Book: The Revolt of the Angels, Anatole France

“Angels are fallible. They sin every day, and fall from Heaven like flies.”

This novel from Nobel-prize winning French satirist Anatole France begins with a mystery of missing books at the greatest library in Paris, commences with the story of a guardian angel who steps down from his post to become an atheist, and eventually climaxes with an epic of earthbound angels plotting anarchist revolution against Heaven.

Reader Guide

“Revolt” presents probably the single best and most inspiring depiction of Satan as a spirit of humanity, empathy, compassion, and revolutionary ambition.

To France, Satan and Satanism represented the vibrant power of material joys and human wellbeing, in contrast to the church’s dry and stodgy dogma of deprivation. The highpoint of the book is undoubtedly the “Gardener’s Tale,” in which one of the original rebel angels regales us with the story of civil war in heaven and the history of the world from a Satanic point of view.

On the other hand, “Revolt” also kind of peters out after that and comes to no particular conclusion. It also reflects some of France’s pompous and outdated opinions about art, society, philosophy, and men and women, and sometimes his sense of humor is a little elusive.