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Title: Anatole France
Author: George, Walter Lionel
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Anatole France" ***






        _A BED OF ROSES_
        _ISRAEL KALISCH._ (_American Title: UNTIL THE DAY BREAK_)


        _OLGA NAZIMOV_



[Illustration: ANATOLE FRANCE]





_First Published in 1915_


    I. INTRODUCTORY                         7

   II. SATIRIST AND CRITIC                 26



    V. THE CRAFTSMAN AND THE MAN          100


       ENGLISH BIBLIOGRAPHY               123

       AMERICAN BIBLIOGRAPHY              125

       INDEX                              126


In this monograph I have used the translated titles of the works. When
French titles appear it should be inferred that the book in question is
so far untranslated.





Irony is for the ironic. He has shown himself military at the last,
but I believe Anatole France would have smiled, a little wistfully,
if told that a young man had sentenced himself to read every one of
his works and to write a book about them while there raged round him a
European War. Such an atmosphere may seem unpropitious, but it was not
really so; it was an atmosphere of paradox; it was odd to analyse the
great pacifist while Europe writhed in conflict; still odder to think
of him as throwing aside his pen and at the age of seventy taking up
his forsworn sword. But in the case of Anatole France the work is as
great as the man and it afforded me a contrast with patriotism. This
background of patriotism, so queerly compounded of beer, sweat, fine
courage, self-sacrifice, self-interest, of insane prejudices, heavy
ignorances and melting heroisms, was so exactly what I needed to bring
out the dapper quality of the great Frenchman’s thought. No muddled
impulses here, but a clear, cold light which reveals, together with
all that is beautiful, all that is ugly; here a brain that is without
illusions, and yet without bitterness; that is not taken in by flags,
and priests, and frontiers, yet at the same time can love priests for
their faith, flags for their symbolism, frontiers for the contrasts
they create in man. In _On Life and Letters_, Anatole France tells us
that during the war of 1870 he sat practically under the fire of the
German guns, with M. F. Calmette, reading Virgil. I did not write these
lines under the fire of the German guns but, in the hectic atmosphere
of war-time, to write about Anatole France created in me no doubt much
the same kind of feeling as was his that day.

I do not apologise for the egotism which is already invading this
monograph, and I suppose I shall remain egotistic as I go on. For the
works of Anatole France are too bulky, too many to be appraised one by
one; they raise so many issues that a fat quarto volume would hardly
suffice to analyse all, and it would be rather dull. Believing that
criticism is “the adventures of the soul among masterpieces,” I am much
more inclined to give the adventures of my intellect (claiming no soul)
among the works of Anatole France. I have read very little about him,
indeed but one book, by Mr Georg Brandes, and in the early part of 1914
a number of articles when Anatole France paid us a visit. They are very
distressing, those articles, as they appear to have been written mainly
by men who do not know what they are talking about, but can talk about
it exactly to the extent of a column. I refer to the alleged evolution
of Anatole France, of which something must be said a little further on.

The temptation to translate long quotations was very great, for
translation is a challenging exercise and an uneasy, but, so far as
possible, I have resisted it. I think it only fair to say that, as
a rule, I have not translated very closely, but attempted to render
selected passages, fitting the style to the matter; that is, for
philosophic or descriptive passages I have, as much as possible, used
Latinised English; for the more familiar portions I have drawn upon our
slender stock of Anglo-Saxon.[1] As for the classifications, Anatole
France satirist, critic, politician, philosopher, etc., they are
necessarily rather rough; they overlap because not one of his books is
one thing, and one thing only. In that direction too I must claim the
reader’s indulgence.

    [1] I should like to say in this respect that I am greatly
        indebted to Mr John Lane, who owns the British copyright of
        most of the works of Anatole France, for leave not only to
        quote portions of his translations, but also to retranslate
        and condense the French text. A full list of the English
        titles of the works will be found at the end of this volume.

Yet another word: I come neither to bury Anatole France nor to praise
him; there is in one-man criticism a danger that it should be too
favourable, for the critic tends to choose as a subject an author whom
he whole-heartedly worships. Now I do not worship Anatole France; I
have had to read every one of his works over again in the last few
weeks, and if there is anything calculated to make one hate a writer
for evermore it is to read all his works one after the other. People
are afraid to criticise Anatole France adversely; he seems to have
attained the position now accorded to Galileo (who was tortured), to
Joan of Arc (who was burned), to Wagner (who was hooted), to everybody,
in fact, who ever did anything worth while. In his early years, when
de Maupassant, Zola, Daudet, were alive, he was ignored; everything
was done to keep him down: the Académie Française went so far as to
give him a prize. But times have changed; Anatole France is acclaimed
all over the world; everybody quotes him, and those who cannot quote
him quote his name; he is above criticism. This would be very bad
for him if he were not also above adulation. People dare not say the
things which should be obvious: that he repeats himself; that he is
sentimental; that his novels are, from the point of view of French
technique, incoherent; that, as expressed by his characters, his
conception of love is rather disgusting; in fact, they take all the
humanity out of him by endowing him with all the graces; they erect to
him a statue which represents him just about as much as the sort of
statue they occasionally put up to some highly respectable politician
whom they depict stark naked, and beautiful as a young _discobolus_.

The reason probably is that it is not enough to understand Anatole
France; one also has to understand the French, the gay, sensual,
garrulous French of the Middle Ages, the gay, sensual, courteous
French of the seventeenth century, the gay, sensual, cynical French of
Voltairian times, and the sensual, cynical French of to-day. Anatole
France is all these, a sort of historical congress of French epochs, a
retrospective exhibition of French mentalities. That perhaps explains
the confusion which reigns in the minds of a great many people as to
his alleged evolution from reaction to red socialism, a confusion so
great that it seems to have touched even Mr Georg Brandes.

It is not wonderful that Anatole France should be so representative,
for he is a provincial by extraction, a Parisian by birth and
environment. The whole of his biography is revealed in his books, so
it is enough to say that he was born in 1844, in the Quarter (that was
inevitable), that he grew up in his father’s old bookshop near the
quays of the Seine, listening, as he grew up, sometimes to the talk
of republicans, for those were the days of the Second Empire, much
more often to that of elegant half-worldling abbés and aristocrats,
for his father was a pronounced Royalist and Catholic, as was also his
mother.... Old books, good talk, and the Seine lazily flowing under
the plane-trees before there were steam trams. It is all very like
Anatole France, like the four volumes of _Contemporary History_ where
the bookshop is the centre, like _Pierre Nozière_ and _My Friend’s
Book_. Then little France (whose real name is Thibault) went to the
Collège Stanislas to be brought up as a good Royalist child. But he
did not do particularly well there, thus bearing out the legend of the
prize boy. Notably he loafed. Anatole France in life has always loafed,
which is natural enough in one who was born near bridges. Who would not
loaf who has a flowing river to watch? It might be said that Anatole
France has loafed through thirty-five volumes.

As he grew up he accomplished desultory tasks, he taught, he wrote
articles for the papers; in 1868 he published his study of Alfred de
Vigny; in 1873 and 1876 he gave us two volumes of verse, _Poèmes Dorés_
and _Les Noces Corinthiennes_. Not very startling or attractive verse;
however deep Anatole France’s poetic feeling, he has never approached
greatness as a poet, perhaps because he was always too calm, too
detached, because so seldom did his eye in fine frenzy roll. Only when
at last, in 1879, he published his first work of creative prose, two
longish stories, _Jocasta_ and _The Famished Cat_, followed, two years
later, by _The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard_, and in 1882 by _Les Désirs
de Jean Servien_,[2] was born the Anatole France we know to-day.

    [2] The title is given in English if the work has been
        translated, in French if it has not.

I cannot lay too much stress upon that. Anatole France was potentially
in 1881 what he is now. It has continually been suggested that, up
to 1898 and the revival of the Dreyfus case, Anatole France was a
reactionary, a clerical, an anti-democrat; that, somehow, in an
unexplained manner, he underwent a change of heart and suddenly turned
into a humanitarian socialist; and a few bold folk hinted, when _The
Gods are Athirst_ appeared in 1913, that Anatole France, because he
painted a dreadful and therefore not over-kind picture of the French
Revolution, had reacted again. Briefly: the genius as weathercock. It
has even been suggested that Anatole France wrote this reactionary book
to make his peace with the respectable classes and to get into the
Académie Française: the answer is that Anatole France was a member of
that august body seventeen years before the publication of the book.

An examination of Anatole France’s early works is vital to this
question, notably of _Jocasta_, which has very little to do with the
myth, for there is no Œdipus to murder his father and marry his mother;
Anatole France is too modern for that. It is a queer, horrible story of
the daughter of a shady middleman who, instead of marrying the young
doctor she loves, weds a wealthy and sinister old Englishman, whom,
to her knowledge, his valet murders. Fearing discovery and haunted by
remorse (the Furies), emulating Jocasta, she hangs herself. This story
would hardly be worth mentioning save for its fine literary style and
its high characterisation of Fellaire, the solemn, kindly, bumptious,
sentimental middleman, of Haviland, the dry and methodical collector,
if already here Anatole France were not at the age of thirty-five
indicating what he would become. For he makes a journalist say in
conclusion, after discussing the immortality of the soul and deciding
that it is really a very complicated question: “Fortunately the
Almighty is not a subject for an up-to-date par.”

In the second story, _The Famished Cat_, where again we have the
quite magical picture of Godet-Laterasse, the seedy revolutionary,
and of the absurd people concerned with absurd arts at the Famished
Cat tavern, we find another incarnation of the future Anatole France:
the sculptor Labanne, lazy, ironic, who moralises on art rather as
will Choulette in _The Red Lily_, fifteen years later. But it is in
_The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard_ that Anatole France most clearly
indicates his own future. This is just the straggling story of Bonnard,
the old professor, who observes the world, interested in women,
Benedictine chronicles, the Arc de Triomphe, cats and the love affairs
of fourteenth-century queens. The old gentleman watches over the
granddaughter of one whom he loved but never married. He behaves quite
quixotically, protects her against a schoolmistress who ill treats her;
at last he kidnaps her to make her happy, and all ends well in spite of
a little tragedy when the girl marries and old Bonnard sells his books
to give her a dowry. It is all most incoherent, and one never quite
knows what Sylvestre Bonnard’s crime was; it may be the abduction (for
old Bonnard, learned in the law of the sixth century, knows nothing
of the Code Napoleon), or it may be, which is much more likely, that
when he sells his books there are some he cannot bear to part with,
even to afford his ward a dowry, and that he goes by night now and
then to steal a few of them from the pile. The whole story is full of
charm, and Mr Georg Brandes is unjust when he describes it as a simple
tale. It is much more than that: it singularly reveals Anatole France
himself, for here we have a man aged thirty-six writing as a kindly,
rather cynical, faintly ironic old gentleman, fond of the classics and
of humanity. Children make him sentimental; he lectures his cat on
immortal truth. He says: “I have always preferred the folly of passion
to the wisdom of indifference.” And that is true, only one feels that
he loves best the folly of passion when it afflicts others. The book
ends on a melancholic note, which is perhaps not so melancholic as it
seems, for it brings out life passing by, all golden and bloody, as an
old, old ship with a sumptuous figurehead, with ragged silken sails,
carrying the embalmed corpses of those who first signed on, and their
own sons growing up, full of sap, their thick hair streaming in the
wind. Already in this book Anatole France is gentle. He is remorseful
because “he has made fun of an unhappy man”; he is full of pity for
a beggar-boy who will not accept a bit of gingerbread, and says: “He
dares not touch it: in virtue of precocious experience he does not
believe in happiness.” He states a general theory: the time that God
gives each one of us is as a precious fabric which we embroider as well
as we may. This man of thirty-six is already old; he has laid his hand
on the head of man as if he were a little child, and said: “Creature
that thinkest to find eternity in the intensity of thy sufferings, in
their permanence, in the impossibility of thy loves, and the greatness
of thy charms; oh, little creature on this blind world, I, old man, old
God, who have seen so many worlds like this one busily spinning, let
me beg thee be not so urgent, so hot, so young. For I am old, old as
truth, and I know the shortness of thy pains.”

Who is Sylvestre Bonnard? Sylvestre Bonnard is Bergeret, is Coignard,
is Brotteaux, he is the first of all those nice old gentlemen who
pass through the pages of Anatole France. He has never changed; he
was born like a young rat in a book-case, and so he remained. Those
old gentlemen believe in service, resignation; they are tolerant and
indulgent, and are always ready to say when the time comes, to any
God you prefer, for they don’t mind: “_Et nunc dimittis servum tuum,

The philosophical humanitarian who was to defend Dreyfus existed,
then, in 1881; the subsidiary motives existed too in those years. For
instance, in _My Friend’s Book_ (1885) the small boy says: “I saw my
father, my mother and the maid as very gentle giants who had witnessed
the birth of the world, immutable, everlasting, unique of their kind.”
That is exactly what the little dog, Riquet, thinks of man in general
and what Anatole France perfidiously allows us to conclude man has
always thought of God. Already he is cynical, and yet smiling, for he
says: “I have faith no longer in my old friend, life: yet I still love
it.” But there is in this book a more important indication of the man
to come; it is not only the alleged Socialist of 1898 that already
exists, but the passionate pagan of 1914. In _My Friend’s Book_ he
takes a little girl to a Punch and Judy show. Punch kills the devil,
and Pierre Nozière (Anatole France) remarks: “The devil dead, good-bye
sin. Maybe beauty, this ally of the devil, will vanish with him. Maybe
we shall not again see the flowers that intoxicate and the eyes that
slay.” Any student of Anatole France will realise that in 1885 the
author was already expressing what he would state more fully in 1914
in _The Revolt of the Angels_--namely, his fear and hatred of ascetic,
beauty-hating, death-desirous Christianity.

