The Revolt of the Angels, Anatole France
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The Revolt of the Angels

Anatole France was a Nobel Prize laureate; The Revolt of the Angels is ample evidence of his worthiness.

An angel, Arcade, leaves heaven, comes to earth, uses his invisibility to steal books from a library to study science and philosophy, after which he joins a host of fallen brethren with plans to overthrow god whom he views as not understanding the true nature of the universe and thus was incapable of creating it in the first place.

France's knowledge of history and religious texts is amply demonstrated; however the main draw is his cynical philosophy and his virtuosity in descriptions. When one of the angels delivers a tirade, the lifespan of the universe is captured in paragraphs: Original sin is a fable concocted by god, the Reformation was started by Luther “all swollen with beer and theology,” and god's thunderbolt was stolen by Franklin. According to France, god foresees everything, yet is surprised by the most probable event. France is not interested in orthodoxy, this is not religious satire to make you laugh; this is one that causes you to painfully shake your head and smile.

The conclusion is obvious, but it brings us back to reality – nothing will change. By the end of this impressive work of literature we discover only one angel is in revolt and it is not Arcade. It is Anatole France.
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