|Born||April 16, 1844
|Died||October 12, 1924 (aged 80)
|Notable award(s)||Nobel Prize in
|French literary history|
Anatole France (16 April 1844—12 October 1924), born François-Anatole Thibault, 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 Nobel Prize for Literature.
The son of a bookseller, France spent most of his life around books. 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. Anatole France studied at the Collège Stanislas 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.
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. He moved Paul Verlaine and Mallarmé aside of this Parnasse. As a journalist, from 1867, he wrote a lot of 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 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.
He was elected to the Académie française in 1896.
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."
He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1921. He died in 1924 and is buried in the Neuilly-sur-Seine community cemetery near Paris.
"We have never heard the devil's side of the story, God wrote all the book."
Ferdinand de Lesseps
|Seat 38, Académie française
ANATOLE FRANCE (1844-), French critic, essayist and novelist (whose real name was Jacques Anatole Thibault), was born in Paris on the 16th of April 1844. His father was a book- seller, one of the last of the booksellers, if we are to believe the Goncourts, into whose establishment men came, not merely to order and buy, but to dip, and turn over pages and discuss. As a child he used to listen to the nightly talks on literary subjects which took place in his father's shop. Nurtured in an atmosphere so essentially bookish, he turned naturally to literature. In 1868 his first work appeared, a study of Alfred de Vigny, followed in 1873 by a volume of verse, Les Poemes dores, dedicated to Leconte de Lisle, and, as such a dedication suggests, an outcome of the "Parnassian" movement; and yet another volume of verse appeared in 1876, Les Noces corinthiennes. But the poems in these volumes, though unmistakably the work of a man of great literary skill and cultured taste, are scarcely the poems of a man with whom verse is the highest form of expression.
He was to find his richest vein in prose. He himself, avowing his preference for a simple, or seemingly simple, style as compared with the artistic style, vaunted by the Goncourts - a style compounded of neologisms and "rare" epithets, and startling forms of expression - observes: "A simple style is like white light. It is complex, but not to outward seeming. In language, a beautiful and desirable simplicity is but an appearance, and results only from the good order and sovereign economy of the various parts of speech." And thus one may say of his own style that its beautiful translucency is the result of many qualities - felicity, grace, the harmonious grouping of words, a perfect measure. Anatole France is a sceptic. The essence of his philosophy, if a spirit so light, evanescent, elusive, can be said to have a philosophy, is doubt. He is a doubter in religion, metaphysics, morals, politics, aesthetics, science - a most genial and kindly doubter, and not at all without doubts even as to his own negative conclusions. Sometimes his doubts are expressed in his own person - as in the Jardin d'epicure (1894) from which the above extracts are taken, or Le Livre de mon ami (1885), which may be accepted, perhaps, as partly autobiographical; sometimes, as in La Rotisserie de la reine Pedauque (1893) and Les Opinions de M. Jerome Coignard (1893), or L'Orme du mail (1897), Le Mannequin d'osier (1897), L'Anneau d'amethyste (1899), and M. Bergeret a Paris (1901), he entrusts the expression of his opinions, dramatically, to some fictitious character - the abbe Coignard, for instance, projecting, as it were, from the 18th century some very effective criticisms on the popular political theories of contemporary France - or the M. Bergeret of the four last-named novels, which were published with the collective title of Histoire contemporaine. This series deals with some modern problems, and particularly, in L'Anneau d'amethyste and M. Bergeret a Paris, with the humours and follies of the anti-Dreyfusards. All this makes a piquant combination. Neither should reference be omitted to his Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard (1881), crowned by the Institute, nor to works more distinctly of fancy, such as Balthasar (1889), the story of one of the Magi or Thais (1890), the story of an actress and courtesan of Alexandria, whom a hermit converts, but with the loss of his own soul. His ironic comedy, Crainquebille (Renaissance theatre, 1903), was founded on his novel (1902) of the same year. His more recent work includes his anti-clerical Vie de Jeanne d'Arc (1908); his pungent satire the lie des penguins (1908); and a volume of stories, Les Sept Femmes de la Barbe-Bleue (1909).
Lightly as he bears his erudition, it is very real and extensive, and is notably shown in his utilization of modern archaeological and historical research in his fiction (as in the stories in Sur une pierre blanche). As a critic - see the Vie litteraire (1888-1892), reprinted mainly from Le Temps - he is graceful and appreciative. Academic in the best sense, he found a place in the French Academy, taking the seat vacated by Lesseps, and was received into that body on the 24th of December 1896. In the affaire Dreyfus he sided with M. Zola.
For studies of M. Anatole France's talent see Maurice Barres, Anatole France (1885); Jules Lemaitre, Les Contemporains (2nd series, 1886); and G. Brandes, Anatole France (1908). In 1908 Frederic Chapman began an edition of The works of Anatole France in an English translation (John Lane).
Anatole France, born François-Anatole Thibault (16 April 1844, Paris - 12 October 1924, Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire), was a French poet, critic, and novelist. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1921. He was a member of the Académie française.
Anatole France start his career as a parnassianism poet. Later he became an impressionist and he was an atheist. From 1867 he was a journalist. In 1881 he became famous with the novel Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard, membre de l'Institut. It's about an old scholar Sylvester Bonnard, Bonnard wants to make good, but he commits a crime. This novel won France a prize from the French Academy. In 1893 he captured the atmosphere of the fin de siecle in Les Opinions de Jerome Coignard.
France took a part in the Dreyfus Affair. He signed Emile Zola's manifesto supporting Dreyfus. Alfred Dreyfus was a French artillery officer and he was charged with high treason. In 1901 France wrote Monsieur Bergeret about this affair. He stood out against colonialism.