And there is more: forgive me if I paint the lily a little, but
others have painted it and in colours which displease me. The alleged
reactionary of _The Gods are Athirst_, the man who was supposed to
have gone back in 1914 upon the humanitarian and republican sentiments
of the Dreyfus period, that man was, in 1882, in _Les Désirs de Jean
Servien_ (a thoroughly second-rate novelette), painting an absurd
revolutionary. The Commune reigns; he shows the hero the people rioting
in the Luxembourg Gardens, and says: “M. Servien, look upon this scene
and never forget it: here is a free people. _Indeed the citizens were
walking upon the grass, plucking flowers in the beds, and breaking
off the branches of the trees._” Anatole France had in those days few
illusions as to the behaviour of free peoples! And again in the short
stories which make up _Mother of Pearl_ (1892) one is oppressed by
Anatole France’s hatred of the revolutionaries, their brute ignorance,
vanity, stupidity, their mean revengefulness, and their silly imitation
of Roman attitudes.

Anatole France is what he was, and if he seems to have changed
now and then, or to have been inconsistent, it is because he is a
developed human being, a rare bird. He has not cut out his views
as with a stencil; they are fluid, they overlap, and he can hold
simultaneously two entirely divergent views. I submit that any man of
high intellectual development tends to hold two views upon one topic.
One view is that of his instinct, the other is that of his reason.
In the case of Anatole France the instinct is always hedonistic; he
is a pagan; he loves Greece, Rome, the Middle Ages, and even the
Catholic Church, for their beauty; he is fond of all the good things
of the world, beautiful women, flowers, sweetmeats; of all the fine,
disdainful aristocratic ideas of the artists and the philosophers....
But there is what may be called his social conscience, which is
utilitarian and Socialistic. That conscience tells him that however
much beauty he may extract from it, this world, filled with wars, with
cruelties, with factories, with ugly houses and ugly clothes, with
mean prejudices, is a world for which he is responsible because he
is a man. The dream of that ugly world will not let him sleep easily
upon his rose-decked couch. There is the conflict which has puzzled so
many of his readers; sometimes an Epicurean, at other times a sort of
Lloyd Georgeite is apparent. This does not mean that Anatole France is
throwing over any ideas; he is merely being more or less influenced
by one side of his own self. His love of humanity has always made it
difficult for him to enjoy the fruit he raised to his mouth if it
occurred to him just then that other mouths might go hungry.



If Anatole France is to be remembered--that is, for a while, which is
perhaps all a man can hope--it will be as a critic and as a satirist.
Whether he will be remembered longer than his contemporaries, Tolstoy
or Mr Shaw, I do not know. Though he has delighted us, the race of
delights is short and pleasures have mutable faces; he may share the
fate of Flaubert, who is menaced; of de Maupassant, who is going;
or of Schiller, forgotten; of Walter Scott, reduced to a juvenile
circulation; of Thackeray, staking all upon one novel; of Dickens,
surviving by the picturesque; of Tolstoy, convicted as a moralist; of
Greeks uneasily staggering under the burden of illogical murder and
absurd incest ... I do not think that he will join the glorious band:
Homer, Shakespeare, Molière. For Anatole France has understood all
things, but mainly in their details. He has made a mosaic, not a marble
court; seated on Olympus, his eyes have been too keen, and he has seen
men too clearly, man not enough. But still he is, I suppose, assured of
his line in any biographical dictionary that may be printed in the year
3000, and that is a good deal. I like to think of that entry in the
_Cyclopædia of Literature_ (published by the International Government
Press; price, seven days labour bonds, net). It runs something like

    FRANCE (Anatole). Pen-name of Jacques Anatole Thibault. French
      writer, b. 1844. d.     . Satirist and critic. Some of his
      work has merit as reflecting the faintly enlightened views
      of an observer living in barbarous times.

Anatole France is the only living satirist. He has actually no rivals;
there are men such as Messrs Max Beerbohm, Hansi, Mirbeau, Hector
Munro, F. P. Dunne, who have a glimmering of what satire means; Mr
Wells would have more than a glimmering if, unfortunately, he did not
hold deep convictions about right and wrong, a weakness to which, in
spite of all appearances, Mr Shaw also succumbs; but Anatole France
alone upholds the ancient tradition of Voltaire, of Defoe and Swift.
His satire is always effective because it is always light, always
pointed and always smiling. He has none of the bitterness of Swift and
therefore he is the truer cynic, for true cynicism is not fierce; it
is always genial. He never labours a point; he states, presents the
contrasts between, for instance, what a rich man may do as opposed to a
poor one, and then passes on, laughing, Pan-like dancing, with perhaps
a tear or two in his laughter.

Though almost every book he has written is satirical in intent, or
at least in incident, five volumes are satire pure and simple; as I
have no space to analyse all his works, these five representatives
must expound him. They are _Penguin Island_ and the four volumes of
_Contemporary History_ (_The Elm Tree on the Mall_, _The Wickerwork
Woman_, _L’Anneau d’Améthyste_, _Monsieur Bergeret à Paris_). They
overlap a little, but the spirit which informs them is different.
_Penguin Island_ is broad, applicable to the whole history of man,
while the other four volumes cover rather the modern irregularities of
the French State. For this reason, _Penguin Island_ is a bigger and a
finer thing; indeed it is probably the biggest thing Anatole France
has done, because, dealing as it does with the earliest superstitions
of man, his faith in gods and in God, with the rise of feudalism, the
roots of democracy, war, the birth of art, the action and reaction of
parties, it has a sweep so large that it envelops even ages now in
the womb of time. It is a terrible book, not so much because it is
the thinly veiled history of the French people--that is to say, the
story of follies, miseries and crimes (the story of any other imperial
people)--but because at the end Anatole France reaches forth into the
future. And what he sees is a development of capitalism by the side of
which modern capitalism is as a puling child; he summarises in a phrase
a period of greater New York: “the houses were never high enough.” He
sees the masses rising, revolution, the break-up of the social system,
the return of pastoralism, man once more nomadic ... towns forming
... another aristocracy ... Parliaments ... industry and capitalism
fastening upon the world, and again the houses never high enough....
That is a vision of horror, of a world unchanging, unchangeable, of man
as a dog ever returning to his own vomit. I should like to pursue the
dream further, to the death of the sun, when the earth shall grow cold
and a terrible term be brought to the stupidity of man; he shall once
more be a fearful brute hiding in a cave, until at last, upon his cold
and dying globe, among settling mists, he shall yield up the last spark
of a misused life....

Anatole France is certainly wrong, for no barbarism which the world has
ever known ever was so barbarous as the barbarism that went before. If
the life of man describes a curve, this is not a circle; he does not
interminably return to the same point; rather the curve is a cycloid,
ever bending back upon itself and yet slowly moving onwards towards the
unknown goal. Anatole France does not, I think, quite deny that, but he
is not over-fond of what he calls idle speculation: where his knowledge
stops he is inclined to say: “After all, what does it matter to Sirius?”

The island where the penguins lived was evangelised by St Mael, who
quite naïvely relates how he navigated to its shores in a stone trough.
God served him as rudder and sail. It would have been all right if the
saint had not been short-sighted, but he took the penguins for men
and baptized them, which gave rise to great trouble in heaven and a
wonderful ecclesiastical debate. For St Patrick said that baptism could
not avail birds; St Damasius said it could, for Mael was competent; St
Guenolé said it could not, because penguins were not conceived in sin;
St Augustine thought it could if given in proper form. This caused much
ill feeling in Paradise; Tertullian grew quite vicious and said he was
sorry that the penguins had no soul, as thus they could not go to hell.
The intervention of the Almighty was hailed with unanimous cheers,
which St Augustine backed up by begging Him not to give the penguins a
soul because, as they could not keep the law, they would burn in hell
“in virtue of God’s adorable decrees.” Upon this the disturbance turned
to scandal, and to end it the penguins were turned into men.

Then the troubles of the once happy birds began. They were clad and
modesty was born. Property arose, and murder. The Catholic Devil had
a hand in this and remarked that the murderers were creating rights,
constituting property, laying the bases of civilisation, of society
and the State. He added that the source of property is force. Later
a state formed and the poor only were taxed because they could not
resist, and because there were more of them. A freebooter arose: he
became a king. His armies went to war and were beloved, for they won.
Art appeared; Margaritone foresaw the decadence of ecclesiastical
art and, in a horrid dream, something like post-impressionism. The
priest, Marbode, visited Virgil in hell; the Latin poet remarked that
Dante was rather a bore and that Christ was the god of barbarism.
Then history unrolls. There is a revolution (obviously 1789); Trinco
(Napoleon) appears and a loyal penguin states that glory cannot cost
too much. Modern times give Anatole France a yet greater chance, for
he takes us to New Atlantis (America), where commercial wars are
executed on contract, because a business people must have a policy of
conquest; the European War of 1914, if one dives deep under the crust
of patriotism, sounds very like the war of New Atlantis against Third
Zealand “where they killed two-thirds of the inhabitants to compel
the remaining third to buy from New Atlantis umbrellas and braces.”
Plutocracy. Socialism. Royalist agitations, supported by the leaders of
the army, the wineshops, the newsboys, the police and the courtesans.
All through this section runs the Pyrot case. A traitor (Dreyfus) sold
ninety thousand bundles of hay to the foreigner--that is to say, he
did not sell them, for they did not exist. Yet General Panther says:
“Evidently Pyrot stole them, so all we have to do is to prove it.” To
which another General replies: “Arrest Pyrot. Find some evidence; the
law demands it.”

Then the agitation, difficult because the people like to believe in
guilt and are too stupid to doubt. Still no evidence, and evidence
manufactured. Here Anatole France puts into the General’s mouth
beautiful phrases: “Don’t have evidence; it makes the case less clear”;
and: “It may be better to have no evidence, but still if you must have
some, trumped-up evidence is better than the truth, for it is made
to order.” And so on through popular agitations, Royalist manœuvres,
Boulangism, the renaissance of Catholicism (supported by Jewish money),
political adultery, the rule of gold, until we come to the time when
houses are never high enough....

This is not the satire of Englishmen. It has not the truculence of
Defoe’s _A Short Way with Dissenters_; nor does it state the author’s
view as does any one of Mr Shaw’s plays; nor is it so veiled as
_Gulliver’s Travels_. All this is together elusive and obvious; it aims
at showing the reader what lies under history, man in the soldier’s
coat, his meanness, his greed, his lust for power, and the horrible,
crusted stupidity to which alone are traceable his crimes.

I should not advise any Englishman who is not conversant with French
history to read _Penguin Island_, but I should not advise any
Englishman at all to read the four volumes of _Contemporary History_
unless he has lived in France for the last fifteen years and mixed
in every kind of French society. He will find in those books droll
stories, and droll incidents; he will see that the author is getting
at something, but that is all. For those volumes do not deal with
the big outer movements which one can watch from the columns of _The
Times_. They are concerned with the mysteries inside French politics,
paralleled here by the “Confederates,” the Marconi case, the theft
of the crown jewels at Dublin, the secret history of the rebellion
of the officers at the Curragh. No Frenchman would understand a book
dealing with those things, so it is too much to expect an Englishman
to understand _Contemporary History_. The circumstances that led to
the writing of these books are simple enough. The Dreyfus case was
used as a platform for clerical, Royalist and militarist agitation.
The Government set to work to break the Church and broke it (after
which the Church mended itself and became stronger than ever); the
Nationalist revival took place, and since that time there has
been much manœuvring, some intended to restore the Bourbons and
quite ridiculous, some of it designed to gain well-paid posts for
reactionaries, and that one much in earnest. The interesting parts
of the four books are the commentaries of M. Bergeret, a university
professor in a little town, who, I need hardly say, is (just like
Sylvestre Bonnard, Coignard, Trublet, Brotteaux) Anatole France
himself. The four books, published between 1897 and 1901, more or
less cover that period. In _The Elm Tree on the Mall_ unfolds, with
local politics, the life of Bergeret, married to a shrew, unloved of
his daughters, disliked by most people because he thinks for himself,
which amounts to saying that he does not think like anybody else. Round
him eddy representative characters, the Abbé Guitrel, who wants to be
a bishop and is proceeding towards the episcopate half by apostolic
mansuetude, half by way of Ignatius of Loyola; Worms-Clavelin, the
_préfet_ (chief of the local executive), who is a Jew, a Freemason, a
Conservative Catholic, an advanced Republican, a Socialist, a Royalist
and a few other things necessary to the maintenance of his post; his
wife is friendly to Guitrel because the Abbé makes her feel French (she
was born Noemi Coblenz) and because she “likes to protect one of those
tonsured heads charged for eighteen centuries with the excommunication
and extermination of the circumcised.” There is General de Chalmot, a
soldier, who thinks that if you destroy belief you ruin the military
spirit, because you take away the hope of another life; there is
Paillot’s bookshop where Bergeret meets the county, the lawyers, the
doctors, to talk of books, politics, actresses and their figures....

