Writer and critic Anatole France (1844-1924) was born Jacques Anatole Thibault on this day. The only son of a Paris bookseller, he adopted his father's nickname as his pseudonym. Self-educated, he grew up with a voracious appetite for reading.
In his autobiography My Friend's Book (1885), France recalled the delight and stimulation he felt growing up with books. A shy man, his career as a writer developed slowly as he struggled with finding his style and voice.
"Chance," observed France, "is perhaps the pseudonym of God when He did not want to sign."
His most famous work, Penguin Island (1909) was a political satire that poked fun at mankind, the Church, and government with the help of penguins in the mythical land of Penguinia. In the classic parable, the blind monk Saint Mael accidentally confused humans with penguins and baptized the penguins.
With wit often compared to Voltaire, France once observed, "It is not customary to love what one has."
His books were awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1921. In tribute, critic Murray Sach wrote, "France combined mockery of human pretension and compassion for human suffering, couched in a deceptively simple style of the most elegant classical purity."
A beacon for passionate truth, France once wrote about learning: "Education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know... It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't."
More Anatole FRANCE Quotations
Believe in your dreams.