The Dreyfus Affair


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"J`Accuse" and Other Writings

Emile Zola; Edited by Alain Pagès; Translated by Eleanor Levieux

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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.

Alain Pagès is a leading Dreyfus scholar and editor of the French edition of Zola's writings on the Dreyfus affair. Eleanor Levieux is an editor and translator who was born in the United States and has lived in France since 1959.

"This publication presents for the first time in English translation of Zola's voluminous writings on the Dreyfus affair. . . . The translations are highly readable and they give a dramatic insight into developments as events unfolded. . . . Pagès . . . gives a comprehensive background account to Zola's involvement in the case."—John A. Mizzi, Sunday Times

"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."—Library Journal

"The book offers a fascinating juxtaposition of the grand public Zola, breathing fire and sweeping history before him, and the lonely, conflicted and doubt-ridden figure in exile."—James R. Oestreich, International Herald Tribune

"For students of this complex and reprehensible moment in French history, the Pages anthology presents the full panoply of Zola's writings about Dreyfus, and by so doing reminds us that J'accuse is only the best known of a series of open letters penned by the great novelist."—Washington Post Book World

"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."—Reference & Research Book News

"The translation renders Zola's crisp journalistic prose in a style that speaks to readers at the end of this century. A valuable addition to English language literature on a watershed event in French history."—C.J.T. Talar, Religious Studies Review

"Everything he wrote about the Dreyfus Affair is included in this fascinating volume."—Sunday Telegraph

"This important English edition has the whole series of articles written by Zola on the Dreyfus Affair and also contains interviews with the writer during different phases of his eventful intervention. . . . A 24-page introduction, some helpful notes from the translator, photographs, sketches and cartoons of the main protagonists, a meticulous chronology of l'Affaire, and biographical details of the 'leading figures' have all made this a valuable collection."—Alka Kurian, Modern and Contemporary France

ISBN: 9780300073676
Publication Date: February 17, 1998
244 pages, 6.0625 x 9.0625