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Anatole France

ISSUE:  Spring 1925

The whole world is agreed that Anatole France was a great writer, poet, novelist, critic. His mind was cast in a hellenic mould, and like Socrates he was a lover of knowledge. His position in France was unique and for a generation the crown of immortality sat gracefully and becomingly upon his head. Will the winds of time blow it off, will the seismic waves of literary taste dislodge it, will the changing tides of culture sweep it away?

Anatole France was vouchsafed more years of mental and physical activity than most writers; he began to write early in life and he never stopped. The changes and transformations that took place during his life; the overthrow of old idols and the erection of new ones; the replacement in the field of industry of man by machinery; the substitution of men for monarchs; the marvellous dissemination of socialistic ideas throughout the world, and the efforts to submit faith to reason made Anatole France’s epoch the most interesting in History. He was born in a book shop; he was raised among books and he passed his days surrounded by them. He lived a life of books: a serene, peaceful, uneventful life; neither immobilised by poverty, nor stultified by wealth; he had neither to expend his strength upon a profession other than the one he loved, nor had he to toil for his bread; he devoted himself to literature for half a century and it is fitting to inquire, now that he has made the supreme gesture and pushed open the door of eternal life, what he has accomplished, what he did for his contemporaries and posterity.

Beauty was for him what love should be for the perfect Christian. He worshipped it, he surrounded himself with amples of it, and he strove to create it. Intellectually he was an artist, emotionally he was an iconoclast, temperamentally he was a reformer.

“Happy countries have no history.” Anatole France has no biography. His personal life has no bearing on his intellectual output; moreover, it is too well known to need stress. All that needs to be known of it may be gathered from the four novels, “Le Petit Pierre,” “Le Livre de Mon Ami,” “Pierre Nozière” and “La Vie En Fleur.” In those four books, he presents an ideal picture of his youth and reveals the development of his intellectual and emotional nature; they are trustworthy and informative echoes of the author’s soul and thoughts, and serve his biography better than any reports of his life. From them we learn that Francois Noël Thibault, born in 1844, belonged to the small bourgeoisie, almost touching the peasantry; his first years were spent at home, under the vigilant, affectionate and sympathetic care of his mother, and of a discerning, intuitive, understanding bonne who was his confidante, and in awe of his pensive, verbose, stern father, a narrow-minded bookseller, imbued with the teachings of Chateaubriand. When the time came, after several years of schooling, to choose between sciences and belles-lettres, Anatole France who had been hopelessly unsuccessful at school, chose belles-lettres, without hesitation or difficulty.

He was the type of man about whom legends and false reports abound. His peculiarities, his savage tongue, his keen wit, his scarcely veiled hatreds and open admirations gave him the reputation of being heartless, eccentric, impolite and incorrigible. The books that have appeared about him since his death tend largely to confirm this reputation, but despite it and under the envelope with which he chose to cover his personality, there was a human and understanding heart which suffered, prayed, enjoyed and feared. His secretary, Jacques Brousson, whose critical faculties have raised him to a high rank in his country, has revealed such a man in “Anatole France en Pantoufles,” and if he has not shown all the respect and the deference Anatole France’s admirers would wish, at least, he has done much to destroy the legend that he was a monster: “If you could only read in my soul,” he said, “you would be frightened.” When he said this, he took his secretary’s hand in his, trembling and feverish. His eyes were full of tears; his face was convulsed. He sighed “There is not a more miserable creature than myself in the whole world. They think I am happy. I have never been happy for one day, for one single hour.” Which reminds me of the text that Mark Twain constructed for his autobiography: “A person’s real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, and every day, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, not those other things are his history. His acts and his words are merely the visible, thin crust of his world with its scattered snow summits and its vacant wastes of water—and they are so trifling a part of his bulk; a mere skin enveloping it. The mass of him is hidden—it and its volcanic fires that toss and boil, and never rest, night nor day.” Anatole France’s volcano was frequently on the point of eruption, but nearly always he succeeded in smothering it.

