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The Revolt of the Angels

Anatole France


Arcade is a guardian angel assigned to Maurice d’Esparvieu, a man so honest that he seems to be sinless. Bored by this lack of work, Arcade begins reading the books in d’Esparvieu’s library—but he reads too widely and too deeply. Soon, he finds himself losing his faith in God, who he realizes is really just a minor deity named Ialdabaoth with delusions of grandeur.

Disillusioned with his existence, he moves to Paris, loses his wings, and meets other fallen angels. Together they begin to plot a new revolt against God to rescue Satan and install him to the throne of heaven.

Told in Anatole France’s characteristic light and ironic style, The Revolt of the Angels is a work of philosophy as much as it is a work of fiction. Through Arcade’s evolving perspective on faith and human affairs, France probes not just religion, but the causes, mechanisms, and consequences of revolutions. His conclusion on the cyclical nature of human suffering and governance is a grim foreshadowing of the Russian Revolution, which occurred just a few years after Revolt of the Angels was published—and of which France was an outspoken supporter.

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