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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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Zola and the Dreyfus Affair

Zola and the Dreyfus Affair

(p.95) 4 Zola and the Dreyfus Affair
The Right to Difference

Maurice Samuels

University of Chicago Press

Chapter Four studies Émile Zola’s legendary support of the Jewish officer wrongly accused of treason in the 1890s, as well as Zola’s writing about Jews both before and after the Dreyfus Affair. Scholars have long acknowledged that Zola’s pre-Dreyfus novel L’Argent [Money] (1891) contains antisemitic elements, but this chapter shows that his essay Pour les Juifs, written during the Affair, and his post-Dreyfus novel Vérité [Truth] (1902), also voices a desire to see the Jews disappear as a people. In Zola we see how the defense of the Jews, and of republicanism, against opposition from the right resulted in the formulation of a hard-line universalism hostile to all forms of particularism. Zola’s brand of militant laïcité would reach its apotheosis in the 1905 law separating church and state and would become synonymous with French republicanism.

Keywords:   Emile Zola, Dreyfus Affair, L'Argent, Vérité, Pour les juifs, republicanism, laïcité

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