Saturday, April 16, 2022

Apr. 16: Anatole France, French "man of letters"


Anatole France (born François-Anatole Thibault, 1844-1924) was a French poet, journalist, and novelist; he had several best-sellers, and was considered the "ideal French man of letters" in his day--indeed, the citation for his 1921 Nobel Prize in Literature mentioned that he had "a true Gallic temperament." He grew up in his father's bookstore, which specialized in the French Revolution. His many novels include Thaïs, about a legendary 4th-century female Egyptian saint; At the Sign of the Reine Pédauque, about the tribulations of a young man at the beginning of the 18th century; Penguin Island, a satirical fictional history, in which a nearly-blind missionary baptizes a bunch of birds and the Lord, to fix the problem, turns the birds into humans (they establish Penguinia, a country with a history which mirrors that of France); The Gods Are Athirst, about the rise and fall of a painter-turned-jurist in the dark years of the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution; and The Revolt of the Angels, about the well-known story of the war in heaven between the angels led by the Archangel Michael and those led by Satan. He also wrote poetry, memoirs, plays, and literary and social criticism.


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