Nothing in particular happens. Guitrel’s bishopric is the leading
string of the action; there is Madame Worms-Clavelin helping Guitrel,
who finds her, at bargain prices, chasubles with which she covers her
armchairs; there is a young girl, Claudine Deniseau, who, inspired by
St Radegunde, becomes a prophetess, indulges in healing, predicts
frost and the return of the king; there is Worms-Clavelin, trying to
keep the prophetess quiet, because so ancient a person as St Radegunde
ought really not to cause a row in a country town. An old lady of
eighty is murdered by her boy-lover, which causes Bergeret to remark
that murder is quite natural and fortunate, for without evil one
could not see beauty. Worms-Clavelin kisses Madame de Gromance on the
shoulder, (a local custom); a senator promotes shady companies while
his wife embroiders altar-cloths; and somehow the story ends with
Guitrel very much out of the running for the episcopal stakes.

What matters in the book is Bergeret, sitting under the elm-tree
on the Mall, or in the bookshop, thinking, talking, smiling at the
comedy. Notable are his talks with Lantaigne, another candidate for the
bishopric, and the type of the intellectual priest. Anatole France may
detest the Catholic attitude, but he understands it admirably, and
when Lantaigne contends that one can have two opinions, one conscious
and rationalistic, the other intuitive and theological, he makes a
very fine case. For him, in the case of Joshua, celestial astronomy
is not the astronomy of man, and in celestial mathematics, 3 + 3 may
make nine, because we do not know all the properties of numbers. At
other times Bergeret, who talks to anybody, tells the melancholic
story of Napoleon III., who never managed to grant his foster-brother
a small post in the civil service: “The Emperor was a charming fellow
but, alas, he had no influence.” And so the book wanders on with the
opinions of Bergeret, happy, like Æsop, in the freedom of his mind,
in spite of the narrowness of his home, conscious that the State is
honoured so long as it taxes the poor, and that the republic is easiest
to live under because it does not govern much, that revolutions help
none save the flourishing and the ambitious. It would all be profoundly
pessimistic if it were not always genial. One feels sure that if
Bergeret had an agreeable wife, a good cook, and a volume of Lucretius
(Oh, Omar!), he would let the State do just what it liked.

The story continues in _The Wickerwork Woman_, with Bergeret working up
his lecture in the worst room in his flat, where stands the wickerwork
figure used for dress-making, symbolic of his unpleasant wife. He
grumbles, and then considers the Romans. “They were not heroes, they
preferred making roads, they only made war for business reasons.” He
thinks of soldiers and wonders whether the sergeant has a right to tell
a conscript that his mother is a sow: he decides that the sergeant has
this right, for without it there can be no hierarchy or discipline.
Then the cook gives notice, and Guitrel goes to Paris while Bergeret
talks to a tramp who says that when he was young he lost his pride
because people made fun of him....

The town is greatly upset because the prophetess cannot give the
logarithm of nine. (Another case of celestial mathematics?) Madame
de Gromance passes, and Bergeret reflects that to see a pretty woman
is a stroke of luck for an honest man. He is “grateful to her for
dressing with art and discretion.” But tragedy invades the Bergeret
household, for Roux, a pupil, becomes the lover of Madame Bergeret ...
in circumstances which make it impossible for the professor to doubt
his eyes. After a murderous moment Bergeret decides that this is all
really very trifling, throws the wickerwork figure through the window,
and goes out to talk to Paillot, the bookseller; he reflects vaguely on
adultery and its meaninglessness. Guitrel and the archdeacon hold an
earnest discussion on omelettes. Inspired by Marcus Aurelius, Bergeret
concludes that the art of life is a benevolent contempt for man: all
Anatole France is there. For him those lovers were chimpanzees, and he
feels a little superior because he is “a meditative chimpanzee.”

The conversations continue to develop. Fremont, inspector of fine arts,
is “patriotic, even in art”; Worms-Clavelin states that he loathes the
Empire, but adds: “Still we make wine, grow corn, as under the emperor
... we work on the Stock Exchange, eat, drink, make love as under the
emperor.” The upshot is: “Don’t touch the machine, for it will be all
the same whatever you do.”

The execution of the murderer of the old lady enables Bergeret to state
his views, which are, as usual, exceedingly unpopular, for he will
not have it that the murderer was a degenerate: had not Mithridates a
double row of teeth? Nor shall tattooing prove the crime, for are not
fashionable travellers tattooed? And then he wanders off on the fiction
of the aristocratic type in woman, which is entirely derived from the
smart shopgirl and the plebeian actress. The shady senator is arrested,
but released, says his wife, owing to the intervention of the Almighty.
Meanwhile Bergeret refuses to speak to his unfaithful wife, which
causes great trouble in the house, because the cook, disliking the
goings-on, gives notice again; the new cook can make only one kind of
soup, which is very annoying. And so the book rambles on until Madame
Bergeret, unable to bear dumb disdain, leaves with her two daughters.

Before leaving she has disgraced herself again with Lacarelle, “the
Gaul,” who only made love to her because his moustache was so long that
this was expected of him. The Dreyfus case is beginning to bubble, and
Guitrel, friendly to the _préfet_, finds it difficult to defend the
Jews, except “the converted ones who have done a lot for the Church by
their wealth.” Long story of Saint Austregisile, and of the Virgin’s
miraculous foot. Honorine, the visionary, has a miraculous trance, and
then retires into a bush to make love to a tramp. Fat and beautiful
Madame de Bonmont entertains Guitrel. History of the rise of this
county family, late Nathan, and of Madame de Bonmont’s love-making with
Raoul, duellist and gambler, illustrious because he fought a Jew who
had in a café asked for the Army List and thereby outraged the French
flag. As the agitation progresses, the loyal populace sacks the shop of
Meyer, the bootmaker, and retires, having struck a good blow for their
country. In these days Bergeret is happy, talking to Riquet, his dog,
“a religious beast,” thinking and talking of Hercules, whom he looks
upon as a sort of boxer at a fair, and of the history of Spain....

Little boys pass, shouting: “Down with Zola!...”

Bergeret is a Dreyfusist. It does not make him any more popular than
he became when he said that Joan of Arc was only a military mascot.
Bergeret wistfully begins to desire Madame de Gromance, but knows
that he has no chance; so he returns to his thoughts and to the
all-pervading Dreyfus case, realising that the crowd cannot reason,
that “it holds with established error.” Young de Bonmont meanwhile
sends his beautiful mother to see a most glad-eyed Cabinet minister
who has power to make Guitrel a bishop, because if Guitrel is made a
bishop he can induce the local duke to invite young de Bonmont to the
hunt. One is sorry for Madame de Bonmont, so fat and so innocent, but
one does not feel sorry when young Dellion, who is for the time being
favoured of Madame de Gromance, enlists her influence on the side of
Guitrel, and while she is putting on her stays discusses the future
of the bishopric. The talk veers to fashions, and while she attaches
her suspenders Madame de Gromance argues whether his mother, Madame
Dellion, was truly virtuous. Meanwhile Madame Worms-Clavelin, also
supporting Guitrel, makes--well, let us say, great concessions to the
secretary of the Cabinet minister, in the cause of chasubles at bargain
prices and of good government....

Bergeret continues to attack most things: antisemitism, because he is
not big enough to hate ninety thousand people; nationality, because
there is no such thing, for the alleged French are only Gauls,
Iberians, Celts, Romans, Franks and Saracens. Guitrel, made a bishop,
is broken for attacking the Government, while poor Madame de Bonmont
leaves her amethyst ring on Raoul’s bedroom mantelpiece.

In the last volume, Bergeret, now a professor in Paris, reflects on
the quality of meat, the soul of dogs, and the essence of heroism.
Panneton de la Barge delivers a passionate speech on the army which is
“the consolation of the present and the hope of the future,” and ends
by enlisting Bergeret’s influence to get his son out of two years’
military service. Madame de Bonmont has now fallen into the arms of
Lacrisse, secretary of the Royalist group, for she wishes to save
France. Lacrisse’s chief occupation is to coach generals in evidence to
be used at the Dreyfus trial. Conspiracy. A letter from the Pretender;
great sensation which leads to the conquest of Lacrisse, for Madame de
Bonmont gives him “a historic embrace.” He then compels her reluctantly
to subscribe to the funds. Royalist fête. And Panneton begins to cook
the local elections with the help of Madame de Gromance: he finds that
the one place where they can talk politics is a flat furnished with a
graduated series of sofas.

Meanwhile Bergeret indulges in charity to a beggar called Clopinel, and
then remarks: “I have done wrong, I have given alms ... I have tasted
the shameful joy of abasing my fellow-man, I have signed the odious
pact which preserves strength for the strong, weakness for the weak.
I have sold to my brother fraternity at short weight.... I have been
tempted. Oh, seducer! Oh dangerous Clopinel! Delicious Clopinel....”

Slump in Royalist plots, arrests. Lacrisse stands for the town
council as a republican Liberal, with the help of Father Adéodat,
who will let him be a republican in public if only he will be a true
man in committee. And the Contemporary History ends at a Royalist
dinner-party, on memories of a riot, the triumph of Mr Loubet, who
triumphed just because he happened to be there; this is the downfall
of reactionary and clerical hopes, but Madame de Gromance gives up to
Dellion her hospitable heart....

It all sounds rather cruel, and there are touches, such as Lacrisse
coaching Generals in the evidence they will deliver against Dreyfus,
such as the description of M. de la Barge trying to get his son out of
military service after proclaiming that the army is the ideal of his
soul, which provoke in the reader just what Anatole France wants: not
laughter, but an ironic, lingering, vinegary smile. Time after time,
in every one of his books he obtains this effect; it is the effect of
sharp contrast, of suddenness; it recalls a page of Machiavelli who,
after describing how an Italian tyrant had one of his ministers sawn
in half, alive, in the market-place, goes on: “But to return to more
important things....”

That produces a shock, and when applied to irony this is an effect
still more powerful than when it is applied to fiction, as, for
instance, in Ambrose Bierce’s _An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge_. But
the irony is not artificial: it is the sort of irony given to those
who walk the world with their eyes open. It inspires the feeling of
amusement which invaded a few of us during the great European War,
when we read in the newspapers articles about Russian culture, and
remembered what the same newspapers used to say about the Bear. I could
not help smiling at our attitude to the sausage-eaters when recalling
how completely we had forgotten the frog-eaters and candle-eaters of
times gone by. Very likely, though the war roused him to action in
defence of ancient French culture, Anatole France chuckled over the
intimate friendship between France and England, which, in 1898, at the
time of Fashoda, and in 1899, at the time of the Boer War, was such an
intimate hatred. He would have chuckled still more had he known that a
patriotic English inn-keeper had changed the name of his tavern from
“The King of Prussia” to “The Czar’s Head.” For history has staying
power, and one wonders a little whether, as generations pass, “The
Czar’s Head” may not have to turn into “The Roosevelt Arms,” “The
Garibaldi,” or perhaps one day into “The Chung Ling Soo....”

But ironic as it all is, it is very living. This should strike
nobody as extraordinary, for life is most ironic: it would be
quite intolerable to some of us if it were not. But this is worth
saying because a great many other satirists--Swift, Rabelais,
Cervantes--obtain most of their effects by distortion. Anatole France
obtains his by bringing out the essential incongruity of life:
funerals passing under the windows of the Ritz where there is a smart
luncheon-party, sermons bidding us love our enemies while newsboys
shout casualty lists; life is full of it. That is why the archdeacon
and another cleric hold, in the midst of a theological crisis, that
earnest argument about omelettes. Life and people are like that,
and there is nothing at all distorted in the diplomatic, furry,
soft-spoken priests who ... well, let us say, do not discourage their
fair penitents from committing adultery with powerful republicans,
provided this serves a good cause. After all Judith ... and Jael, and
all that. And it does not seem monstrous that the new bishop should be
selected while Madame de Gromance does up her suspenders, for it is
quite conceivable that lovers should now and then, at intervals, talk

And he is fair. He is not fair like Byron, who hated most people and
disliked the others, but because he can see oddity and occasionally
beastliness in the people of whom he approves. He is for the Jews in
this Dreyfus quarrel, but that does not make him anti-Christian; he
is as impartial in his attacks as a mosquito. Indeed a great many
Jews wish they had been saved from their friend, for pictures such as
that of Madame Worms-Clavelin and her husband, of Madame de Bonmont,
that most Christian of Jewesses, anxious to forget the tent of hides,
remembering in the most sacred (and even most amorous) moments that
there is such a thing as a Stock Exchange, are not always kind.