Many have said that Anatole France was his country’s chief literary ornament of the twentieth century; some have claimed that he was of the world’s greatest writers; a few have ventured to press the crown of immortality upon him. He carried his years like a porte-respect, and the enumeration of his works, engraved on the banner of his life, make an impressive testimonial. Opinions about Anatole France are as diversified as the scope of his literary achievements. He touched practically every form of literature save scientific; he delved into history, mythology and antiquity; he studied his contemporary period and he leaned his ear to the echoes of the intermediary centuries. In each of his endeavors he had signal success. This great variety of “genres” and of subjects, and the penetrating insight profound knowledge he had of each of them may well be his most justifiable claims to fame, and at the same time, they may explain his failure to be classed by posterity with the greatest writers of the past. This statement which sounds paradoxical is easily explained; every one admires the man who has more than one string to his bow and who can obtain superior results from the use of each one, and Anatole France was able to do that; in whatever field he chose to sow, his harvest was successful; but because of the very variety of his fields, and the quickness with which he could shift his point of view and opinions, his authority may suffer. Yet, Anatole France had the gift of impressing his readers with the security of his knowledge; he is one of the few authors whose statements are accepted by his admirers as blindly as the Gospel is by Christians. By his enemies, he was not only respected but looked up to as a valorous, doughty, resourceful opponent. He seems to have learned easily and remembered prodigiously; his understanding seems to be, however, mostly a matter of the mind, seldom of the heart. Human and divine sciences of which he made such constant use in his books seem to be inherent to him; they flow naturally and without effort, though not always gracefully or pleasantly.

Another reason for Anatole France’s great reputation— one dearest to the hearts of his contemporaries—in his supreme mastery of the French language. He carried it to its highest degree of purity and clarity. He is at the same time a purist, a grammarian, and a stylist. He was as critical of his style as he was of the grammar of others and he was wont to say that a grammarian is one thing, a writer another. “Grammar is an art. Style is a gift. One is born with one’s style, as one is born with one’s voice. One can, if necessary, correct one’s ear or one’s intonation, but one can no more become a tenor by deciphering operas, than one can become a writer by learning by heart treatises on grammar.” Perfect expression of thought is a rare achievement.

Most authors, contemporary authors at least, never reach the heart of their subject; they write according to the fancy of their pen; they label their efforts “modernism” and shrug their shoulders at such words as classicism, and romanticism. By his allegiance to the teachings of the past, Anatole France deserved to be called the last of the classicists; by his fidelity to maintain the traditions of novels, he is entitled to be called “romantic;” by his love for the perfect phrase, for purity of form and loftiness of sentiments, he proved himself a true son of the ancient masters; and by his keen appreciation of intelligence, analysis and objectivity, he made a definite place for himself in the modern school.

Anatole France is a direct descendant of the great writers of the seventeenth century in France; he did not suffer from the period of impoverished literature which was that of the nineteenth century. None of the authors of that period seem to have influenced him, save Renan who was his master. They had in common the power to rise above their own dreams and smile at them, but Anatole France was even more completely detached from his dream than Renan was. He said that life should have irony and pity as its supreme witnesses, and in keeping with this, he summed up the “romantic emancipation of imagination and sensibility from any definite center.” His immediate predecessors had, however, paved the way for his coming, and in their endeavours to deliver French literature from the chaos resulting from the Revolution, they were the stepping-stones between the Middle-Ages and Anatole France. Chateaubriand who presided as it were at the opening of the nineteenth century led far and away in Romanticism; he was the initiator of it, and at his death a new school appeared. Absorbed by positive reality in the same measure as the former had been steeped in lyricism and ideal, it procreated Balzac, Flaubert, Zola and Stendhal; yet, it is safe to assume that whatever romanticism we find in the work of Anatole France is due to the influence of Chateaubriand for he was the literary hero of France’s father and, as a child young Anatole came much under its influence. He cast the chains early in his career, but he never succeeded in liberating himself wholly from them. Balzac by his bold, complete and vigorous realism and his disregard of tradition, of classical heritage and of culture showed France what to avoid, as it were. France admired him as a historian, but as a novelist, he found him “heavy, fat, common.” He lamented his taste for puns and political tirades, but he admitted that all contemporary history was to be found in his books. Shortly before Balzac, Stendhal had prepared the way for Realism and he deserves to be called the first representative of the Realistic School. Like Anatole France, he was a materialist and an atheist, and as forerunner of Balzac he was also the father of contemporary novelists. Like France too, he was ashamed of his emotions and strove to disguise them; he created a Julien Sorel, cold, selfish, plotting and ambitious as a contrast to the great characters of romanticism. His characters are not only true to life, but too much so. He was so intent on giving only exact and correct observations that his power of imagination suffered. In a measure this is true of Anatole France, too. His mind was formal, his method cut and dried; he never took wings, as it were; he was precise in his details and true in his great lines, but he did not read beyond the motives of his characters and he studied them exclusively from without.

