Wednesday, July 16, 2014


An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris is an excellent read. The facts of the Dreyfus case which rocked France in the 1890s are beautifully presented by an array of colourful characters and the tale told is gripping: a real page turner. Emile Zola, the most famous protester of Dreyfus' innocence, died in an accident in 1902, aged 62. His friend Anatole France said this at his funeral:

"Before recalling the struggle undertaken by Zola for justice and truth is it possible for me to keep silent about those men bent on the destruction of an innocent man?...

How might I remove them from your sight when I see
Zola rising up, weak and disarmed, against them?
Can I hide their lies?
It would silence his heroic righteousness.
Can I hide their crimes?
That would conceal his virtue.
Can I silence the insults and calumnies which they have pursued?
It would silence his reward and honours.
Can I hide their shame?
It would silence his glory.
No, I will speak.
Envy him: he honoured his country and the world by a vast and a great act.
Envy him, his destiny and his heart gave out the greatest.
It was a moment of human conscience."


Blogger Sheila said...

Thoroughly enjoyed this also.
I believe I've read every book
Harris has written and have never
been disappointed. Wish he'd get
around to writing the final
volume in his Cicero trilogy.

8:47 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Hi Sheila - I agree with you - his books never disappoint. I haven't read the Cicero two yet. He promises his next one will be the final in that trilogy. Have you read Anthony Everitt's excellent biography of Cicero?

7:20 am  
Anonymous kinglear said...

Zola was reviled and excoriated for his support of Dreyfus. The most interesting thing, of course, is that the apotheosis of Hitler against the Jews was only ever the culmination of centuries of hate, mistrust and persecution

1:53 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

True KL

2:19 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Dreyfus wasn't exonerated until 1906 so Zola missed his triumph.

8:02 pm  

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