But, kind or unkind, the satire is never laid on thickly. Not once does
Anatole France suggest that Mademoiselle Deniseau is a sham prophetess:
no, that would be clumsy; she merely cannot give the logarithm of

In those four books modern French society stands forth quite stark,
with a rather decayed charm, a naïveté born from an excess of
complexity. Anatole France strips it of all its gewgaws, patriotism,
faith, morality: of all its little affectations; ... and then,
having exposed it, he consents to love it because his satire rests
on his philosophy. That philosophy, with which I deal further on, is
enunciated in every volume by the nice old gentlemen who embody him,
Bonnard, Bergeret and the others: irony and pity; despise man but
love him, see his weakness and yet hope; he may not be immortal, yet
he is eternal, indestructible as all matter; and though he be no more
than a mite in cheese yet he is the expression of life, the soul of
beauty, the one thing in the world which is holy. For Anatole France
is sweet and pitiful. All through his work we feel that, and in none
so much as in a little story, _Crainquebille_. This is the simple tale
of an old hawker who was run in for not moving on, just because he was
waiting for sixpence owed to him for vegetables. The policeman trumped
up against him a charge of having shouted “Down with the Peelers!”
When he comes out of gaol Crainquebille is ostracised; that makes him
quarrelsome; then, having no friends, he drinks; becoming drunken, he
loses his customers and sinks deeper and deeper into poverty. And the
terrible indictment of the law that makes criminals by listening to the
strong and flouting the poor, ends on the picture of old Crainquebille,
forlorn, degraded and starving, going up to a policeman and shouting:
“Down with the Peelers!” so as to get a night’s lodging in the cells.
But, irony of ironies, this policeman shrugs his shoulders, and walks

It would not be right to end this chapter without saying a few words
about Anatole France in his more literal rôle of critic. He has done
an immense amount of literary criticism in _Le Temps_ and in scattered
articles, most of which have been collected in the four volumes of _On
Life and Letters_ and in _Le Génie Latin_. He is sympathetic and kindly
in the extreme when dealing with the work of young men, particularly
if they are scholars, if they are interested in the things he loves,
mediævalism, sculpture, history, etc., and he will forgive a great deal
to good intentions, but when he does not like a book Anatole France is
a terrible reviewer, so terrible a reviewer that I trust this little
monograph will not fall into his hands. Ignoring then the gentler side
of him, I will reproduce two extracts from his criticisms. The first
is from a review of Georges Ohnet’s book, entitled _Will_. Mr Georges
Ohnet, as I suppose everybody knows, has for a long time enjoyed great
vogue in France for, have no illusions about it, the French are no more
literary than we are and have a passion for stories of moated granges,
immaculate officers (comparatively chaste), remorseful women who
sacrifice their beauty for the ideal, and all that sort of thing; with
a little arrangement, the sentimental-heroic novels of Mrs Barclay, and
the sentimental-religious novels of Mr Hall Caine would have in France
a good circulation. In fact, the sensuous religiosity of Mr Hall Caine
enjoys in France quite adequate popularity. And here is what Anatole
France says of this kind of novel, _Will_, as published by Mr Georges

  “The title is a whole philosophy. _Will_, that is what speaks to
  the heart and mind. _Will_ by Georges Ohnet! How one feels the
  man of principle who has never doubted! _Will_ by Georges Ohnet,
  73rd edition! What a proof of the power of the will! Locke did
  not believe that the world was free. But his _Essay on the Human
  Understanding_ did not reach seventy-three editions in a single
  morning. Here we have Locke victoriously refuted! The will is not
  an illusion, for Mr Georges Ohnet has willed to have seventy-three
  editions, and he has achieved them.”

Anatole France, after this amiable beginning, remarks that Mr Georges
Ohnet’s notions are displeasing, that his style is ungraceful; he
quotes him, and the result is quite ghastly. And he ends on words which
rescue the reader from doubt:

  “There is not a page, not a line, not a word, not a syllable of
  that book which has not shocked, saddened, and offended me. I was
  disposed to weep over it with all the muses for company.”

Another review, that of Zola’s book, _The Dream_, I cannot resist
mentioning. The book is not very well known in England, which is a
pity, as it might please the worshippers of the latter-day Swan of
Avon. It is pure. Anatole France is aware of that, for he wickedly
heads his review: “Mr Zola’s Purity.” As it certainly was not Zola’s
habit to be pure, surprise at the accident was legitimate. And so
Anatole France writes:

  “If in order to be poetic, graceful, and touching, it were enough
  to resolve, Mr Zola would certainly be at the present moment
  the most graceful, the most poetic, the most winged, and the
  most uplifted among novelists ... he espouses chastity and thus
  affords us the most edifying example. One can only regret that he
  celebrates this mystic alliance with too much noise and uproar....”

Anatole France analyses the tale of the beautiful heroine, in her
saintly cathedral town, and adds: “Zinc factories and flat irons
occupy too much space in Mr Zola’s soul.” He then convicts Zola of
gross ignorance of the period he describes, remarks casually: “Saint
Joseph’s lily becomes in his hand an instrument for advertisement,”
and, alluding to his previous works, sums up: “I prefer Mr Zola on all
fours to Mr Zola winged.”



Like many agnostics, Anatole France is more interested in religion than
is many a believer. Like those old encyclopædists of the eighteenth
century, he is always crushing the infamous one, which the faithful
generally support because assured that the so-called infamous one
cannot be crushed. And that infamous one is not only the Catholic
religion but religion itself. I do not want to raise an argument as to
what is religion: in the sense in which Anatole France attacks it it is
a precise faith in some creative and conscious spirit which manifests
itself, not only in this world, but in some conceptive other world.
Of that Anatole France will hear nothing. He can do without it; he is
strong enough to stand alone, and to meet death “as one about to seek
a great perhaps.” He needs no prop, and he would smile at a letter I
received a little while ago from a devout Catholic who urged me to draw
on “the strength and consolation which streamed from that little hill
near Jerusalem, two thousand years ago, and now flows from the slope
that rises by the side of the yellow waters of the Tiber.” Anatole
France sees the poetry of this conception, but though he sees the idea
as poetic he does not see the statement as true. For him religion or
faith is cowardice; it is the cry of man who dares not die, and in
every one of his books he has used the most cunning methods to express
his feeling.

One of the most notable ways has been to express the ideas of men
through the mouth of Riquet, the dog.[3] For the dog, as Anatole France
said in another place, is a religious beast, and here are some of the
thoughts which pass through its brain:

  “My master warms me when I lie behind him in his armchair; that is
  because he is a god.” (“The Lord will provide.”) “In my master’s
  voice are many vain sounds. It is difficult and necessary to define
  the thought of the master.” (Catholic exegesis of the Bible.) “I
  love my master, Bergeret, because he is terrible and powerful.”
  (Jewish worship of Jehovah.) And the little black dog prays:

  “Oh, my master, Bergeret, God of Slaughter, I worship thee! Hail,
  oh God of wrath! Hail, oh bountiful God! I lie at thy feet, I lick
  thy hand. Thou art great and beautiful when at the laden board thou
  devourest abundant meats. Thou art great and beautiful when, from a
  thin strip of wood causing flame to spring, thou dost of night make

    [3] In _Monsieur Bergeret à Paris_, and in the story entitled

Here indeed in the old professor who can whip Riquet is the God of
Sabaoth, the God of Battles; in the professor with the carving knife is
He who multiplied the fishes and the loaves. And I need not labour that
when Bergeret strikes a match it is very wonderful: so was Genesis and
the making of the sun....

For his aggressive, childish superstitions, for his puerile desire
to find an unnatural explanation to what he does not understand,
Anatole France might despise man, yet he loves him. He finds charm
in hierophantic absurdity; he feels the poetry of the little hill.
And he goes further: he feels the poetry even of the Middle Ages,
though it was a period of bestial and ungraceful ignorance, raping
knights, robber troubadours and fine ladies who never changed their
underclothing; he loves historic truth as well as the highfalutin
nonsense of Amadis of Gaul. For Amadis has a picaresque air. In his
book, _The Well of St Clare_ notably, are several stories supposed to
be told by a Siennese priest. There is that of Saint Satyr, out of
whose tomb came a multitude of mists, each one of which was a woman.
They floated in the darkling air; through their light tunics shone
their light bodies. The clerics had hunted them into the tomb of the
saint who was accepted of God the Christ, because the goat worshipped
in his own fashion. (Anatole France hints that all religions have
the same root and that one worshipper is as good as another; he has
written another story on these lines, _Amycus and Célestin_.) The
tomb is opened and the heart of the priest who saw the vision is in
most mediæval style torn out by the ghosts of hags. In another story,
_The Security_, the Virgin stands bail for a year for a debt, and
leads the merchant’s barque back in time to redeem her, because he
believed in her; there are other queer stories, such as _The Lady
of Verona_, who so loved her body that she begged Satan to save it;
such as _The Mystery of the Blood_, where a saint cheers a criminal
whose blood falls upon her gown. She says: “Take not from me my purple
and my perfumes.” In all these stories he shows how charmed he is by
this childish mediævalism. And yet he does not espouse it, for in the
_Opinions of Jérome Coignard_ he says: “All those stories of Satanic
fornication are disgusting dreams, and it is a shame that Jesuits and
Dominicans should have made them up into treatises.”

His theology is usually intermingled with his philosophy. In the story
called _Komm l’Atrébate_ (in _Clio_) the warrior believes that the
same moon does not shine over Rome and over Gaul, because Rome is so
far away; in _La Muiron_ (in _Clio_) Buonaparte expounds his theory of
government by faith: “The right to deny God is granted to a learned man
shut up in his study, not to a leader of peoples whose power over the
vulgar rests upon his community with their ideas. To govern men one
must think like them on all great questions and allow oneself to be
carried by public opinion.”

Anatole France wishes to govern no man, and to be governed of no
man. He is the most anarchistic of Socialists. And how could he feel
otherwise if indeed he be Coignard, who “despised man tenderly,” who
thought that “on earth one cannot help sinning”? The Abbé Coignard,
in 1893, was full of cynical contempt for democracy, of disbelief in
the importance of forms of government, and in the value of change; yet
Coignard hated prisons and armies; he thought all war hateful, except
civil war; for him glory, nobility, honour were words; glory, notably,
was accident; modesty was Calvinism; he thought that there was a pure
and an impure, but heaven alone knew which was which.... All that is
the Francian philosophy mixed in with the Francian religion: doubts and

But now and then, when he is annoyed by the externals of Christianity,
Anatole France becomes more militant. He has written (in _Mother of
Pearl_) a story entitled _The Procurator of Judæa_, which ranks with
the finest of de Maupassant’s, and is deeper in intention than anything
de Maupassant ever wrote. A generation after the Crucifixion, Pilate,
then talking the waters for gout in Northern Italy, meets an old
friend who was once at Jerusalem. They talk of horses, of the policy
of Vitellius, of the waters, of the things that would interest Roman
gentlemen, and, little by little, they come to talk of those silly,
noisy, obstinate Jews who used to raise such wrangles and such schisms
in Jerusalem. And they talk of Mary Magdalene, in her pre-scriptural
days: “By the light of a smoky little lamp, on a wretched carpet she
danced, raising her arms to strike the cymbals. Her back arched, her
head thrown back, as if drawn down by the heavy weight of her ruddy
hair, her eyes drowned in lust, ardent and languishing, she would
have caused Cleopatra herself to blush for envy....” They sigh, for
Magdalene was very beautiful and seductive (in her pre-scriptural
days). Then the friend recalls that she followed “a young Galilean
thaumaturge who was crucified,” says the friend, “for I don’t know
what crime.” Pontius Pilate thinks for a long time; crucifixion was
so commonplace in those days. After a while he says: “Jesus? Jesus of
Nazareth? No, I don’t remember him.”

I know that many who read this will charge Anatole France with
blasphemy. Well, blasphemy has its uses: it parts the sheep from the
goats; it impresses the waverers and drives such of them as are weak of
faith into agnosticism, while it shocks the faithful and strengthens
their militancy. The blasphemer may render a service to the faith.
Blasphemy need not be ignorant; indeed, true blasphemy is possible only
in the enlightened: the unenlightened find it easier to believe; it
is so difficult to believe when one does not know. Now Anatole France
does not know, and he is, so far as that goes, in the position of St
Francis, but where he differs from St Francis is that he does not
believe that which he does not know. (I am assuming that St Francis did
believe, that he did more than want to believe.) For Anatole France
understands perfectly well the Catholic attitude and its Christian
variations; he has a full understanding of it, its simplicity, gaiety,
charm, of its tender humanity, of the beautiful Catholic sympathy
with the weakness of man, with the feeble hands that cannot seize more
than the hem of the seamless garment. He loves this Catholicism which
he detests because, after all, while spreading among the people brute
ignorance, infamous asceticism, prejudices and an intolerance resulting
in a cruelty foreign to the tiger, it somehow, through the Dark Ages,
kept burning the flame of the arts. The Catholicism of Anatole France
is that of Cimabue, of Raphael, of Marot, of Shakespeare (no Protestant
he), the Catholicism of those friars who pored over Greek texts, of
those inspired workmen who painted stained glass, of the fine ladies
with the pearl-braided hair who, with hands delicate as sprays of fern,
embroidered chasubles, and, all of them, interposed a bulwark between
the culture of man and the stinking men-at-arms. That Catholicism is
the Catholicism of song and dance, the Catholicism of the juggler
and the troubadour, not only the Catholicism of the stake but the
Catholicism of Merrie England before Calvin came to blow a black
breath upon a world not yet made grey by the Galilean.[4]

    [4] Anatole France would hate our Puritan practices, such as
        the prohibition of billiards in hotels and of cricket in
        the parks on Sunday.