More of Flaubert’s influence is to be seen in the work of Anatole France than Balzac’s or Stendhal’s because he combined most of the schools, and he did it artistically. Anatole France did not belong to any particular school or form; he had natural endowments and he acquired unparalleled qualities, but perhaps on account of the period, perhaps from chance, or from necessity, he did not lead in any movement to turn a new leaf in the history of French letters. He was mostly influenced by ancient cultures, and had no scruples in making use of their contribution to literature. He did not attempt to create, but he had a message to give and he delivered it in the most beautiful medium he had at his disposal: “When a thing has been said, and well said, have no scruples, take it, copy it. . Give references? What for? Either your readers know where you have gathered the passage and the reference is useless, or else they do not know it, and you humiliate them by giving it.” That was out of his creed, and many will say he lived up to it. He did, in truth, and for that reason posterity is likely to rate him as an interpreter rather than a creator. It is for this reason that his influence will never equal that of Ibsen, Flaubert, Dosto-evsky or Chehov. Though many testify their admiration, few reveal their tutelage. None of his books ever raised the controversy that accompanied Renan’s “Life of Christ” or gave a new impulse to literature as did the contribution, meager though it was, of Charles Baudelaire. He will remain an important figure in the letters of the nineteenth century, but a figure without imitators or disciples, and the variety of his contribution prevented him from reaching the very essence of his effort. Had he had the formulated plan of Dosto-evsky or of Ibsen, and had he pursued the realization of it with the energy, determination and single-mindedness that they displayed, he would have to-day a higher seat in the gallery of immortals, than either of them. It was not his versatility that shortened his reach for the crown of glory; it was his distractibility. He could be diverted from a determination by whim, fancy, sentiment or appeal, and most of all by the bigotries, stupidities, vanities and selfishness of his people. He must hold them up to ridicule, lash them with stinging words, scorch them with scorn and sting them with sarcasm before he could find peace in his “objets d’art,” satisfaction in his bibelots and contentment in contemplation of concrete beauty.

Anatole France owes his greatest debt to classicism. He is its disciple; his best books and novels can be traced directly to its influence, and at no time in the history of literature was it more brilliant and fertile than during the period of Louis XIV. The country was in a period of calm and serenity; it was at the apogee of its glory; art and letters were encouraged and respected and they all bear the imprint of classic dogmas perpetuated by its monuments.

Anatole France’s work flowed as directly from classicism as Voltaire’s. Jérôme Coignard as an echo of the master’s ideas and as a mirror of his soul is as eloquently classical as Voltaire’s Candide, and both serve as a landmark in the history of thought. Jérôme Coignard is Anatole France, at the time of his greatest sophistication and scepticism. Obviously it was an exacerbation of perversity of the author’s mind to have presented him in the garb of a priest, but this garb made it possible for him to display his philosophy, his interest in the past, and his knowledge of contemporary events, his love for endless discussions, his argumentative nature.

Jérôme Coignard was a destructive influence; he saw no good in the world, he saw it hopelessly doomed to perdition, he mocked uplifting influences, and revelled in the primitive passions of man. His philosophy was negative and he satirized sentiment and progress. The world, for him, was centered around the dark ages of Greece, and he was cast in their mould. He reflects a true image of the transformation of philosophy and looks at it from a detached observatory, unlike Rousseau who listened to the voice of nature and repeated its message. Rousseau discovered unknown sources of poetry in the heart of men and in imagination; he contrasted and opposed the intuitions, which have their source in sentiment, to cold analysis. Jérôme Coignard believed in the cold analysis and Rousseau in the intuition of sentiments. Their teachings cannot be reconciled.

It is not alone Jérôme Coignard that is Anatole France; all his leading characters from Sylvestre Bonnard to Brotteaux, the pathetic sufferer of “The Gods Are Athirst”, are cut from his pattern and have the breath of his life in their nostrils. This is not astonishing if we keep in mind that Anatole France was not an imaginative writer. Each of his books had one personage that stood out above all the rest, That person was the mouthpiece of the author. He did not say a tithe of what he knew, nor did he utter a fraction of what he thought, but he put in his mouth all that he dared at the time. Had he been a little mad like Nietzsche, he would have dared far more, and who knows that posterity would not have profited? One of mankind’s most pathetic limitations is its fear of self-revelation. The penalty of pariahhood is prohibitive.

