“Superstar” of his time, forgotten today… why you need to reread Anatole France

“Superstar” of his time, forgotten today… why you need to reread Anatole France
“Superstar” of his time, forgotten today… why you need to reread Anatole France

Anatole France in 1903.
© Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images

Even a century after his death, the 1921 Nobel Prize for Literature, awarded to Dreyfus, unanimously celebrated in his time, remains little known to readers. How to explain this disenchantment?

In The Gods are thirsty, in the midst of the French Revolution, the young artist Évariste Gamelin dreams of a virtuous world. To put an end to centuries of inequality and abuse of power, he would like to erase the kings and jacks from card games and replace them with allegories of equality or fraternity. He sits on the revolutionary tribunal where, driven by noble feelings, he does not hesitate to send some relatives to the guillotine. He lets his heart and his ideals speak because, notes Anatole France, those who judged “ with the heart, these always condemned “. The infernal mechanics of Good will end up leading Évariste himself to the scaffold, and the author ironically underlines these paradoxes of human destiny.

His 1912 novel was long considered a flagship of literature, even more so after the Nobel Prize which crowned Anatole France in 1921…

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