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Anatole France

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1921

Novelist, storyteller; almost all genres. Nobility of style, profound human sympathy, true Gallic temperament. Historical fiction evokes past civilizations with great charm, deep insight.

Post-World War I. At Nobel ceremony Frenchman France turned to Nobelist, German Nernst, exchanged a long and cordial handshake with him - a profoundly symbolic gesture.




  1. We reproach people for talking about themselves; but it is the subject they treat best.
  2. People who have no weaknesses are terrible; there is no way of taking advantage of them.
  3. Those who have given themselves the most concern about the happiness of peoples have made their neighbors very miserable.
  4. It is human nature to think wisely and act in an absurd fashion.


  1. It is by acts and not by ideas that people live.
  2. That man is prudent who neither hopes nor fears anything from the uncertain events of the future.
  3. For the majority of people, though they do not know what to do with this life, long for another that shall have no end.
  4. To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.
  5. All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.
  6. I thank fate for having made me born poor. Poverty taught me the true value of the gifts useful to life.
  7. Lovers who love truly do not write down their happiness.
  8. It is well for the heart to be naive and the mind not to be.
  9. Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.
  10. Innocence most often is a good fortune and not a virtue.
  11. The greatest virtue of man is perhaps curiosity.
  12. Suffering - how divine it is, how misunderstood! We owe to it all that is good in us, all that gives value to life; we owe to it pity, we owe to it courage, we owe to it all the virtues
  13. You become a good writer just as you become a good joiner: by planing down your sentences.
  14. Your hearts are pure and your hands are innocent, and the truth will easily enter into your souls.
  15. Those who produced the things necessary for life, wanted them; those who did not produce them had more than enough.
  16. Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened.
  17. Irony is the gaiety of reflection and the joy of wisdom.
  18. Jealousy is a virtue of democracies which preserves them from tyrants.
  19. The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards.
  20. An 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 know and what you don't.
  21. Nine tenths of education is encouragement.

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Name: Anatole France (pen-name of Jacques Anatole Thibault)
Birth: 16 April 1844, Paris, France
Death: 12 October 1924, Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire, France
Residence at the time of the award: France
Prize motivation: "in recognition of his brilliant literary achievements, characterized as they are by a nobility of style, a profound human sympathy, grace, and a true Gallic temperament"
Field: Prose
Language: French
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