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Anatole France
French novelist and man of letters
(1844-1924)



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Le christianisme a beaucoup fait pour l’amour en en faisant un
péché.

Religion has done love a great service bymaking it a sin.
-- Le Jardin d'Épicure [The Garden of Epicurus] (1894)

S’il fallait absolument choisir, j’aimerais mieux faire une chose immorale qu’une chose cruelle.
If it were absolutely necessary to choose, I would rather be guilty of an immoral act than of a cruel one.
-- Le Lys Rouge [The Red Lily] (1894), ch. 1

La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain.
In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.
-- Le Lys Rouge [The Red Lily] (1894), ch. 7

Pour accomplir de grandes choses il ne suffit pas d'agir il faut rêver; il ne suffit pas de calculer, il faut croire.
To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.)
(Alternative translation: To accomplish great things, we must dream as well as act.
-- Speaking of Ferdinand de Lesseps' work on the Suez Canal during his introductory speech at a session of the French Academy (Discours de réception, Séance de L'Académie française), 24 December 1896.

Dans tout État policé, la richesse est chose sacrée; dans les démocraties elle est la seule chose sacrée.
In every well-governed state, wealth is a sacred thing; in democracies it is the only sacred thing.
-- L'Île des Pingouins [Penguin Island] (1908), Book VI: Les Temps Modernes, Ch. II: Pyrot

De toutes les définitions de l'homme, la plus mauvaise me paraît celle qui en fait un animal raisonnable.
Of all the ways of defining man, the worst is the one which makes him out to be a rational animal.
-- Le Petit Pierre [Little Peter] (1918), ch. XXXIII

On croit mourir pour la patrie; on meurt pour les industriels.
You think you are dying for your country; you die for the industrialists.
-- L'Humanité, 18 July 1922

Quand une chose a été dite et bien dite, n'ayez aucun scrupule, prenez-la, copiez.
When a thing has been said and well said, have no scruple: take it and copy it.
-- Quoted in Anatole France en pantoufles by Jean-Jacques Brousson (1924); published in English as Anatole France Himself: A Boswellian Record by His Secretary, by Jean-Jacques Brousson (1925), trans. John Pollock [Read Books, 2007], p. 56

On devient bon écrivain comme on devient bon menuisier: en rabotant ses phrases.
You become a good writer just as you become a good joiner: by planing down your sentences.
-- Quoted in Anatole France en pantoufles by Jean-Jacques Brousson (1924); published in English as Anatole France Himself: A Boswellian Record by His Secretary, by Jean-Jacques Brousson (1925), trans. John Pollock [Read Books, 2007], p. 85

If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
-- Quoted in Listening and Speaking : A Guide to Effective Oral Communication (1954) by Ralph G. Nichols and Thomas R. Lewis, p. 74

Les amants qui aiment bien n'écrivent pas leur bonheur.
Lovers who love truly do not write down their happiness.
-- Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard (The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard) (1881), La Bûche [The Log] (November 30, 1859)

L'art d'enseigner n'est que l'art d'éveiller la curiosité des jeunes âmes pour la satisfaire ensuite.
The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards.
-- Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard (The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard)
(1881), Pt. II, ch. 4



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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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