It might be concluded that Anatole France is an atheist, but that is
not correct; he has said too definitely that though man may not be
immortal, he is eternal. He merely does not know whence we came nor
whither we go, nor I think does he care much; he is merely a member of
the band, Voltaire, Renan, Huxley, Spencer, Darwin, Haeckel (doubtful
that one), who were not willing to believe without understanding,
and yet agreed that there might be something in which to believe if
one could understand it. Briefly, he is an agnostic. He refuses to
make the slightly self-conscious effort which certain literary men,
in England and in France, successfully make to accept the spiritual
origin of miracles and such like matters. What is, is, and what may be,
may be: that is enough. But his theology is so intermingled with his
human interests that at bottom he is a pagan; he loves beauty so well
that he discovers it even in faith, and it is evident that he would
have found much pleasure in the rites of the ancient Greeks. In his
celebrated novel, _Thais_, he hails pagan beauty as he holds up for our
contemptuous sympathy the sorrow of Paphnutius, the monk of Arsinoe.
The monk set forth to redeem Thais, the courtesan; for her beauty and
her soul he abandoned his cell and his hair shirt. She was unhappy
and superstitious, and she feared the life to come; at his behest she
turned to the Christian God. But Paphnutius burned himself with the
torch he had lit; Thais assailed him in dream, and though he strove to
fight his passion by solitude, by fasting, by becoming a stylite, he
failed. In dream he dishonoured his soul, and at last, surrendering, he
rushed to Thais, but found her dying and become a saint; doubt, fear
and despair had compassed his downfall, and it was too late to love:
he could be naught save a vampire.

The story is one of violent pageantry, of Alexandria crimson, purple
and gold, of Alexandria dancing on the rosy wharves where great ships
with brown sails unloaded silks and spices, Alexandria offering up
to the old gods, Hermes of the secret smile and Aphrodite of the
cup-like breasts, not the smoking holocausts of Jehovah, but honey
and garlands of flowers.... And on the other side, quite near the
sceptical, cynical, gay, intellectual Greeks, who for a pastime and
as in a Chelsea drawing-room discussed man and God, the horrid state
of the Christian anchorites, self-starved, self-flogged, verminous,
sour, contemptuous of the beauty of the body, of learning. There is a
bitter irony in the efforts of Paphnutius, the stylite, for as he sits
upon his column as far as he can from man and as near as possible to
God, his reputation as a saint waxes; round him there grows a town,
Stylopolis, an ancestor of Lourdes; first of all come shrines and
convents, then traders, then a government, then banks, theatres ... the
rich, the sons of the rich ... courtesans. He does not hate Paphnutius
nor love him, for the monk was unfortunate, not guilty; gladly would
he have torn out his heart and burnt it as an offering to God the
Christ. His was a white, burning soul, but he had beyond a soul a body
needing lightness, satisfaction. His flesh was weak, and it is pitiful
rather than rejoicing that Anatole France sorrows for his error, when
the monk sees Lucifer as “the serpent with golden wings which twisted
round the tree of knowledge its azure coils formed of light and love,”
when he sees Jehovah, the brutish tyrant, the power of ignorance and
superstition, the power of darkness, Jehovah, understanding nothing,
a mere dream. It is a terrible day for Paphnutius when he understands
that “the Serpent began to speak to Adam and Eve and to teach them the
highest truths, those which do not demonstrate themselves.”

All this feeling is in _The Revolt of the Angels_, the most remarkable
of Anatole France’s theological books, as _Penguin Island_ is his
principal political book. It is an amusing story, this idea that the
angels, as knowledge and thought spread among them, should one by one
desert the heavenly choir, come to earth to live among men, to love
them, and attempt to overthrow Him who has stood in the way of every
science and of every art. The book is brilliant because it so casually
intermingles the actual with the fantastic. The angels who descend to
earth and turn into men become music masters (obviously), conspirators,
commercial travellers, and here below prepare the spiritual revolution.
The career of the principal angel, Arcade, is exceedingly amusing, for
he ravages by night the theological libraries, being bent on gaining
an education which was not given him in Paradise. And there is a fair
amount of the most incongruous, but almost engaging, indecency. It
would be too much to describe the incident exactly here, but I think I
may say that Arcade, who is the guardian angel of a young man called
Maurice, appears in the latter’s bedroom at a moment ... well, at an
inopportune moment. And when at last he has convinced Maurice that he
really is an angel, Maurice says something which could be said only
by a Parisian: “You may be an angel, but you are not a man of the
world.” He is wrong, for a little later Arcade, in the very same room,
demonstrates to the lady whose reputation he compromised by his sudden
materialisation, that angels are close relatives of men.

But apart from scenes where angels button up the boots of ladies,
which is very clever of them, considering how little practice they
can have had, there is in the book to a much greater extent than in
_Thais_ a passionate plea for the intellectual side of paganism, the
one embodying all that is young and all that is enlightened, embodying
the joys which the god of the Jews endeavoured to drive out of the
domain of man. And there is more than one picture of Satan as the
god of grace (presumably precipitated into hell on account of his
advanced ideas), of Satan loving man. There is picture after picture
of the Son of the Morning who once was Pan. In the end the angels do
not revolt, for Satan in his dream realises that if he overthrows God
and establishes himself as another god, he will only become as his
predecessor, harsh, dogmatic, intolerant, greedy of praise, hostile to
anything which might rear up in the mind of the people the idea of a
new god. Satan will not reign, and he sums up: “What matters if man is
no longer subject to Ialdabaoth, if the spirit of Ialdabaoth is still
in them? if like him they are jealous, violent, quarrelsome, greedy,
inimical to the arts and to beauty? what matters if they have rejected
the ferocious demon if they listen not to the friendly demons who teach
all truths, to Dionysus, Apollo and the muses? As for us, celestial
spirits, sublime demons, we have destroyed Ialdabaoth, our tyrant, if
we have destroyed in ourselves ignorance and fear.”



Though deeply interested in the past, Anatole France has written
singularly little pure history. His vision being universal, most of his
critical work is informed with historic feeling, but in spite of his
love of ancient chronicles, in spite of knowledge which might shame the
College of Heralds and the Record Office put together, he has preferred
to use history as raw material for romance. He has been right, in a
way, for most historians have used romance as the raw material of
history and made of it, with a few exceptions, such as Green, Gibbon,
Michelet, Mommsen, an unreadable, unfinished product. Anatole France
knows that, and possibly he has hesitated to write history because he
had not the details he needed to write it as he wished; those details
were the history of the people, the real history, the ploughman’s
menu, and what the merchant said to his wife about Mr Pitt before
they fell asleep; battles and dates make him smile. He expresses this
very well in the preface to _The Life of Joan of Arc_. “To discern
the future one must consider not the enterprises of the great but the
confused movements of the labouring masses.”

Once only has he written an actual historic work, and that is his
monumental study of Joan of Arc. It has made him more unpopular than
all his works put together, from which it is easy to conclude that it
is a work of worth and nobility. It is an enormous, encyclopædic study
showing that he has consulted every possible source of information:
archives, chronicles, diaries, private letters and reports of the
merest tittle tattle; he knows almost too much about the Maid of
Orleans, and this makes it difficult to read the work. But the one
who perseveres will be richly rewarded, for Anatole France sheds some
new light upon the _chevalière_. It is the preface and the addendum
have made him hated by the clericals, for he impugns the chronicles
as mostly having been written by chroniclers paid by the knights;
pitilessly he shows up their discrepancies, their omissions, he
depicts Joan of Arc as a hallucinated, hysterical girl, subject to
visions which in those days afflicted many a girl on the threshold
of womanhood. For him her sight, smell, hearing, sense of contact,
all were decayed, and he inclines to think that she was influenced by
priests favourable to the cause of Charles VII. Those priests were
politicians and, knowing her simplicity, led her and used her. They
had no difficulty in this, for the people were ignorant and believed
because they wanted to believe. As he himself says: “Belief in her
sanctity was as hypnotic as would be to-day a belief in aeroplanes.”
It is not wonderful that, assuming an attitude such as this towards
one whom M. Bergeret called a military mascot, Anatole France should
have been violently attacked by the reactionaries; that was a little
unfair, for all through the book Anatole France recognises the
simplicity, the purity, the courage and the true enthusiasm of Joan,
but he will not grant her divine inspiration. That is unpardonable in
the eyes of the reactionaries, who forget that it took the popes over
four hundred and fifty years to canonise her; they want to use Joan
of Arc in the cause of the Church and the King, and it does not do at
all to have that touching conviction disturbed: it was not the Kaiser
invented the alliance of Meinself (und Gott).

Animosity has not disturbed Anatole France, for “one conquers the earth
only by ploughing it.” He has told the story simply, without heroics,
painted a poetic picture of Joan growing up “on bitter soil among
rough and sober folk, fed on rosy wine and brown bread, hardened by a
hard life”; she had knowledge of tree-worship, and hung garlands on
the boughs as does to-day Russian youth on the birch-tree; she was a
pagan and grew up among private wars, fire, blood and murder. It is all
extraordinarily living, for Anatole France speaks familiarly, using the
names of local tradesmen, peasants and lawyers. And so the story goes
on on the well-known lines, continually critical, for Joan reveals the
clerical influence by using terms known only to ecclesiastics[5]; she
uses sometimes peasant language, sometimes rhetoric, as if she had a
double personality; she is fierce, obstinate, firm, as if hypnotised;
she impresses the crowd by refusing Charles the name of King until
she herself has led him to Reims. Anatole France is fair even to the
English, who were cruel only because they were afraid of her as “a
superhuman, terrible, frightful creature, a demon from hell before
whom the bravest quailed.” Anatole France criticises Joan also as a
strategist, in which rôle, it seems, she was most incompetent; but
faith may inflame where strategy fails. Her strength came evidently
from her inflated view of her mission, so common in lunatic asylums,
for she went so far as to dream of a crusade against the Turks and the

    [5] Miracle?

All this is implied, not stated; Anatole France advances few opinions,
digresses not often; he tells the story simply and allows us to draw
our own conclusions. Apart from the historical references, the book is
as simple as Renan’s _Life of Jesus_, and as damaging. Anatole France
is happiest when painting pictures of the enthusiastic mobs, swearing
the oaths of men-at-arms and singing songs with the ribald women,
painting pictures of the towns in the wars of the Middle Ages. At
times, however, he cannot restrain himself, must discuss a side issue
that interests him, such as the worship of virtue and of virgins. Then
his charm grows Virgilian: “In this land of Gaul the white priestesses
of the forests had left some memory of their holy beauty; and sometimes
one saw, fleeting in the Isle of Sein, along the misty shores of the
sea, the pale shadow of the nine sisters who, in bygone days, at will
laid or awoke the storm.”

It is not a disrespectful, but a critical book, and I suppose it is
true enough that the inspiration of Joan merely served to bring luck
to the French troops, was indeed a military mascot. To claim more is
to claim a little too much, for did not, during the European War,
Englishmen, Frenchmen, Russians, Germans all invoke the Almighty and
make quite sure that He was on their side? Yet everybody cannot win;
the Christian God is no Janus.

Far more interesting for ordinary reading is his pseudo-novel, _The
Gods are Athirst_. In that book he tells the story of a Jacobin,
Gamelin, living through the Revolution of 1789, active terrorist, ready
to sacrifice sister, mother, sweetheart, upon the altar of liberty,
hard, narrow in the forehead, obsessed. Anatole France leads us through
sumptuous scenes, the murder of Marat, the death of Robespierre,
while Gamelin every day grows more bloodthirsty, more pitiless. The
creature is marvellously living, for in his madness and his blood-lust
he responds to all the affectations of revolutionary days, the
personal oppositions between the red hands and the white hands, to the
ridiculous imitation of Roman citizenship which led to men calling
themselves Brutus or Cicero. Yet the ridiculous is not without its
nobility, for Gamelin falls at last a victim to the guillotine, and
then says, splendidly: “I die justly. It is well that we should bear
those insults levelled at the republic against which we should have
protected it. We were weak, we have been guilty of indulgence. We have
betrayed the republic.... Robespierre himself, pure and saintly, sinned
by gentleness, by pity ... I have spared blood, let my blood flow.”
That is not so extraordinary as it seems, for Gamelin, the executioner,
believes in virtue, in a high ideal and, as everybody should know,
there is no creature in the world so brutal and so venomous as one who
is working for the good of mankind.

