The Dreyfus Affair and the Rise of the French Public Intellectual

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About the Book

While countless books have chronicled the wrongful conviction of French military officer Alfred Dreyfus, his ensuing trials, and his eventual exoneration, this distinctive volume examines France’s Dreyfus Affair (1894–1906) with a critical eye, analyzing the actions of its main protagonists, the rise of the public intellectual, and the Affair’s continued relevance. After a brief overview of the events to establish the poisoned ideological climate of the day, the work explores how intellectuals like Bernard Lazare, Émile Zola, and others contributed to the Affair, defining both it and themselves in the process. With mini-portraits of the key players and a detailed chronology, this telling book combines rigorous scholarship with cultural commentary to demonstrate the continued relevance of the example set by Dreyfus and his many supporters.

About the Author(s)

Tom Conner earned his Ph.D. at Yale University and is a professor of Modern Languages and Literatures at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin. He is author and editor of five books and a frequent contributor to journals such as The French Review and The NECTFL Review. He lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Bibliographic Details

Tom Conner
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 280
Bibliographic Info: 24 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7862-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1588-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface 1

Dramatis Personae 5

Chronology of the Dreyfus Affair 13

Introduction 24

1. Setting the Stage: The Affair and Fin-de-Siècle France 37

2. The Criminal Case Against Alfred Dreyfus: His Arrest, Conviction, Degradation, and the Long Struggle for Rehabilitation 57

3. Bernard Lazare and the Beginnings of the Affair 105

4. The Term Intellectuel: From Barbarisme to Mass Phenomenon 120

5. Émile Zola: A Hero in the Making 128

6. Zola’s World: Friends, Foes, and Leagues 153

7. Watching from the Sidelines: ­Non-Committed Intellectuals During the Dreyfus Affair 175

8. Intellectuals in the Aftermath of the Dreyfus Affair: The Nationalist Revival and the Move Right 192

Conclusion: Lessons of the Dreyfus Affair 216

Appendix: Visiting Devil’s Island 245

Chapter Notes 252

Bibliography 263

Index 269