Where Anatole France is at his best, at least where I find him most delightful, is in his short stories; there he displays his literary grace and erudition without giving full rein to his philosophical passions; he can make an ancient civilization or a new world stand out in all its splendour; he can reach his climaxes abruptly and leave them at their highest point, and he has not the time to be “macaronique” as the French say, as he is in some of his longer books. His short stories are successful and full of meaning, without being dogmatic or moralizing. They vary in scope, they touch lightly on every subject, they make one travel from ancient Greece to the Kingdom of Nymphs and Fairies, from biblical characters to professors of Egyptian art in the Sor-bonne. This great variety is not the least of their charm.

Any one who would read “The Procurator of Judea,” admitted by some as being the best short story ever written in any language, cannot fail to feel the charm of the interview of Pontius Pilate. He has spoken of Christianism with an incomparable finesse of touch, he has understood its principles, the love of all for all, the universal charity, the need of hope; one would think that he had heard the words of the Master, and he has also understood how sublime and necessary it was, for the need of humanity, that the death of Christ should have been glorious and that His sufferings should have been regarded by men as a promise of salvation.

Anatole France, who would stand for no doctrine, who displayed complete indifference to the teaching of religion and claimed perfect liberation from them, was at the same time a moralist. He wanted to preach, but he did not want to be preached to; he held that there is no true philosophy of life, that the only way to improve the world was (as he has said in “The Penguin Island,” that most satiric of satires) to put dynamite under it and blow it to pieces, and he had no faith in his kind. He scorned efforts to understand the mechanism of the world and was wont to say that human intelligence, as acquired and developed by the study of metaphysics, might serve at some time to build a new planet, but never would it help man understand the one on which he lives. He was not tolerant of other people’s beliefs and standards, and his books on Monsieur Bergeret are amazingly full of the laws and dogmas he would have had accepted and observed. This moral tyranny which Anatole France exerted on all those who surrounded him, and which percolated into his writings is one of his possessions that is the least sympathetic; it shows, it is true, profound conviction and deep concern in the welfare of humanity; it can leave no one indifferent, and his enthusiasm, his tempers, his violence even are ample proof of his sincerity. Monsieur Bergeret, vat times, is simple and lovable; he is childish and naïf; he uses a delightful language and his smiling outlook, his good temper, his keen humor make us forgive some of his exaltations and virulences; but like Anatole France, who posed for his portrait, he was the sort of man with whom no one could live, were one obliged to do so by law or convention.

“Histoire Contemporaine” may not live as long as some of Anatole France’s writing because they go so deeply into contemporary politics that their interest diminishes as the events which loomed large for a certain period of time fade away from the horizon. The Dreyfus Affair and the Bou-lenger case, which are described at length in the Bergeret series, are already, after less than thirty years, pushed into the background. They will not serve future students of history much, because the case is only discussed, but never definitely stated.

It is remarkable to think of the extent of Anatole France’s knowledge of the ways of the world, the ways of the provinces, of the cities, of the gentry, of the nobility, of the poor and of the middle-class. He knows them all, he knows not only their surroundings and their ambitions, but their make-ups, their psychology, their reactions as well. He seems, in turn, to belong to each of the classes, sexes, or “milieus” he describes and he gives to everyone of them the same character of truth, of reality and of truthful observation.

He knew what is popularly called the human heart, that is he understood passions and inspirations. He had comprehensive knowledge of avarice, selfishness, lust, and he realized as few do who are not themselves dominated by them that they are the fundaments of world, and personal crimes. For what he did in divesting them of the camouflage effected by Church and convention, he will probably never be forgotten.

