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Thesis (M.A.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1949. Department of Modern Languages.


Copyright 1949, the author. Used by permission.


I hope now, by presenting sufficient evidence, to convince the reader, as I have been convinced, that [Anatole] France was from the start, essentially anti-christian.

In Chapter I, I wish to show the general pattern of Church criticism from the first attack until the last.Along with this I shall attempt to prove that while France’s philosophical differences existed from the start, it was the frontal attack in 1898 that really started an open battle. I hope to prove further that this battle was enhanced by France’s entry into the Dreyfuss affair in 1898, and that his political career was a major issue in leading to his ultimate censorship.

Chapter II shows in some detail the essential idea of Christian asceticism in contrast to France’s hedonistic nature, and demonstrates that France’s temperament is fundamentally incompatible with that of the Church.

While in Chapter II I shall treat of the emotional differences between France and the Church, I shall in Chapter III, try to show the rational conflicts between the two and to prove that these, also, resolve into an insoluble meeting of Christian dogma with pagan rationalism, which is in effect, itself a dogmatism of reason.

In the latest part of Chapter III, I shall attempt to show that France came into conflict with the church not only though philosophical differences, but also through his direct attacks upon the church.

In Chapter IV, I shall show some of the details of France’s political ideas beginning in 1898, and show how he combined his anti-ascetic nature and his rationalism into a dogmatic stand against the Church and Church traditionalism.

In spite of his socialistic tendencies during this period, I wish to show that he is rather more of a traditionalist by nature, but that his traditionalism belongs to the ancients rather than to the Christian civilization.

Finally, I wish to show, in more detail, just how his activities in politics, though just another part of his frontal attack, caused a showdown between France and the Church, and assured his ultimate condemnation.

Advisor: Charles W. Colman