The virtue of the book is not in the history, but in Anatole France’s
acute consciousness of the things that happen while history is being
made. There are picnics, talks about art; there is a sentimental
amourette between Brotteaux, the old aristocrat, and a sweet
courtesan; there is an old priest who does not mind having his head
cut off, but does object in court to being called a Capuchin when
he really is a Barnabite. It is all deeply human, and one scene at
least is unforgettable, a love scene. (Of course ... those are mostly
unforgettable.) It is not the recurrent scene between Gamelin and his
mistress who, by the way, and it is a charming irony, invites his rival
to her bedroom on the day of Gamelin’s execution in exactly the words
she used to Gamelin himself; it is a scene on the day when Charlotte
Corday murdered Marat. There is a great crowd and Gamelin, in the
press, meets his friend Desmahis. He tries to detain him to talk about
Marat, but Desmahis is almost in tears; he curses the crowd, he was
following a fair-haired girl, a shopgirl, a divine girl, and the crowd
has parted them. “But Marat ...” says Gamelin. “Marat, Marat!” growls
Desmahis. “That’s all very well, but I’ve lost my fair-haired girl.”

It is hard to realise that men follow shopgirls while empires fall, but
it is most likely, and I suspect that Anatole France thinks it more

As it is the fate of Anatole France to be unpopular whatever he does,
it is not surprising that _The Gods are Athirst_ should have annoyed
the advanced people as much as _The Life of Joan of Arc_ did the
reactionaries. That is because he loves truth and is one of the few
people in the world who realise that truth is neither blue nor buff. He
has been charged with having fouled the noblest work of man; that is
untrue, only he is determined not to be taken in and will not see the
Red Virgin as spotless. Great things can be done by little men, done
clumsily, cruelly, and yet somehow done. That is more or less what
Anatole France shows in this book; the verdict of the people is not for
him the voice of God, but this does not imply that the voice of the
aristocrat is any more divine. He cannot help seeing that the democracy
is ignorant, prejudiced, greedy, coarse-minded, and yet at the same
time he finds in it the seeds of generosity and of that justice so much
more costly than the mercy now and then vouchsafed with a fine gesture
by those who dominate man. Irony and pity, pity and hope, it is always
the same gospel.

In _The Gods are Athirst_ Anatole France seemed to have receded from
the pronounced socialism which colours his views. That is all on the
surface, and in _The Revolt of the Angels_, published a year later,
it was obvious that he had denied none of his views; only, and it
is so difficult to make people understand this, Anatole France is a
Socialist and he is also sane. He will not have it that a Socialist
is necessarily a saint; that the democracy is immaculate; and it
is because he finds the human being behind the tribune, while the
followers of the tribune insist upon seeing him as a sort of historical
hero, a county Achilles, that in their quite honest stupidity they
are annoyed. If Anatole France had been born in England and entered
politics there, his influence would not have been large, because, in
this country, what we like is a good, stodgy, immovable view; if at the
age of twenty you believed in Mr Gladstone, at the age of sixty you
have to believe in Mr Asquith, and there you are. Doggedness, never
say die, the bulldog breed, all that sort of stuff. The idea is that
one should run one’s head against a brick wall in the hope of knocking
it over: one does sometimes, if one’s head is hard enough, but that
successful kind of head does not readily admit a new idea. Being a
Frenchman, Anatole France has been more fortunate; he is not a bit more
original than Mr. Shaw, though infinitely more _sympatique_, for his
smile is honeyed, not vinegary; still, if Mr Shaw had been a Frenchman
his countrymen would have taken him seriously. And we, too, perhaps,
once he was translated.

Anatole France came into the open in the course of the Dreyfus
case, and since that time he has never ceased to interest himself
actively instead of philosophically in everything that was unhappy
and oppressed--workers, natives, generally speaking the underdogs.
His little book, _The Church and the Republic_, published in 1905, in
which he demolishes the case for the absolute freedom of the Catholic
Church, because there is not absolute freedom, but only so much as does
not clash with other freedoms, had an immense success and powerfully
assisted M. Combes in his campaign for Disestablishment. Anatole
France, heir of Voltaire and Renan, has always seen the Church, a
survival full of charm and grace, as the enemy of the people. Had it
not been for the hierarchy, I do not believe he would have attacked
the faith: religion would have made a pretty toy for the child that
calls itself man. But religion allied with ministers and financiers,
sabre-rattlers, religion _à la_ Kaiser, he has sworn to root out. He
wants to do this because he has a vision of a humanity to come when
none shall suffer at the hands of the State, when one sex will not
crush and the other deceive, when black faces may smile on white. He
has expounded his creed in many political speeches, though he is not a
good speaker; he has come before his audience with his long, whimsical,
Pan-like face and his sorrowful eyes, flicking them with irony and yet
touching their hearts, asking always for justice and yet for sanity.
His speeches are like his writings, except that he has a Latin fondness
for the rhetorical question. They are polished, literary, and he
generally begins like an American by telling his audience one or two
humorous stories: he believes in laughter, and he who laughs with him
will soon think with him. But there is always a sting in those stories:
it is not for nothing that he is so fond of telling the old fairy tale
of the wrestler who could turn himself into a dragon and then, if St
George appeared, into a duck: there are many of our Cabinet ministers
who have been dragons at the Albert Hall and ducks in Committee Room
15, with, as Anatole France says, “a domestic animal’s mild voice.”

It is, however, his writings that matter most; though opposed to war,
it is interesting to observe that he approves of the European War of
1914. At the age of seventy he demonstrated this by laying down his pen
and asking the French War Office for a rifle. But in the main he hates
war, though he be not Tolstoyan enough to believe in non-resistance.
He hates war because it is not good business for the soul of man; I do
not think he is much upset by slaughter or starvation, for humanity
must die somehow, but he knows that a war makes vile those who survive.
And if one reads _The White Stone_ one easily understands him. It
is an incoherent work, for the several stories it contains are quite
unrelated; it is the sort of conversation four or five cultured
men might hold if they were to sit up for the night with wine and
cigarettes. It is rather long-winded, here and there dull, pedagogic,
but it represents him fairly well from an intellectual point of view,
though it contains none of the indecency, blasphemy and Falstaffian
fun which pervade his writings. It is philosophical, a little rigid,
rather Protestant: but then Anatole France is seldom a good Catholic,
except when he is chalking up on the cathedral wall: “To hell with the
Pope!” The first part is classical, and holds nothing that he has not
said in other works except one concentrated phrase: “The saints are
a new mythology.” He then passes on to the story of Gallio, who is
perhaps, philosophically speaking, the most seductive pagan in the New
Testament, a minor rival being, of course, Pontius Pilate.

Here is Gallio, administrator of a Roman province, facing the problems
of Nero’s unsuitable marriage with Octavia, of the education of little
boys, and of the fish trade.... It is all very Roman, a little pompous,
a little dull, rather like England about 1860. Gallio is not joyous,
for he has no illusions; he knows that “men will die, will kill every
enemy,” that “human laws are daughters of anger and fear.” And he has
official troubles, for the Jews are always indulging in religious
wrangles, refusing to have images of the emperor in their temples. This
gets Gallio into trouble, and he thinks it absurd, for “one should
honour all religions, think them all holy.” But the wrangles of the
Jews are forced on him, and he despairs of making them understand that
they must manage their own silly business, that he is interested only
in law and order. He personally thinks that this new God, Christ, is a
mere jumble of two old ones, of Orpheus, who descended into hell, and
of Adonis, who suffered and died. Gallio does not object to the new
God, but he wishes he would not embarrass the Government; in Gallio’s
view the new God is a bore, but he is also a nuisance, for “there are
in Asia lots of these youthful gods who die and rise again, and good
women take more pleasure in them than they should.” And then Gallio
goes on wearily to control complex administration, while the modernised
fictional version of the Acts unfolds ... and Stephen is stoned while a
philosopher makes love to Ioessa....

This touches Anatole France’s theories of government, and it is not
wonderful that he should be so interested in Saint Paul, whom Gallio
would have looked upon as an uneducated person. He speculates agreeably
on the discomfort Paul would feel in Rome to-day, unable to understand
Catholics and Protestants, and amazed because Judgement Day had not
yet occurred. “The only place for him to-day would be Jerusalem.” But
Anatole France does not long dwell upon this jumble of religion and
government which was evidently suggested to him by the differences
between the French State and the Catholic Church. He becomes more
general. He believes in a future peace brought about, not by man’s
goodness, but by economic necessity, which must please Mr Norman
Angell. This, of course, involves a change in our attitude to coloured
races, who “know us only by our crimes.” Anatole France sees that from
the point of view of Asia we are the white peril, and he can find no
reason why Admiral Togo should not come with twelve battleships to
bombard Brest to assist the Japanese trade in France. And then he
agreeably meanders; he figures the revolting French besieging the
legations of China and Japan in Paris, and Marshal Oyama bringing the
allied armies of the East to the Boulevard des Italiens to demand the
punishment of the French Boxers, burning down Versailles in the name of
a superior civilisation, and stealing the dinner-set of the Elysée. It
is all very cutting if we remember what we did in 1900, and Anatole
France amiably adds: “No, this has not happened. Yellow men are not
civilised enough so faithfully to imitate the white.”

For Anatole France, the colonial mania is purely economic, and he
considers that Japan has done a great service to the union of races
by compelling the white man to respect the yellow; he does not
despair even of the black, who, he points out, are evolving in South
America, growing educated and much superior to the Europeans of 2000
B.C. Of course this means “no more colonies,” which he looks upon as
swindles, for “France has expended men and money so that the Congo,
Cochin-China, Annam, Tonkin ... may buy cotton-goods in Manchester,
weapons in Birmingham and Liège, spirits in Dantzig, and claret in
Hamburg.” He is right, though humanity will not realise that until the
day comes for it to haul down its buntings. But he is not hopeless.
He believes that even military men are growing more peaceful, that
they want “a pompous, magnificent, shining peace, proud as war.”
Evidently he must hold such a belief, for in the same book is his
idea of Utopia. It is a queer, intellectual Utopia, very different
from Mr Wells’, and probably rather distasteful to most of us. He
figures men and women in the international State, dressed alike (and I
wonder whether the other Anatole France has not in his mind the wicked
thought of encouraging delightful surprises), work done by machines,
a six-hours’ day, aeroplanes, small private dwellings, no towns, few
crimes (property having gone); he suppresses the legal class, alcohol
... he even suppresses the colon by operation and then eugenics. It is
the ordinary Socialist Utopia with the labour bond system, the right
to live for art and science, and the wages of ability; the family, of
course, goes, and the sexless increase. That is not unattractive, for I
gather that Anatole France wishes to make procreation less accidental
and to confine it to those who feel intimately impelled to it. He
sees the cinema and the phonograph ousting the book, which is too
individualistic; drama as dead, owing to a lack of comedy and tragedy
in life. That is what most of us will dislike in his Utopia (that is to
say, tragedy in the lives of other people and comedy in ours). Religion
persists, but in a great schismatic mess, and there is even a Pope who
fulfils his mission after hours, for he is a dyer in Rome. All this
is fairly commonplace, but it carries a number of fine criticisms,
some of them generous, such as that of capitalism, which “was a great
social progress, created the proletariat, made a state inside the
State, prepared the emancipation of the workers and supplied them with
means to power.” That shows a true sense of the evolution of man: the
need for educating him out of his nomadic state by showing him how to
combine in factories, armies, republics. And Anatole France is not too
ambitious, for he does not think that equality can be established
“as we do not know what it is.” All he wants is to assure a living to
all and to make work honourable. Likewise he does not imagine perfect
liberty, because it is not possible, and, above all, he does not
believe that men will be good or bad: “They will be what they will be.”

That is what he dreams as he sleeps on the white stone, the species
of man evolving into another race possibly fine, possibly vile, but
yet worth dreaming of because, as Mr Wells says, man is not final,
and so long as a thing is not final it has the charm of a closed bud
that conceals a flower the colour of which we do not know. Anatole
France does not say whether the flower will burst forth gorgeous red or
virginal white; it will be what it will be, and so best, for whatever
its colour and its form it will be that thing which he loves in his
quiet, smiling, sober way, the flower of life.