When he attempts a psychological novel, which unfortunately he did only once, he shed as if by magic his stern and austere envelope. He becomes one of the many admirers of Thérèse, in “Le Lys Rouge;” he is a successful sculptor and gives to his narrative the touch of luxury, ease, the atmosphere of a well-regulated home of the upper bourgeoisie in Paris which one would never associate with Anatole France. A rather stultified atmosphere, it is true, but as real as though it had been the author’s. The characters, there, are studied from within. Thérèse is the sort of woman who can and does analyse her motives; she is a real woman, too, ready to forfeit honour and reputation for the man she loves; she cannot love two men at the same time, and both her admirers knew it. The novel is a masterpiece of psychological penetration; the descriptions and the états d’âme are done with consummate artistry; the motives are delved into with keenness and understanding; Thérèse stands out as the loyal sinner; we forgive her sin and like her for her inability to deceive, while Duchâtre, her lover, seems a little ridiculous on account of his insupportable jealousy and his utter egoism. The conversations are illuminating pieces of humanity; the love scenes are rendered in such beautiful language that it has rarely been excelled, and throughout there is a feeling of true passion, of overwhelming passion, which opens an entirely new vista of the author’s personality.

For once, he has not attempted to hide his emotional disturbance at the sight of real love—he has not tried to pull down by sarcasm the temple built to Venus by the ages and by tradition—he has given full sail to his talent, and the result is one of the most interesting psychological novels of the present day. A novel of sexual passion without a trace of pornography, a cross-section of love’s throes, a summary of the potencies of our most uncontrolable urge.

Anatole France knows how to be enchanting. He proved it early in his literary career with his “Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard.” Later, when he had shed the indulgence and tenderness of Bonnard and assumed the personality of Coignard, he laughed at this early manifestation of his talent. He said that all he wanted at the time was to win the French Academy Prize—and he succeeded; but Bonnard he considered as one of his poorest creations, and the novel which bears its name, he regarded as a sin of his youth. Yet, Bonnard is Anatole France in the “cité des livres.” Bonnard is a philologist, an archaeologist, an erudite scholar and a philanthropist who lavished the gifts of his intelligence on deciphering old manuscripts and those of his heart on a sapient cat, Hamilcar. When introspection shows him that his life has done no one, not even himself, any good, when honours and glory have been showered profusely on his head and lustre added to his name, when the autumn of life was turning into cold and loveless winter, spring knocked at his door in the shape of Jeanne Alexandre, orphan, and granddaughter of a woman he had loved in his youth. The charm of the story is in the manner in which it is told; it is one of the early contributions to literature made in a diary-form and it has had followers and imitators in such number that the popularity of such fictional writing is far from being exhausted.

It is one of the few books of Anatole France which reveal emotion. It is redolent of it, and refutes the arguments which tend to prove the author’s inability to “feel” or to express feeling. It also gives a lesson in morals, in ethics, in beauty, in love and in virtue which he has enveloped with the charm of his talent, with such success that we absorb it without a grimace. He has given it the indulgence of age, the carelessness of youth, and every book lover thrills at the descriptions of the “cité des livres.”

Sylvestre Bonnards are plentiful in the world; Virginies, sex-starved old maids, are not as numerous as before the war, but Jeanne, the ideal young girl, whose laughter rings gleefully before her tears have had time to dry, it is to be hoped, will be always with us.

In his novels, and in his short stories Anatole France has set forth his most attractive qualities as a narrator and as a stylist; when he consents to put aside the mocking and poisoned arrows with which he pierces our idols, when he forgets his sceptical attitude and scornful disdain, and when he tells us, in his beautiful style, of biblical episodes, he is enchanting.

He also has the rare capacity of adapting his style to the story he tells. For instance, in “Thaïs” one of his best known novels, when he endeavours to show the simplicity of the life and thoughts of the monks who retire to the desert, he writes in an unornamented language and seeks no literary effects. Later, when he describes life in Alexandria where Thai’s and her court of lovers lived in supreme luxury and outrageous freedom, he makes a sudden volte-face and his style becomes loaded with figures of speech, with opulence; his sentences are longer, his words more sonorous, his periods more pompous, and the reader feels instantly that he is transplanted into a different atmosphere. An atmosphere stifling and artificial, though impressive, massive and lavishly loaded with worldly desires.

It is a long step from “Thaïs” to “The Penguin Island.” Almost twenty years of comparative unproductivity elapsed between the production of these two novels, though these years had seen the creation of “Histoire Contemporaine” and the appearance of some of his best short stories. They had also set the foundation for the volumes of “La Vie Littéraire,” which are Anatole France’s greatest contribution to literary criticism.

