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Anatole France Poster

Biography

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Overview (3)

Born in Paris, France
Died in Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire, Indre-et-Loire, France
Birth NameJacques-Anatole-François Thibault

Mini Bio (1)

Anatole France, the 1921 Nobel laureate for literature, was born Jacques Anatole Thibault in Paris on April 16, 1844, the son of a Paris book dealer. He attended the Parisian boys' school Collège Stanislas, where he received a classical education, and later matriculated at the École des Chartes. For 20 years after finishing his education, he worked at various positions, including the post of assistant librarian of the French Senate from 1876 to 1890, before devoting himself full-time to writing. He was able to write even when he worked, and in his life-time in which he became the premier French man of letters, he produced a vast output of novels, as well as works in every genre. A story-teller in the French classical style, his literary precursors were Voltaire and Fénélon. His urbane skepticism and enlightened hedonism were in the spirit and tradition of the French enlightenment of the 18th century. His epicurean philosophy was limned in his 1895 book of aphorisms, "The Garden of Epicurus."

France's first great success was the novel "Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard (1881), which was honored by the Académie Française. France later became a member of the Académie in 1896. He published an autobiographical novel in 1885, "Le Livre de mon ami" ["My Friend's Book"], which he followed up with "Pierre Nozière" (1899), "Le Petit Pierre" (1918), and "La Vie au fleur" (1922) ["The Bloom of Life"].

France was the literary critic on the "Le Temps" newspaper, and his reviews were published in a four-volume collection entitled "La Vie littéraire" [On Life and Letters] between 1888 and 1892. It was in this period that France wrote historical fiction about past civilizations, focusing particularly on the transition from paganism to Christianity. He published "Balthazar" (1889), a story of the conversion of one of the Magi, and "Thaïs" (1890), about the conversion of an Alexandrian courtesan. In 1891, he published "L'Étui de nacre" ["Mother of Pearl"], the story of a hermit and a faun. It was during this period that the classicist France reacted strongly against Emile Zola's naturalism.

Approximately half of France's output appeared in periodicals and newspapers. The style of his novels was rooted in elegance and a subtle irony. "La Rôtisserie de la Reine Pédauque" ["At the Sign of the Reine Pédauque], a historical novel about life in 18th century France, was published in 1893. It proved to be the most celebrated of France's novels; that same year, he used the central character of the novel, the Abbé Coignard, in "Les Opinions de Jérôme Coignard." The Abbé again appeared in "Le Puits de Sainte Claire" ["The Well of Saint Claire"], a collection of stories published in 1895.

With "Le Lys rouge" ["The Red Lily"], a tragic love story published in 1894, France returned to contemporary fiction. In 1896, he began a cycle of prose works focused on the character of Professor Bergeret, one of his most famous literary creations, in the "Histoire contemporaine," published between 1896 and 1901.

He protested the unjust conviction of Captain Alfed Dreyfuss for treason and the anti-semitism of the French establishment that permitted his persecution, and developed an empathy for socialism. After the Dreyfus Affair, in which he came out in support of Zola, Dreyfus' great champion, France's work became more engaged socially and slanted increasingly towards political satire. In 1908, he published a satire about the Dreyfus Affair, "L'Île des pingouins" ["Penguin Island"]. Also that year, his biography of Joan of Arc was published. His other major works of his later period include "Les Dieux ont soif (1912) ["The Gods are Athirst"], a novel about the French Revolution, and "La Révolte des anges" (1914) ["The Revolt of the Angels].

Anatole France was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1921, "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." In the presentation Speech by E.A. Karlfeldt, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, the author of historical novels about the transition from paganism to Christianity was praised for limning "a faith purified by healthy doubts, by the spirit of clarity, a new humanism, a new Renaissance, a new Reformation."

