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La Bête républicaine

Christopher Prendergast

5 September 1996
The Dreyfus Affair: ‘J’Accuse’ and Other Writings 
by Emile Zola, edited by Alain Pagès, translated by Eleanor Levieux.
Yale, 208 pp., £25, June 1996, 0 300 06689 9
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ZolaA Life 
by Frederick Brown.
Farrar, Straus, 888 pp., £37.50, May 1996, 0 374 29742 8
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... explosive one, widening the fault-lines and divisions of the Third Republic and its major institutions. The most famous of those who believed Dreyfus to be innocent and campaigned for his release was EmileZola, and the most famous of his many journalistic interventions (gathered in The Dreyfus Affair along with interviews and private letters written in voluntary exile in 1898-9) was ‘J’accuse ...

A Spot of Blackmail

Douglas Johnson

1 July 1982
J’Accuse 
by Graham Greene.
Bodley Head, 69 pp., £1.95, May 1982, 0 370 30930 8
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... thing in the world. (‘This is the moment I’ve always been expecting, the moment when we leave the law behind, push out for new shores. It seemed curiously unimportant.’) It was said that Zola, when he took up the cause of Dreyfus, had dried up as a novelist and was looking for something to write about. Gide, when he wrote critically of Soviet Russia, was said to be smarting under Russian ...
10 June 2010
... Judt suggests we need more fear). We have lost our capacity for political rage. Can passion be stronger than power? Do we want it to be? Imagine now the Palais de Justice in Paris in February 1898. EmileZola has been charged with libelling the army in his famous letter, which we know today under the title ‘J’accuse’ (it was a stroke of genius of the editor of L’Aurore, the left-wing paper in ...

The man who was France

Patrice Higonnet

21 October 1993
At the Heart of a Tiger: Clemenceau and His World 1841-1929 
by Gregor Dallas.
Macmillan, 672 pp., £25, January 1993, 0 333 49788 0
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... of the 1889 Panama scandal, when dozens of deputies were found to have been bribed by the Canal Company – an episode which nearly wrecked his career. He made up for it by becoming, along with EmileZola, Captain Dreyfus’s most important apologist. And so it went, until his second prime-ministership in the last years of the First World War; his failure as a candidate for the Presidency of the ...

At the Royal Academy

Julian Bell: Manet

21 February 2013
... flesh to a framed vista opening out beyond the seat he occupies and threatening to snap the whole painting in two. It’s a livelier precursor to the better known but all too dutifully statement-like EmileZola of 1868. Manet is at home with goofballs – and responsive both to solid, self-willed fellows and to the mysteries of women – because on a certain level he himself is goofiness personified ...

Why so late and so painfully?

Frederick Brown: Cézanne

21 March 2013
Cézanne: A Life 
by Alex Danchev.
Profile, 488 pp., £30, October 2012, 978 1 84668 165 3
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... Where Aixois notables read Le Mémorial d’Aix, a local paper that reflected their deep-dyed conservatism, Louis-Auguste professed liberal views and subscribed to L’Evénement, the paper for which Zola wrote an iconoclastic survey of the annual Salon in the 1860s (singling out for praise Manet, whose work had been turned down by the jury). Even before he acquired the Jas de Bouffan, his villa ...

Eat it

Terry Eagleton: Marcel Mauss

8 June 2006
Marcel Mauss: A Biography 
by Marcel Fournier, translated by Jane Marie Todd.
Princeton, 442 pp., £22.95, January 2006, 0 691 11777 2
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... of him at all. There are always, however, the bare facts to fall back on. Mauss was born in the Vosges in 1872, the son of a sales representative and the grandson of a rabbi. He was the nephew of Emile Durkheim, and the two families lived cheek by jowl. As though to afford some amusement to future students of the human sciences, the families even collaborated at one point in a Mauss-Durkheim ...

Babylons

A.D. Moody

19 June 1980
Henry James. Letters. Volume II: 1875-1883 
edited by Leon Edel.
Macmillan, 438 pp., £15, March 1980, 0 333 18045 3
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Henry James: The Later Novels 
by Nicola Bradbury.
Oxford, 228 pp., £12, December 1979, 0 19 812096 6
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... and took seriously Turgenev’s opinion that the trouble with him was that he had never known a decent woman but had passed his life exclusively ‘avec des courtisanes et des rien-du-tout’. Zola’s naturalisme he execrated: ‘I heard EmileZola characterise [Daudet’s] manner sometime since as merde à la vanille. I send you by post Zola’s own last – merde au naturel. Simply hideous ...

