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Balthasar and Other Works - 1909   By: (1844-1924)

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Balthasar and Other Works - 1909 by Anatole France is a literary gem that seamlessly blends historical fiction and social commentary. This collection of short stories showcases the immense talent and wit of Anatole France, highlighting his ability to transport readers to various time periods and explore complex themes.

One of the standout stories in this collection is the titular "Balthasar." Set during the reign of King Louis XIV, France effortlessly recreates the opulent atmosphere of the French court. The story revolves around Balthasar, a young poet who finds himself unexpectedly thrust into the world of aristocracy. Through Balthasar's eyes, France cleverly exposes the hypocrisy and superficiality of the upper class, juxtaposing it with the genuine passion and creativity of the lower classes.

France's writing style is impressive, with his prose flowing smoothly and elegantly. His vivid descriptions bring both the characters and the setting to life, making readers feel immersed in the story. The dialogue is engaging and realistic, capturing the nuances of the different social classes and their interactions.

Another notable story in this anthology is "The Procurator of Judaea." Set during the time of Christ, France masterfully intertwines historical events and fiction to depict the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Through the eyes of Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judaea, France explores the moral conflicts faced by a man torn between his duty to the Roman Empire and his own conscience. The prose exudes a sense of grandeur, creating a solemn and thought-provoking atmosphere.

What sets Balthasar and Other Works apart is France's ability to seamlessly blend historical accuracy with his own interpretations and viewpoints. Throughout the collection, he subtly critiques societal norms and institutions, providing readers with an insightful commentary on the human condition. His themes of social injustice, religious hypocrisy, and the plight of the marginalized remain relevant even today.

However, this collection may not be suitable for readers seeking fast-paced action or a linear plot. It requires patience and a willingness to engage with nuanced characters and intricate storytelling. Those who enjoy historical fiction with a philosophical touch will find Balthasar and Other Works to be a rewarding read.

In conclusion, Balthasar and Other Works - 1909 by Anatole France is a captivating collection of short stories that showcases the author's exceptional writing talent and thought-provoking storytelling. With a blend of historical accuracy and social commentary, France weaves tales that not only transport readers to different time periods but also leave them pondering the complexities of human nature. This anthology is a must-read for fans of historical fiction and literature that explores timeless themes.

First Page:


And Other Works

By Anatole France

Translated by Mrs. John Lane

Edited by Frederic Chapman

London: John Lane: MCMIX



The Curé's Mignonette

M. Pigeonneau

The Daughter Of Lilith

Laeta Acilia

The Red Egg



"Magos regos fere habuit Oriens."{} Tertullian.


In those days Balthasar, whom the Greeks called Saracin, reigned in Ethiopia. He was black, but comely of countenance. He had a simple soul and a generous heart The third year of his reign, which was the twenty second of his age, he left his dominions on a visit to Balkis, Queen of Sheba. The mage Sembobitis and the eunuch Menkera accompanied him. He had in his train seventy five camels bearing cinnamon, myrrh, gold dust, and elephants' tusks.

As they rode, Sembobitis instructed him in the influences of the planets,{} as well as in the virtues of precious stones, and Menkera sang to him canticles from the sacred mysteries. He paid but little heed to them, but amused himself instead watching the jackals with their ears pricked up, sitting erect on the edge of the desert.

The East commonly held kings versed in magic.

At last, after a march of twelve days, Balthasar became conscious of the fragrance of roses, and very soon they saw the gardens that surround the city of Sheba... Continue reading book >>

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