This may seem _énorme_ and yet somehow it is not: Anatole France is
not exactly a literary man. He is not a literary man in the sense of
Flaubert or Turgenev, for he is not content with being the god in
the machine, he is always allowing you to see him guiding it; indeed
in most of his work he is the god in the car. That is probably why
Anatole France has never adopted classical form. He appreciates it,
and in the many critical articles he has written he has praised just
those people whose form was perfect ... but it is the sick man, not
the robust man admires health. There is not one of his novels properly
holds together. I mean that there is not one that develops harmoniously
the story of certain human beings in a given atmosphere. At times, for
instance in the four volumes of _Contemporary History_, you have the
sense of developing lives, and then Anatole France puts on somebody
else’s coat, like Maître Jacques, transforms himself from coachman
into cook, calls himself Bergeret or Bonnard, or, more audaciously,
takes on the shape of Vence, the genial worldling, or of Dechartre, the
passionate sculptor, and talks. As soon as that happens the novel is
forgotten; Anatole France takes the reader by the hand and draws him
away to pick intellectual primroses. A delightful exercise; only when
hundreds of these primroses are picked you have forgotten the novel
you deserted. I have mentioned already the incoherence of _The Crime
of Sylvestre Bonnard_. Then there is the famous _Red Lily_, which is
supposed to be a love story; it is a love story of the most passionate
kind, only it is so inextricably mixed up with mystical excursions by
a vagabond, ragged poet, evidently modelled on Verlaine, with views on
pictorial art by Vence and Dechartre, that, interested as one is all
the time, one loses one’s sense of proportion. When the lovers meet
in the beautiful Florentine pavilion one is never sure that theirs is
a love feast: at any moment it may turn into an essay on the glazes
of Botticelli. Anatole France must at one time have been conscious of
this, for in one of his books, _Histoire Comique_, he made a great
effort to tell the story of a little actress who threw over her actor
lover for a young diplomat, and found after the suicide of the actor
that never more could she come together with her new lover because in
their tenderest moments she was haunted by the bloody spectre of the
dead man. _Histoire Comique_ is finely written, and in the best French
literary style; it eloquently evokes the life of the French actress, so
much on the edge of the _demi-monde_ and now and then over the edge.
It is almost as good as _Les Petites Cardinal_ ... and then Anatole
France spoils it. In comes Doctor Trublet, in other words Anatole
France himself, talking about medicine, about morality, about faith,
talking, everlastingly talking. Trublet talks delightfully, but while
he talks one thinks of the pretty little actress in whom one had grown
interested, and thinks: “Oh, dear old doctor, do stop talking; kisses,
not words, shall win the prize.” But then Anatole France has never
cared whether his ideas were relevant to the _story_; it has always
been enough for him that they should be relevant to the _temperament_
he sketches.

Perhaps for this reason, and it is an important observation if one is
to judge Anatole France fairly, his characters are unusually living.
People like Captain Victor, Tudesco, bombastic, ebullient, Falstaffian
people, move in our midst. Their creator is always poking fun at them;
persistently he erects Aunt Sallies and then throws bouquets at them.
He teases them because he loves them. It should be observed, however,
and I do not want to be ill-natured about it, that Anatole France never
pokes fun at the characters that embody his own personality. Bergeret,
the other nice old gentlemen, Vence, Dechartre, are never absurd; they
are amiable, scholarly, tender, generous, and have a strong sense of
humour. I do not say that Anatole France ought to see his ridiculous
side; I do not see it myself, but it must be there. Only, and you must
take my word for this without asking for evidence, it is not in the
nature of any human being, save the Englishman, to “take himself off.”
I have known a good many Frenchmen, Germans, Austrians, Spaniards, and
have never found in any one of them a glimmer of self-deprecation: they
were all supermen, and I expect were much the same before the birth of
Nietzsche. Still, and I repeat that I do not want to be ill-natured
about it, in spite of that little failing, it must be owned that this
little band of incarnations of Anatole France is very human; after
all, Anatole France is probably human himself, so far as a man can be
human when he is sane. Their humanity resides in their passion for
life. Every one of them holds the creed which is ideally stated in
the preface to _Mademoiselle de Maupin_. As I believe Anatole France
admires Gautier, I will venture to quote from it:

  “Pleasure seems to me to be the object of life, and the only useful
  thing in the world. God has so willed it, who made women, perfume,
  light, beautiful flowers, good wines, spirited horses, greyhounds
  and Persian cats. He has not said to his angels: ‘Have virtue,’
  but ‘Have love,’ and has given us lips more sensitive than the
  rest of our skin so that we may caress women, eyes raised on high
  to see the light, subtle scent to breathe the soul of flowers,
  sinewy thighs to grip the flanks of stallions and to fly swift as
  thought without railway or engine, delicate hands to draw over
  the long heads of greyhounds, the velvet lines of cats, and the
  gleaming shoulders of creatures without virtue; he has given to us
  alone the treble and glorious privilege of drinking without being
  thirsty, of lighting tinder and of making love at all times, which
  distinguishes us from the brutes much more than the habits of
  reading newspapers and manufacturing maps.”

In this preface lives much of Anatole France, his pure hedonism,
his pagan love of the beautiful, his entire lack of moral purpose,
counteracted by his consciousness of the decent, the elegant thing. If
he believes, as I think he does, in honour, in truth, courtesy, pity,
service, it is not owing to any harsh Protestant moral impulse, but
to a feeling that there are fine, clean things revealed to us by some
obscure Kantian, categorical imperative; if he has a morality at all
it is the Ingersollian morality, that is to say obligation perceived
by a fine soul. It is this inflames his style and links him with his
forbears, with Voltaire, with Renan, with Molière, with the Italians of
the sixteenth century, with the amiable Latins, with all the dead who
loved the sunshine, with the gay gods, and the warriors who, on the way
to the Elysian fields, did not turn their backs upon wine, woman and
song. Not for him the sombre fates of duty, fear, retribution; not for
him malignant Jove any more than malignant Jehovah. In the trenches
in 1870 he read, not Sophocles, not Æschylus, but Virgil. As Brotteaux
went to the guillotine he read Lucretius. For him flowers and honey to
lay upon the little altars in Ausonian glades, and not the rapes and
arguments of ancient Greece.

A Latin by heredity, it follows that Anatole France wields a style
of singular purity. His work is very polished and very condensed. He
uses as few words as possible to embody his idea, and when he has
made his point, as, for instance, in stories such as _The Procurator
of Judæa_, he stops. His desire is to knock out his reader, but he
does not, like Zola, then proceed to kneel and to roll upon the
prostrate figure, smothering it and flattening it out under a vast
bulk. Anatole France never flounders; he does not follow the man who
did so much damage to the literature of the nineteenth century by
piling up seventeen unessential details, crowned, often by accident,
with the essential one. Selection is with him a habit, and that is
why Anatole France will never be confounded with the Zolas, the
Sudermanns, the William de Morgans. Without selection he never could
have achieved his delicate little pictures of men and women, of
their passions stated in a paragraph; and still less could he have
built those strange animals that he so loves. They are not always
philosophical animals like Riquet, the dog, praying to man, his god;
sometimes like Miragoane, they are just intelligent, doggy dogs,
tail-wagging, greedy, apologetic, fulsome dogs; at other times they are
just decorative beasts, especially the cats. For Anatole France, like
Théophile Gautier, like Baudelaire, like Edgar Allan Poe, like almost
every artist who really is an artist, loves cats. In his eyes the
cat is as beautiful as woman. Here is a scrap, which I feel I render
inadequately, devoted to sumptuous Hamilcar, the Persian cat in the

  “Hamilcar, somnolent prince in the city of books, watcher in
  the night! Thou dost defend against vile rodents those things,
  manuscript and printed, bought for the old student by his modest
  hoard and his tireless zeal. In this silent library which thy
  military virtues protect, Hamilcar, sleep languid as a sultana.
  For thou dost unite in thy person the formidable air of a Tartar
  warrior and the indolent grace of an Eastern maid. Heroic and
  voluptuous Hamilcar, sleep until the mice shall dance in the
  moonlight before the _Acta Sanctorum_ of the learned Bollandists.”

That is poetry, though, as I have suggested before now, Anatole
France, in spite of his great love of the beautiful, is too critical,
too humorous, has too much detachment to be written down a poet. He
loves the poets, notably Racine, and one does not quite see why. But
he is not a poet because, I think, he is too remote; the blood of
the earth does not flow in his veins, and it may be that if he were
closely questioned he would confess that he thinks life very useful to
literature. That is perhaps why he tolerates it so well, why he can
smile at it, be serious and yet poke fun at it. What a Fabian he would
have made!

One word as to his short stories. He is in these more purely literary
than in his novels, presumably because in short stories he has not
space enough to get out of hand. A few of them, such as _The Procurator
of Judæa_, and one or two of the revolutionary tales in _Mother of
Pearl_, are as good as any French short stories, while _Crainquebille_
and _Putois_ reach the highest standard of de Maupassant. Still, there
is nothing to say about them here: there is only one thing to do,
and that is to read them. There are others, though, worth mentioning
because, together with their fine literary facture, they carry the
author’s ideas. For instance, in _Les Sept Femmes de la Barbe Bleue_,
Anatole France sets to work to rehabilitate Bluebeard, who, he
contends, was henpecked and deceived, though a very good fellow. This
is Anatole France’s little fling at rumour and misrepresentation. It
amuses him to trace rumour to its sources, and I can imagine as good
a story as _Putois_, the gardener who was invented and in the end
nearly managed to exist, being written round the story of the bombs
in the German governess’s bedroom that floated about during the early
part of the war. This is half mystical and Anatole France is not a
mystic, but he has written several stories, to which I refer a little
later on, starting from which it might be contended that if humanity
believed strongly enough in the bomb under the bed the House of Commons
might eventually be blown up. Most of the short stories, however, are
merely novels _in petto_; some are mediæval, many Italian, and, every
now and then, they are modern and ironic. Most of them, such as _La
Chemise_, where operations become fashionable among the Smart Set and
where the professor asks Society, “together a crowd and an élite,”
to his five-o’clock operation, “a charming bit of ovariotomy,” to
the accompaniment of flowers, pretty frocks, music and ices, are a
criticism of life. This story recalls a kind of life we know, for we
are told that “the professor’s elegance and grace were marvellous. The
operation was taken for the cinema.”

All through these stories runs his philosophy:

  “I love life which is earthy life, life as it is, this dog’s life.
  I love it brutal, vile and gross. I love it sordid, dirty, spoilt;
  I love it stupid, imbecile and cruel; I love it in its obscenity,
  in its infamy, with its violence, its stinks, its corruptions and
  its infections.... On Sundays I go among the people, I mix with
  the crowd that flows in the streets, I plunge into groups of men,
  women and children, which form round street-singers or before the
  booths at fairs; I touch dirty coats and greasy bodices; I breathe
  the strong, warm scents of sweat, of hair, of breaths. In this
  well of life I feel further from death. Death: nothingness, that
  is an infinite naught, and this naught envelops us. Thence we come
  and hence we go; we are always two nothingnesses as a shell upon
  the waters. Nothingness is the impossible and the assured; it is
  inconceivable and it is.”

A quotation such as this, taken in conjunction with the earlier
quotation from the preface of _Mademoiselle de Maupin_, outlines the
man within the writer, and I need not labour that the faith of Anatole
France is the faith of Epicurus, of Petronius Arbiter, of Villon, of
Rabelais, of Fielding. The whole basis of him is sensuality, and I hate
to say this in a country such as England, where the maypole has been
cut down and Calvinism reigns supreme, where sensuality, that once
whispered melodies into the ears of Pan and hung garlands about the
birch-trees, has been hated and hunted until it had to take refuge in
the dirty talk of the public-house.

The sensuality of Anatole France is like sap arising in the trees, like
the moth circling about the candle; it is joyous, frank, unashamed; the
world and all that is in it is its toy. In this country it has become
disgusting to like good food; you must not even talk of food, it is
not done (and the result is English food, the laughing-stock of the
universe). But listen to Anatole France on food in _Histoire Comique_:

  “The Castelnaudary stew contains the preserved thighs of geese,
  whitened beans, bacon and a little sausage. To be good it must have
  been cooked lengthily upon a gentle fire. Clémence’s stew has been
  cooking for twenty years. She puts into the pan sometimes goose or
  bacon, sometimes sausage or beans, but it is always the same stew.
  The foundation endures; this ancient and precious foundation gives
  the stew the quality that in the pictures of old Venetian masters
  you find in the women’s amber flesh....”

Here speaks the old Gaul who feasted on roast meats, drank much
hydromel, and as he caressed the long droop of his fair moustache
cast a negligent, amiable glance over his white-skinned, blue-eyed,
black-haired women. For the Gaul never forgot women; he had anticipated
Nietzsche by two thousand years or so, and decided that man was for
war and woman for the recreation of the warrior. This offends some of
us moderns, for the sensuality of the Frenchman, so strong in Anatole
France, the sensuality of eating and drinking, of burlesque, of gross
stories, some of them concerned with an apartment ignored in the
English household since the days of William IV., lies thick over love.

It seems a pity to us that, in spite of all his æstheticism, of his
sense of beauty, it should look as if Anatole France’s view of love
were contained in the famous phrase of Alphonse Karr, or Gustave Droz,
I forget which:

“Love? A matter of skin.”

