Tuesday 27 October 2015

Anatole France: His Dying Wish was to Expire in his Library

"Each one dreams the dream of life in his own way.  I have dreamed it in my library; and when the hour shall come in which I must leave this world, may it please God to take me from my ladder -- from before my shelves of books!" (Anatole France)

A century ago, upper class people used to have libraries in their homes, with bookshelves which stretched from the floor to the ceiling, sometimes a distance of eight feet or more.  A ladder, attached to a tract, which ran the length of the bookshelves, could be used to stand on and browse for books.  This is where author Anatole France dreamed he would be when he died -- in front of his beloved books.  

Born Francois Anatole Thibault in Paris, France, he later changed his name to Anatole France.  His father owned a bookstore, Librairie France, which he worked in as a young man.  This is where his love of books took shape.  Librairie France was known for its supply of books about the French Revolution.  

Anatole went on to take a job as a cataloguer at Bacheline Deflorenne.  Later, he held a position as a librarian with the French Senate.  Anatole's position in politics would not end there.  When the Dreyfus Affair erupted in France over the Jewish officer accused of being a spy, Anatole signed a manifesto supporting him.  

Anatole started writing articles in 1867.  He published his first poem, La Part de Madeleine, in 1869.  He penned his first novel Le Crime de Sylvestre Gonnard, in 1881.  His novel, Monsieur Bergeret, published in 1901, was based on the Dreyfus Affair.  In 1914, Anatole wrote La Revolte des Anges, considered by some to be Frances' most profound novel.  Anatole wrote in the style of French Classicism. 

Anatole passed away in 1924, at the age of 80.  It remains a mystery whether or not he died in his library, but he remained a bibliophile all of his life.

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