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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
Died 12 October 1924(1924-10-12) (aged 80)
Tours, France
Occupation Novelist
Nationality French
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Literature


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]


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]



France caricatured by GUTH for Vanity Fair, 1909
  • Les Légions de Varus, poem published in 1867 in the Gazette rimée.
  • Poèmes dorés (1873)
  • Les Noces corinthiennes (The Bride of Corinth) (1876)

Prose fiction[edit]

  • Jocaste et Le Chat maigre (Jocasta and the Famished Cat) (1879)
  • Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard (The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard) (1881)
  • Les Désirs de Jean Servien (The Aspirations of Jean Servien) (1882)
  • Abeille (Honey-Bee) (1883)
  • Balthasar (1889)
  • Thaïs (1890)
  • L’Étui de nacre (Mother of Pearl) (1892)
  • La Rôtisserie de la reine Pédauque (At the Sign of the Reine Pédauque) (1892)
  • Les Opinions de Jérôme Coignard (The Opinions of Jerome Coignard) (1893)
  • Le Lys rouge (The Red Lily) (1894)
  • Le Puits de Sainte Claire (The Well of Saint Clare) (1895)
  • L’Histoire contemporaine (A Chronicle of Our Own Times)
    • 1: L’Orme du mail (The Elm-Tree on the Mall)(1897)
    • 2: Le Mannequin d'osier (The Wicker-Work Woman) (1897)
    • 3: L’Anneau d'améthyste (The Amethyst Ring) (1899)
    • 4: Monsieur Bergeret à Paris (Monsieur Bergeret in Paris) (1901)
  • Clio (1900)
  • Histoire comique (A Mummer's Tale) (1903)
  • Sur la pierre blanche (The White Stone) (1905)
  • L'Affaire Crainquebille (1901)
  • L’Île des Pingouins (Penguin Island) (1908)
  • Les Contes de Jacques Tournebroche (The Merrie Tales of Jacques Tournebroche) (1908)
  • Les Sept Femmes de Barbe bleue et autres contes merveilleux (The Seven Wives Of Bluebeard and Other Marvellous Tales) (1909)
  • Les dieux ont soif (The Gods Are Athirst) (1912)
  • La Révolte des anges (The Revolt of the Angels) (1914)


  • Le Livre de mon ami (My Friend's Book) (1885)
  • Pierre Nozière (1899)
  • Le Petit Pierre (Little Pierre) (1918)
  • La Vie en fleur (The Bloom of Life) (1922)


  • Au petit bonheur (1898)
  • Crainquebille (1903)
  • La Comédie de celui qui épousa une femme muette (The Man Who Married A Dumb Wife) (1908)
  • Le Mannequin d'osier (The Wicker Woman) (1928)

Historical biography[edit]

  • Vie de Jeanne d'Arc (The Life of Joan of Arc) (1908)

Literary criticism[edit]

  • Alfred de Vigny (1869)
  • Le Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte (1888)
  • Le Génie Latin (1909)

Social criticism[edit]

  • Le Jardin d’Épicure (The Garden of Epicurus) (1895)
  • Opinions sociales (1902)
  • Le Parti noir (1904)
  • Vers les temps meilleurs (1906)
  • Sur la voie glorieuse (1915)
  • Trente ans de vie sociale, in four volumes, (1949, 1953, 1964, 1973)


Anatole France c. 1921
  • "Some succeed because they are destined to; most succeed because they are determined to."
  • "In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread."
  • "If the path be beautiful, let us not question where it leads."
  • "The history books which contain no lies are extremely tedious."
  • "I prefer the folly of enthusiasm to the indifference of wisdom."
  • "A person is never happy except at the price of some ignorance."
  • "To accomplish great things, we must not only act but also dream, not only plan but also believe."
  • "Irony is the gaiety of reflection and the joy of wisdom."
  • "Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe."
  • "For every monarchy overthrown the sky becomes less brilliant, because it loses a star. A republic is ugliness set free."
  • "She fought him off vigorously, scratched, cried that she will die before she submits, but the chevalier paid no attention to her words and took her. Afterwards, she smiled coyly and told him: "Do not think, dear chevalier, that you won me against my will. Better thank our good preacher who reminded me that we are mortal, and a pleasure missed today is missed forever. Now we can proceed, for I missed too many pleasures while being too prudent for my own good." (Fable by Anatole France.)
  • "If 50 million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing."
  • "Nine tenths of education is encouragement."
  • "All religions breed crime." (Thaïs)
  • "The people who have no weaknesses are terrible: there is no way of taking advantage of them." (The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard)
  • "It is human nature to think wisely and act in an absurd fashion."
  • "The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards."
  • "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
  • "Stupidity is far more dangerous than evil, for evil takes a break from time to time, stupidity does not."
  • "All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another."
  • "We have never heard the devil's side of the story, God wrote the whole book."
  • "One must learn to think well before learning to think; afterward it proves too difficult."
  • "An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't."
  • "When a thing has been said and well said, have no scruple; take it and copy it."
  • "To know is nothing at all; to imagine is everything."


  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]

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260 news items

La Voix du Nord
Wed, 20 Aug 2014 11:11:15 -0700

Un effectif en hausse, une cantine devenue trop petite… Au premier trimestre 2013, de gros travaux d'aménagement d'un nouveau réfectoire avaient démarré au lycée Anatole-France. Financés par la Région, ils ont permis la construction d'une nouvelle ...
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 21:12:57 -0700

Anatole France irrumpió en mi vida en el momento más oportuno. Como lo he referido en otras ocasiones, fui educado en los férreos valores de la moral católica y la llegada de la adolescencia me provocó repetidas crisis de conciencia. Lo que hasta los ...


Thu, 14 Aug 2014 17:00:00 -0700

A sensitive 19th-century writer named Anatole France once wrote: “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened.” Today in Noseland, we write the sequel: “Until one has named an animal, a part of one's soul remains unidentified.”.
Porterville Recorder
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 09:18:45 -0700

Anatole France. There is a battle going on in cities across the nation regarding the homeless. Citizens get reasonably frustrated when panhandlers pester them on the street, especially when doing so at busy intersections or in such a way as to endanger ...

The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 23:56:15 -0700

Re Pay Fine, Do No Time (editorial, Aug. 6): In 1517, a German friar called Martin Luther ignited the Protestant Reformation when he nailed his Ninety-five Theses to a church door in Wittenberg. The Theses were Luther's arguments against the Catholic ...
Tageblatt online
Mon, 11 Aug 2014 01:15:00 -0700

... Bryan Schmitz und Philippe Schroeder (Nr. 7) bei den U16-Jungen. Los geht's heute morgen in der rue Anatole France um 9.00 Uhr. Spielpläne sowie alle weiteren Informationen findet man unter folgendem Link auf der Internetseite von Tennis Europe:
Chico News & Review
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 00:35:27 -0700

Anatole France. The art of pets As soon as humans started making stick figures on cave walls, we drew pets by our side. Everyone from Gaugin to Lord Byron, and Picasso to Joe Pesci's mom in Goodfellas has been inspired by pets to create, and animal ...


Fri, 25 Jul 2014 05:55:53 -0700

Refresh with a Sparkling Beverage. The city of Paris has set up a number of water fountains, five of which serve sparkling water. The latest of these fountains, called La Pétillante, was inaugurated in July on the Berges de Seine (4, quai Anatole ...

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