Jérôme Coignard is left behind, abstract thoughts are replaced by vehemently expressed facts. For those who like and understand irony and sarcasm carried to their highest degree, for those who can see the torch of light behind the misty cloud of metaphors and allusions, “The Penguin Island” is probably the masterpiece of Anatole France. Moreover, it is a most extraordinary tale, based upon intelligent conception of the formation of the French nation, most unusual in its display of events, and where facts and fiction come into such homogeneous blending and close juxtaposition, that they can scarcely be separated, and no one wants to separate them.

“The Penguin Island” is a survey of French history, pitched in the same key as “The Revolt of the Angels,” a survey of the history of religion, of the antagonism and struggle between God and Satan, of the dissatisfaction of the angels, and of their ulterior revolt. Both novels are treated with the most adroit irony, biting and harsh at times, but they are more appealing than the “Histoire Contemporaine” series; they provide food for the studious, interest for the searching; and they make an ideal case for those who were in sympathy with Dreyfus and Zola.

Although they are irritating by their constant invective, they are mild compared to “The Gods Are Athirst,” a revolutionary novel, staged in the days of the Terror, in which Anatole France let himself loose, as it were. The philosopher has been overwhelmed by the ardent believer in the justice of the gallows and by the revengeful republican. Some of the characters, France has endowed with his religion of wisdom; he has pictured Brotteaux, as he would have pictured himself; he has given faith and courage to the Barnabite Father, but Evariste Gamelin cannot be accounted for. He is an artist and a devoted son, a loyal citizen and charitable neighbour; he was an admirer of culture and a lover of beauty; he is harmless and obscure, but when the waves of the Terror swept over him, he lost absolute control of his passions, he became bloodthirsty, unjust, heartless, cruel and base. He acted like a member of the old Inquisition, and his only regret when he was taken to the gallows, in his turn, was not to have had so many innocent persons condemned to death, but not enough. He was a Paul who had become Saul. “The Gods Are Athirst” is a powerful document of the revolutionary period, and the study of the people, those who live on the street, is remarkable. The author has shown to what extent they were slaves to public opinion, how illogically their minds could turn from one ideal to its extreme; what sudden and unexpected reactions took place in them; and how soon they tired of anything they considered their only raison d’être for a period of time. The plot of the novel is somewhat forgotten, or rather overwhelmed by the extraordinary events which happened in such quick succession during the Terror; and when brought to light, it proves less fascinating than the study of the actions and reactions of the French people in 1789 and 1793.

From the horror of the tales related in this novel, we turn with a sigh of relief and the expectancy of a pleasant diversion to “La Vie Littéraire.” There we find a delightful critic who follows his desire to “tell the adventures of the soul among masterpieces.” He is an agreeable digressor, he is a keen critic, and he has raised the standard of such writing to a high degree of perfection. His criticism is not of a destructive variety, but of the constructive; he writes only of books or authors, or events which interest him, and with which he finds himself in sympathy; this eliminates much of the least attractive side of Anatole France, and leaves him his admirable conception of what style and language must be. They place him far above most modern critics, and assure him of a place among artists from which he can scarcely be dislodged. There is no animosity, no hatred, no spirit of vengeance in his essays on books and authors. There is only an intensely cultured writer who adapts his pen to the popular consumption of newspaper readers, even when these readers are those of “Le Temps.” He becomes more human than ever before, he shows a side of himself which calls for nothing but admiration, and his criticism is so just and his manner so polished that he wins his case easily.

Many of Anatole France’s readers, and still more of those who have never read much of his books, but have heard a lot about him, have the impression that he was an incorigi-ble socialist, a fervent admirer of bolshevism, a disciple of the communist creed, and an enemy of tolerance, of republicanism, of standards and property. Far from it. Anatole France did display an exaggerated tendency toward the socialistic party, but that was due, he says, to his distaste for some of the actual regime. His convictions were so sincere, and his words and adjectives so powerful that his pen often carried him along further than conservative people would have wished him to go; but no man of Anatole France’s calibre, no author of his genius, no artist of his talent, no admirer of antiquity, no fervent disciple of culture, could be classed among the communists or bolshevists. It is a pity, a great pity, that he who belongs to the whole world, he whose influence is so universal and whose contribution to literature and art is so admirable, should, on the stress of some of his books, be claimed by any political party. Anatole France was of the universe and he has proved often enough his detachment from petty distinctions and social standards, to be regarded as above and outside class or party.


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