Anatole France

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Anatole France
Anatole France young years.jpg
Born(1844-04-16)16 April 1844
Paris, France
Died12 October 1924(1924-10-12) (aged 80)
Tours, France
OccupationNovelist
NationalityFrench
Notable awardsNobel Prize in Literature
1921

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For the metro station, see Anatole France (Paris Métro).
Anatole France
Anatole France young years.jpg
Born(1844-04-16)16 April 1844
Paris, France
Died12 October 1924(1924-10-12) (aged 80)
Tours, France
OccupationNovelist
NationalityFrench
Notable awardsNobel Prize in Literature
1921

Signature

Anatole France (pronounced: [anatɔl fʁɑ̃s]; born François-Anatole Thibault,[1] [frɑ̃swa anatɔl tibo]; 16 April 1844 – 12 October 1924) was a 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 1921 Nobel Prize for Literature "in recognition of his brilliant literary achievements, characterized as they are by a nobility of style, a profound human sympathy, grace, and a true Gallic temperament".

France is also widely believed to be the model for narrator Marcel's literary idol Bergotte in Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time.[2]

Early years[edit]

The son of a bookseller, France spent most of his life around books. France was a bibliophile.[3] His father's bookstore, called the Librairie France, specialized in books and papers on the French Revolution and was frequented by many notable writers and scholars of the day.[1] Anatole France studied at the Collège Stanislas, a private Catholic school, and after graduation he helped his father by working in his bookstore. After several years he secured the position of cataloguer at Bacheline-Deflorenne and at Lemerre. In 1876 he was appointed librarian for the French Senate.

Literary career[edit]

Anatole France began his career as a poet and a journalist. In 1869, Le Parnasse Contemporain published one of his poems, La Part de Madeleine. In 1875, he sat on the committee which was in charge of the third Parnasse Contemporain compilation. As a journalist, from 1867, he wrote many articles and notices. 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 Académie française.

France's home, 5 Villa Said, 1894–1924

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 was elected to the Académie française in 1896.

France took an important part in the Dreyfus Affair. He signed Émile Zola's manifesto supporting Alfred 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 by mistake by the nearsighted Abbot Mael. Les dieux ont soif (1912) is a novel, set in Paris during the French Revolution, about a true-believing follower of Robespierre and his contribution to the bloody events of the Reign of Terror of 1793–94. It is a wake-up call against political and ideological fanaticism and explores various other philosophical approaches to the events of the time. 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."

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1921. He died in 1924 and is buried in the Neuilly-sur-Seine community cemetery near Paris.

On 31 May 1922, France's entire works were put on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Prohibited Books Index) of the Roman Catholic Church.[4] He regarded this as a "distinction".[5] This Index was abolished in 1966.

Private life[edit]

In 1877, Anatole France married Valérie Guérin de Sauville, a granddaughter of Jean-Urbain Guérin a miniaturist who painted Louis XVI,[6] with whom he had a daughter, Suzanne, in 1881 (dec. 1918). France's relations with women were always turbulent, and in 1888 he began a relationship with Madame Arman de Caillavet, who conducted a celebrated literary salon of the Third Republic; the affair lasted until shortly before her death in 1910.[6] After his divorce in 1893, he had many liaisons, notably with Mme. Gagey, who committed suicide in 1911. France married again in 1920, Emma Laprévotte.[7]

Reputation[edit]

After his death in 1924 France was the object of written attacks, including a particularly venomous one from the Nazi collaborator, Pierre Drieu la Rochelle, and detractors decided he was a vulgar and derivative writer. An admirer, the English writer George Orwell, defended him however and declared that he remained very readable, and that "it is unquestionable that he was attacked partly from political motives. The clerics and reactionaries hated him in just the same way as they hated Zola. [France] had lost no opportunity of poking fun at the Church. He was everything that the clerics and revanchists, the people who afterwards sucked the blacking off Hitler's boots, most detested." [8]

Works[edit]

Poetry[edit]

France caricatured by GUTH for Vanity Fair, 1909

Prose fiction[edit]

Memoirs[edit]

Plays[edit]

Historical biography[edit]

Literary criticism[edit]

Social criticism[edit]

Quotes[edit]

Anatole France c. 1921

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b w:fr:Anatole France
  2. ^ "Marcel Proust: A Life, by Edmund White,". 
  3. ^ "Anatole France". benonsensical. 24 July 2010. 
  4. ^ Halsall, Paul (May 1998). "Modern History Sourcebook: Index librorum prohibitorum, 1557–1966 (Index of Prohibited Books)". Internet History Sourcebooks Project (Fordham University). 
  5. ^ Current Opinion, September 1922, p. 295.
  6. ^ a b Edouard Leduc (2004). Anatole France avant l'oubli. Editions Publibook. pp. 222–. ISBN 978-2-7483-0397-1. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  7. ^ Lahy-Hollebecque, M. (1924). Anatole France et la femme. Baudinière, 1924, 252 p.
  8. ^ Orwell, Collected Works, I Have Tried to Tell the Truth, p.262

External links[edit]