Aids and the Polio Vaccine

Edward Hooper: New evidence

3 April 2003
... polio vaccine – trials that employed African ‘volunteers’ as guinea pigs. An extended version of this article, entitled ‘Dephlogistication, Imperial Display, Apes, Angels and the Return of Mr EmileZola’, is available online at www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/dissent/documents/AIDS ...

Like Leather, like Snakes

Julian Bell: Vermeer and Leeuwenhoek

29 March 2017
Eye of the Beholder: Johannes Vermeer, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and the Reinvention of Seeing 
by Laura Snyder.
Head of Zeus, 448 pp., £14.99, December 2016, 978 1 78497 025 3
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... thesis – the pairing of Leeuwenhoek and Vermeer – I started to stumble. It may seem notable that, say, Samuel Johnson and David Garrick set off together to conquer London from Lichfield, or that EmileZola and Paul Cézanne were once classmates in Aix, but it’s not clear that such coincidences demand joint biographies, let alone overarching hypotheses.Snyder is proper in her scholarship. She is ...
23 April 1987
The Affair: The Case of Alfred Dreyfus 
by Jean-Denis Bredin, translated by Jeffrey Mehlman.
Sidgwick, 628 pp., £20, March 1987, 0 283 99443 6
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Neither Right nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France 
by Zeev Sternhell, translated by David Maisel.
California, 416 pp., £38.25, December 1986, 0 520 05207 2
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... Crudely, the model is this. There was a Jewish officer working for the French General Staff, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, who in 1894 was falsely accused and imprisoned for being a German spy. Once EmileZola had written his famous ‘J’accuse’ open letter there was a great taking of sides, with the forces of the republican and anti-clerical Left ranged against the forces of the conservative ...

A Preference for Torquemada

Michael Wood: G.K. Chesterton

9 April 2009
Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy: The Making of GKC 1874-1908 
by William Oddie.
Oxford, 401 pp., £25, November 2008, 978 0 19 955165 1
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The Man Who Was Thursday 
by G.K. Chesterton.
Atlantic, 187 pp., £7.99, December 2008, 978 1 84354 905 5
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... and even uses the word ‘genial’: ‘In the glad old days, before the rise of modern morbidities, when genial old Ibsen filled the world with wholesome joy, and the kindly tales of the forgotten EmileZola kept our firesides merry and pure, it used to be thought a disadvantage to be misunderstood.’ And even when he is not genial, he is very funny. ‘Mr Shaw is (I suspect) the only man on earth ...
4 May 1989
Flaubert: A Biography 
by Herbert Lottman.
Methuen, 396 pp., £17.95, April 1989, 0 413 41770 0
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... confused him with his brother Achille and said he had once trained as a surgeon (the Paper of Record also retitled his last novel Bouvard et Peluchet). The first proper study of Flaubert, by Emile Faguet (1899; Englished in 1914), firmly and misleadingly declared that the writer’s affair with Louise Colet ‘may be considered as the only sentimental episode of any importance in Flaubert’s ...
6 May 1982
The Young Rebecca: Writings of Rebecca West 1911-17 
by Jane Marcus.
Macmillan, 340 pp., £9.95, April 1982, 0 333 25589 5
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The Harsh Voice 
by Rebecca West, introduced by Alexandra Pringle.
Virago, 250 pp., £2.95, February 1982, 0 86068 249 8
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The Meaning of Treason 
by Rebecca West.
Virago, 439 pp., £3.95, February 1982, 0 86068 256 0
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1990 
by Rebecca West.
Weidenfeld, 190 pp., £10, February 1982, 9780297779636
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... of her clothes into the toilet bowl’. But surely all spies are not as mindless as this. ‘On January 31st, 1900, as the ninth Marquess of Queensberry lay dying in his magnificent house in town, EmileZola in France lovingly dusted the medal he had received a fortnight earlier for his services in the Dreyfus affair, and thousands of miles away Mafeking awoke to its hundred-and-first day of siege ...

Stewing Waters

Tim Parks: Garibaldi

21 July 2005
Rome or Death: The Obsessions of General Garibaldi 
by Daniel Pick.
Cape, 288 pp., £16.99, July 2005, 0 224 07179 3
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... the unsavoury reality of stewing waters’; all of this was ‘breathtakingly perilous’, and made even worse when ‘decisions about the Tiber were once more frozen’. Little wonder then that EmileZola wrote ‘a sustained post mortem on the eternal city’. And so on. The irony is that if there was a man in 19th-century Italy who had set his spirit against received ideas and the thrall in ...

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