924


Biographical note

French poet, journalist, and novelist. He was born in Paris, and died in Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire. He was a successful novelist, with several best-sellers. Ironic and skeptical, he was considered in his day the ideal French man of letters. He was a member of the Académie française, and won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Anatole France began his career as a poet and a journalist. He became famous with the novel Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard [1881]. Its protagonist, skeptical old scholar Sylvester Bonnard, embodied France's own personality. The novel was praised for its elegant prose and won him a prize from the French Academy.

In La Rotisserie de la Reine Pedauque [1893] Anatole France ridiculed belief in the occult; and in Les Opinions de Jerome Coignard [1893], France captured the atmosphere of the fin de siècle.

France took an important part in the Dreyfus Affair. He signed Emile Zola's manifesto supporting Dreyfus, a Jewish army officer who had been falsely convicted of espionage. France wrote about the affair in his 1901 novel Monsieur Bergeret.

France's later works include L'Île des Pingouins [1908] which satirizes human nature by depicting the transformation of penguins into humans - after the animals have been baptized in error by the nearsighted Abbot Mael.

La Revolte des Anges [1914] is often considered France's most profound novel. It tells the story of Arcade, the guardian angel of Maurice d'Esparvieu. Arcade falls in love, joins the revolutionary movement of angels, and towards the end realizes that the overthrow of God is meaningless unless "in ourselves and in ourselves alone we attack and destroy Ialdabaoth."

Works (in English translation)

Works (in French)

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