Frederic Raphael

An Affair To Remember

The Man on Devil’s Island: Alfred Dreyfus and the Affair that Divided France


Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 542pp £30 order from our bookshop

Horace was right, ‘Bis repetita placent’: people like to hear the same stories all over again. Why else should Ruth Harris add yet another volume to the fat library of material, ancient and modern, on the Dreyfus Affair? Her justification has to be either that she has new evidence or that her style will refresh the topic. Only a crackpot, counter-factual version of the Affair could argue that Dreyfus really was guilty and that the ‘Jewish lobby’, in a proto-typical form, perverted the course of justice. A more refined malice would merely wish that ‘the Jews’ had never succeeded in procuring Dreyfus’s vindication, since the consequences weakened France’s national unity and self-confidence. They also loosened the authority of the Catholic Church and made scepticism – the occupational tic of ‘intellectuals’ such as the 1930s philosopher, Alain – into a contagious anti-clerical attitude. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • ‘At every waking moment Barbara Hepworth was aware of herself as a woman paving the way in a man’s world’ From the… ,
    • The entertaining Howard Jacobson is in conversation with Prof John Mullan at the Queen’s Park Book Festival on Sund… ,
    • 'A modest and retiring man, Thompson spent his life describing apple varieties and recommending the best – Ribston… ,
    • 'Macfarlane is a poet with the instincts of a thriller writer, an autodidact in botany, mycology, geology and palae… ,
    • 'Some scholars attribute Shakespeare’s pre-eminence to four centuries of propaganda and not to the fact that Hamlet… ,
    • RT : We would appreciate any retweets ,
    • We've just stumbled on a gem from the LR archive. The emoluments page from May 1995, in which one reviewer asked to… ,