Well, love is not a matter of skin, at least for us, and one would wish
that Anatole France should have found something ethereal, symbolic in
the union of man and woman. I cannot explain what I mean: I detest the
word “spirituality,” and I hardly know what I miss in this French view
of love that Anatole France holds, but I miss it. This view is not
exactly: “One woman is as good as another,” but it certainly is: “One
woman is as good as another if she is good-looking.” It is all flesh,
and æsthetics, which do redeem the flesh, do not redeem it fully. The
French heroine, beloved of Anatole France’s heroes, is merely Galatea
animate; she is just the beautiful woman descended from her pedestal
at the call of her chosen lover. Nothing calls to him save the warm
body that once was beautiful marble, and he is content. _The Red Lily_
illustrates that idea. Here we have two people, an unfaithful wife
and her lover. We are convinced by the suggestion of extreme passion
that these people have reached the apogee of love. It is an unhappy,
tormented love, unrolling near the Arno. It develops among a curious
society of literary people, is coloured by the usual literary and
artistic ideas of Anatole France. Dechartre, the lover, is tormented
because his mistress had before him another lover; he is not tormented
by the existence of her husband. His distress grows so intense when
he begins to suspect, quite wrongly, that she is unfaithful to him
with her first lover, produces a strain so great, that their alliance
breaks. Well, that is natural enough, for, as Anatole France himself
remarks, man is possessive and woman is not, because she has had to
get used to sharing, but it is difficult to understand at first sight
why Dechartre should be jealous of another lover, and not jealous of
a husband. The answer, which is not evident to everybody, is that the
act of love is symbolic and that a husband, taken as a social base, is
not comparable with a lover taken for love.[6] That is true enough,
but where fault must be found with the Gallic view is that there is
not a single phrase in the book to show that Dechartre, represented as
in the throes of extreme love, wishes to detach his mistress from her
husband. He never suggests that he wants her to live with him always,
that he wants her society, her presence, the subtle delight of hearing
her walk in the room above. He wants nothing but her body from four
to six, twice a week: he is honourable, he is an artist, but he is
vile, he is a beast. Big words these, but I have come to think that
if we differ at all from the brute it is by the courage with which we
face the consequences of our deeds, by delicacies of feeling in which
caresses have no place, by something that is more than elegance, that
can maintain love when sickness, ugliness appear and æsthetics fall to
the ground. There is not in the works of Anatole France a line devoted
to love. Whether in _The Red Lily_ or in _The Merrie Tales of Jacques
Tournebroche_, or in any of the episodes, “love” is either light and
false and lying, or coarse and brutal, or limited by the passing
efflorescence of a beauty that must die. He seems, like every other
Frenchman I can think of, unable to understand what the Anglo-Saxon
means by idealism in love, by that idealism so often made absurd by
sentiment, but yet delightful, and distinguished from the impulse of a
stag in rut.

    [6] Relations between husband and wife may have ceased, but
        this does not touch the argument.

And yet, strange to say, Anatole France has written a few stories in
which there is a hint of mysticism. _Histoire Comique_ is a story of
a haunting; in _Adrienne Buquet_ there is telepathy; in _The Graven
Stone_ a fatal influence. There is _Putois_ too, that famous tale of
a metaphysical conception in virtue of which a man who was originally
a joke ends “like a mythological deity, in becoming actual.” There is
_A Daughter of Lilith_, a tale of an immortal and fatal descendant of
the pre-Adamites. But those, I feel, are intellectual exercises, and I
suspect that they spring from a passing idea of the author: “I think
I’ll write a mystical story; it would be rather fun.”

The true Anatole France which hides under the sentimental old
gentlemen, so cynical and so human, born so cold and to-day so young,
is the irreverent, jolly, blasphemous Frenchman of the Middle Ages. I
have said this often and quoted much in support because I want to make
the English understand what is so difficult for them to understand: the
Gaul and his joviality. Still I cannot resist quoting a story from
_Penguin Island_, which I am compelled to condense:

  There was once a king and he had a beautiful queen. At their court
  lived a young monk, called Oddoul, who resisted the devil and
  even woman. So the queen, being woman and ambitious, attempted
  his seduction. She called him into her chamber, and he would not
  look upon her. She held out her arms to him, and he fled. Then in
  her fury, as he fled, she called the guard and accused Oddoul of
  having attempted to ravish her. He was thrown into gaol. But in
  the night, as he waited for the time to come when he would be led
  out to be burnt alive, the cell was visited by the angel of the
  Lord. And the angel said: “What? Hast thou not done what the Queen
  accuses thee of?” “No,” said Oddoul. “Then,” cried the angel, “what
  art thou doing here, idiot?” The angel of the Lord opened the door
  and Oddoul found himself driven out of the prison. Scarcely had he
  gone down into the street when a hand from high above emptied upon
  his head a pailful of slops. And he thought: “Mysterious are Thy
  designs, O Lord, and Thy ways impenetrable.”

It is not easy to understand Anatole France because, like other men,
he is neither good nor evil; he is merely what he is. I do not ask
anyone to forgive him because he loved much, nor to try and understand,
if that is the only way of forgiving him. It is very much better to
thank him for having brought into the dusty old lumber-room of stale
ideas the breath of the new; for having proclaimed pity in a world
that had slid into callousness; for having been gay when the creeds
bade us be sad. To do that, if one can, is enough, for though one may
not understand him quite, the times not yet being enlightened, one can
offer him the supreme tribute of loving him without understanding.



NOTE.--_These bibliographies are not the work of Mr W. L. George._

  Alfred de Vigny (_Bachelin-Deflorenne_). 1868.

  Poëmes Dorés (_Lemerre_). 1873.

  Les Noces Corinthiennes (_Lemerre_). 1902.

  Jocaste et le Chat Maigre (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1879. (_Th. Nelson._)

  Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1881.

  Les Désirs de Jean Servien (_Lemerre_). 1882. (_Calmann-Lévy._)

  Le Livre de Mon Ami (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1885.

  Balthasar et la Reine Balkis (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1889. (_Carteret._)

  Thais (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1890. (_Ramagnol._) 1900. (_Ferroud._) 1909.

  L’Etui de Nacre (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1892.

  La Rôtisserie de la Reine Pédauque (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1893.

  Les Opinions de M. Jérome Coignard (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1893.

  L’Elvire de Lamartine (_Champion_). 1893.

  Le Lys Rouge (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1894. (_Romagnol._) 1903.

  Le Jardin d’Epicure (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1895. Le Puits de
    Sainte-Claire (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1895. (_Le Livre Contemporain._)

  Clio (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1900.

  L’Orme du Mail [Histoire Contemporaine] (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1897.

  Le Mannequin d’Osier [Histoire Contemporaine] (_Calmann-Lévy_).

  L’Anneau d’Améthyste [Histoire Contemporaine] (_Calmann-Lévy_).

  Monsieur Bergeret à Paris [Histoire Contemporaine]
    (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1901.

  Pierre Nozière (_Lemerre_). 1899.

  Crainquebille, Putois, Riquet (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1904.

  Histoire Comique (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1903; 1911.

  Sur la Pierre Blanche (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1905.

  L’Eglise et la République (_E. Pelletan_). 1905.

  Vie de Jeanne d’Arc (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1908. (_Manzi-Joyant._) 1909.

  L’Ile des Pingouins (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1908.

  Les Contes de Jacques Tournebroche (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1908.

  Les Sept Femmes de Barbe-Bleue (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1909.

  Les Dieux ont Soif (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1912.

  La Révolte des Anges (_Calmann-Lévy_). 1914.

  La Vie Littéraire, Series i., ii., iii. and iv. (_Calmann-Lévy_).

  Le Génie Latin (_A. Lemerre_). 1913. (_E. Pelletan._) 1909.

  L’Abeille (_Charavay Frères_). 1883.

All the above are Paris publishers.


  Mother of Pearl. Translated by F. Chapman (_Lane_). 1908.

  The Red Lily. Translated by W. Stephens (_Lane_). 1908.

  The Red Lily. Popular edition (_Lane_). 1913.

  The Garden of Epicurus. Translated by A. Allinson (_Lane_). 1908.

  Thais. Translated by R. B. Douglas (_Lane_). 1909.

  The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard. Translated by Lafcadio Hearn
    (_Lane_). 1909.

  The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard. Popular edition (_Lane_). 1914.

  My Friend’s Book. Translated by J. L. May (_Lane_). 1913.

  The Life of Joan of Arc, in 2 vols. Translated by W. Stephens
    (_Lane_). 1909.

  The Well of St Clare. Translated by A. Allinson (_Lane_). 1909.

  The White Stone. Translated by C. E. Roche (_Lane_). 1909.

  Penguin Island. Translated by A. W. Evans (_Lane_). 1909.

  Balthasar. Translated by Mrs J. Lane (_Lane_). 1909.

  The Wickerwork Woman: A Chronicle of Our Own Times. Translated by
    M. P. Willcocks (_Lane_). 1910.

  Merrie Tales of Jacques Tournebroche and Child Life in Town and
    Country. Translated by A. Allinson (_Lane_). 1910.

  The Elm Tree on the Mall: A Chronicle of Our Own Times. Translated
    by M. P. Willcocks (_Lane_). 1910.

  Complete Limited Edition in English. Edited by F. Chapman (_Lane_).

  Honey Bee: A Fairy Story for Children. Translated by Mrs John Lane
    (_Lane_). 1911.

  Jocasta and the Famished Cat. Translated by A. Farley (_Lane_).

  Jocaste et le Chat Maigre. Nozière Collection (_Nelson_). 1914.

  Aspirations of Jean Servien. Translated by A. Allinson (_Lane_).

  The Opinions of Jerome Coignard. Translated by Mrs Wilfrid Jackson
    (_Lane_). 1912.

  At the Sign of the Reine Pédauque. Translated by Mrs Wilfrid
    Jackson. Introduction by W. J. Locke (_Lane_). 1912.

  The Gods are Athirst. Translated by A. Allinson (_Lane_). 1913.

  The Gods are Athirst. Popular edition (_Lane_). 1915.

  Magill’s Series of Modern French Writers, No. 3 (_Sower_).

  The Revolt of the Angels. Translated by Mrs Wilfrid Jackson
    (_Lane_). 1914.

  On Life and Letters. Translated by A. W. Evans. First Series
    (_Lane_). 1911.

  On Life and Letters. Translated by A. W. Evans. Second Series
    (_Lane_). 1913.


  L’Abeille. Edited by C. P. Lebon. Translated by Peter Wright

  Bee: The Princess of the Dwarfs. Retold in English by Peter Wright
    (_Dutton_). 1912.

  Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard. Edited by C. H. C. Wright (_Holt_).

  The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard. Translated by Lafcadio Hearn
    (_Harper_). 1906.

  Le Livre de Mon Ami, Le Livre de Pierre. Edited by O. G. Guerlac
    (_Holt_). 1905.

  Thais. A play in four acts by Paul Wilstach (_Bobbs-Merrill_). 1911.

  La Vie de Jeanne d’Arc (_Goupil_). 1909.

  Monsieur Bergeret: Passage de l’Histoire Contemporaine. Edited by
    F. H. Dike (_Burdett_).

  Girls and Boys: Scenes from the Country and the Town. Illustrations
    in colour and pen and ink by Boutet de Monvel (_Duffield_). 1913.

  La Révolte des Anges (_Bretano_). 1914.

[All the titles published in Great Britain by Mr Lane are also issued
in the United States by the John Lane Co. in a uniform edition.]


  Agnosticism, 70

  _Amycus and Célestin_, 64

  _L’Anneau d’Améthyste_, 29

  Monsieur Bergeret à Paris, 61 _n._

  Bierce, Ambrose, 50

  Blasphemy, 68

  Brandes, Georg, 9, 13, 19

  _Adrienne Buquet_, 119

  Caine, Hall, 56

  Calmette, M. F., 8

  _La Chemise_, 99

  _The Church and the Republic_, 89

  Collège Stanislas, 14

  Colonial Movement, 96

  Coloured Races, 95

  _Contemporary History_, 14, 29, 35

  _Crainquebille_, 54

  _The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard_, 15, 17

  _A Daughter of Lilith_, 119

  _Les Désirs de Jean Servien_, 15, 22

  _The Dream_, 57

  Dreyfus, 36, 52

  _The Elm Tree on the Mall_, 37

  _The Famished Cat_, 15, 17

  Food, 113

  _Le Genie Latin_, 55

  _The Gods are Athirst_, 15, 22, 83, 86, 87

  _The Graven Stone_, 119

  _Gulliver’s Travels_, 35

  _Histoire Comique_, 119

  Historical Work, 77

  Japan, 96

  _Jocasta_, 15, 16

  _Komm l’Atrébate_, 65

  _Lady of Verona, The_, 64

  Lane, John, 10 _n._

  _Life of Joan of Arc, The_, 78, 86

  Literary Criticism, 55

  Love, 115

  Machiavelli, 49

  _The Merrie Tales of Jacques Tournebroche_, 118

  _Mother of Pearl_, 23

  _La Muiron_, 65

  _My Friend’s Book_, 14, 21, 22

  _The Mystery of the Blood_, 64

  Mysticism, 119

  Napoleon III., 40

  New Atlantis, 33

  _Les Noces Corinthiennes_, 14

  _Pierre Nozière_, 14

  Ohnet, Georges, 56

  _On Life and Letters_, 8, 55

  _Opinions of Jerome Coignard_, 64

  _Penguin Island_, 29, 35, 74, 120

  Philosophy, 112

  _Poèmes Dorés_, 14

  _The Procurator of Judæa_, 66

  _Putois_, 119

  _The Red Lily_, 17, 118

  Renan, 82

  _Revolt of the Angels, The_, 22, 74, 87

  Religion, 60

  _Riquet_, 61 _n._

  Satire, 27–28

  _The Security_, 64

  Shaw, G. B., 28

  _Short Way with Dissenters, A_, 35

  Socialism, 65

  _Thais_, 71, 75

  Thibault, 14

  Utopia, 97

  _The Well of St Clare_, 63

  Wells, H. G., 28, 97

  _The White Stone_, 91

  _The Wickerwork Woman_, 41

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained; occurrences of
inconsistent hyphenation have not been changed.

Index not checked for proper alphabetization or correct page references.

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