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Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 184

Anatole France’s first novel, The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard, appeared in 1881. This first success was followed by many others, including At the Sign of the Reine Pédauque (1893); The Red Lily (1894); L’Histoire contemporaine (1897-1901); L’Histoire comique (1903); Penguin Island (1908); and The Gods Are Athirst (1912). He achieved great fame during his lifetime and was elected to the French Academy in 1896 and earning the Nobel Prize in Literature 1921.

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France’s fame did not, however, protect him from attacks from various quarters. Once he converted to socialism in the 1890’s, many of his books centered on such themes as the separation of church and state, minority rights, and social reform. These themes brought the animosity of the French right wing down upon him but they were not in a position at the time to censor his works. On the other hand, his continuous attacks on the Roman Catholic church in his later works resulted in all his writings being placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (1922). In 1953 the government of Ireland also banned his The Mummer’s Tale on the grounds that it offended religious morality.

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