The Dreyfus Affair

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Overview

In September 1894 the French authorities intercepted a letter which they claimed emanated from a Jewish army captain, Alfred Dreyfus, which they claimed to be proof of espionage on behalf of Germany. Dreyfus was subsequently court-martialed and imprisoned on Devil's Island, and the efforts of his family to have him released provoked an anti-Semitic controversy that split the French intellectual world down the center. Most famous among the participants was France's greatest living novelist, Emile Zola. This book is the first to provide, in English translation, the full extent of Zola's writings on the Dreyfus affair. It represents, in its polemical entirety, a classic defense of human rights and a searing denunciation of fanaticism and prejudice.

The book opens with the complete text of "J'Accuse," Zola's public letter to the French authorities. It also includes impassioned "open letters" to leading French newspapers, interviews with Zola at his home, intimate letters to his wife and friends written during his year-long exile in England (a direct result of three trials and a prison sentence for his part in the defense of Dreyfus), and his final articles, written when Dreyfus was close to being pardoned. Zola's texts constitute a unique and outstandingly eloquent primary source that is essential for a complete understanding of the Dreyfus affair. They shed brilliant new light on the official mind of France and were crucial in reversing public opinion, securing a retrial, and ensuring Dreyfus's rehabilitation. The significance of Zola's cause-and his scathing and passionate prose-resonate from his time to ours.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Written in defense of the court-martialed French soldier Alfred Dreyfus, Zola's essay "J'accuse!" is one of the most famous pieces of rhetorical journalism ever published. This volume collects, for the first time in English, all of Zola's writings on the Dreyfus Affair. Zola's many essays and open letters balance a seething fury at injustice with unrelenting, fiercely logical assaults on Dreyfus's accusers. Balancing these polemics are Zola's poignant, sadly domestic letters home during the year he spent exiled in England after his 1898 libel conviction. Levieux's readable translation lets Zola's forceful, somewhat bombastic tone shine through. The volume is not really a history of the affair, and the notes by Pags (editor of the French edition of Zola's letters) are sparse. (A more comprehensive treatment is available in Jean-Denis Bredin's The Affair, Braziller, 1986.) Instead, the Yale volume is documentation of one man's extraordinary public efforts to clear another's name. Recommended for academic collections.Robert Persing, Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib., Philadelphia
Booknews
An English translation of Zola's J'Accuse, and letters, articles, and interviews tracking the author's denunciation of the arrest and imprisonment of Alfred Dreyfus, the Jewish army captain accused of espionage in 1894. Zola's writings document the "Dreyfus Affair," its political and cultural implications of fanaticism and prejudice, and the novelist's human rights defenses which led to his own trial, imprisonment, and year long exile in England. The editor supplies notes, a chronology, and biographies of the key players in the Dreyfus Affair. Includes some photographs and reproductions from the period's newspapers. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300073676
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 2/17/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 262
  • Sales rank: 366,113
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.55 (d)

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