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The Right to DifferenceFrench Universalism and the Jews$
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Maurice Samuels

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226397054

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226399324.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 29 July 2021

France’s Jewish Star

France’s Jewish Star

Chapter:
(p.50) 2 France’s Jewish Star
Source:
The Right to Difference
Author(s):

Maurice Samuels

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226399324.003.0003

Chapter Two looks at one of the most stunning cases of Jewish integration in the “golden age” following emancipation: Rachel Félix, who became France’s most celebrated actress in the 1830s with her electrifying performances as the heroines of Racine and Corneille at the Comédie Française. The daughter of poor, Yiddish-speaking peddlers, Rachel single-handedly revived the neo-classical theatrical tradition while at the same time maintaining—some would say flaunting—her Jewish identity. Reading the critical response to Rachel in the mid-nineteenth century, this chapter shows how she offered a model for the way French universalism, embodied in the neoclassical tradition, could be enabled rather than hindered by Jewishness.

Keywords:   Rachel Félix, Comédie française, neoclassicism, Jewish identity, theater criticism

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