Karlfeldt would go on to praise rance as "the faithful servant of truth and beauty, the heir of humanism, of the lineage of Rabelais, Montaigne, Voltaire, [and ]Renan," but first, he would honor him as embodying the best of French civilization and letters:

"Sweden cannot forget the debt which, like the rest of the civilized world, she owes to French civilization," Karlfeldt said. "Formerly we received in abundance the gifts of French Classicism like the ripe and delicate fruits of antiquity. Without them, where would we be? This is what we must ask ourselves today. In our time Anatole France has been the most authoritative representative of that civilization; he is the last of the great classicists. He has even been called the last European. And indeed, in an era in which chauvinism, the most criminal and stupid of ideologies, wants to use the ruins of the great destruction for the building of new walls to prevent free intellectual exchange between peoples, his clear and beautiful voice is raised higher than that of others, exhorting people to understand that they need one another. Witty, brilliant, generous, this knight without fear is the best champion in the sublime and incessant war which civilization has declared against barbarism. He is a marshal of the France of the glorious era in which Corneille and Racine created their heroes.

France used the occasion to himself honor the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, the Swedish Prime Minister Karl Hjalmar Branting, a diplomat who worked for disarmament and helped draft the Geneva Protocol, a proposed international security system mandating arbitration between belligerent nations. France also denounced the Versailles Treaty as being unjust and a continuation of the Great War and called for the instillation of common sense among diplomats lest Europe meet its doom. After France received his Prize from the King of Sweden, after all the laureates had again ascended the rostrum, France turned to Professor Walther Nernst, the German Nobel laureate for chemistry, and shook his hand cordially for an extended time. The gesture profoundly moved the crowd as the symbolism of the meeting of the heart (literature) and the head (science) and of two nations so recently engaged in waging a ruinous war against each other was not missed. The audience applauded the gesture as a symbol of reconciliation between France, the nation, and Germany.

Anatole France's writings were put on the Index of Forbidden Books of the Roman Catholic Church in the 1920s. Between 1925 and 1935, France's collected works were published in 25 volumes.

Anatole France died on October 12, 1924 in Tours, Indre-et-Loire, France and was buried in the Ancient Cemetery of Neuilly, Hauts-de-Seine.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (2)

Emma Laprévotte (11 October 1920 - 12 October 1924) ( his death)
Valerie Guérin de Sauville (28 April 1877 - 1893) ( divorced) ( 1 child)

Trivia (2)

Was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1921.
Fought with the French army during the Siege of Paris in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War.

Personal Quotes (32)

Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another.
People who have no weaknesses are terrible; there is no way of taking advantage of them.
The Law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich, as well as the poor, to sleep under the bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.
To die for an idea is to set a rather high price upon conjecture.
To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.
Hell is truth seen too late.
It is not easy to be a pretty woman without causing mischief.
The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards; and curiosity itself can be vivid and wholesome only in proportion as the mind is contented and happy.
A good critic is one who narrates the adventures of his mind among masterpieces.
The faculty of doubting is rare among men. A few choice spirits carry the germs of it in them, but these do not develop without training.
To imagine is everything, to know is nothing at all.
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 know and what you don't.
The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.
When a thing has been said, and said well, have no scruple. Take it and copy it.
I prefer the errors of enthusiasm to the indifference of wisdom.
In art as in love, instinct is enough.
All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.
You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; in just the same way, you learn to love by loving.
You can't undo anything you've already done, but you can face up to it. You can tell the truth. You can seek forgiveness. And then let God do the rest.
I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish He didn't trust me so much.
One thing above all gives charm to men's thoughts, and this is unrest. A mind that is not uneasy irritates and bores me.
Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened.
If a million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
What frightens us most in a madman is his sane conversation."
Chance is perhaps the pseudonym of God when he does not wish to sign his work.
I do not know any reading more easy, more fascinating, more delightful than a catalogue.
The truth is that life is delicious, horrible, charming, frightful, sweet, bitter, and that is everything.
Existence would be intolerable if we were never to dream.
What frightens us most in a madman is his sane conversation. Add to my book
Religion has done love a great service by making it a sin.
If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.
Those who have given themselves the most concern about the happiness of others have made their neighbors very miserable.

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