The Dreyfus Affair and the Birth of the ‘Intellectuals’

  • David Drake
Part of the French Politics, Society and Culture Series book series (FPSC)


On Thursday 13 January 1898, the newspaper L’Aurore went on sale as usual. But the 13 January issue was rather special. Anticipating huge sales, the newspaper’s directeur Ernest Vaughan and its editor-in-chief Georges Clemenceau had organised an extensive publicity campaign and authorised the employment of hundreds of extra news vendors; within a few hours over 200,000 copies of the newspaper had been sold. The reason? Under the screaming headline ‘J’Accuse …! Lettre au Président de la République par Émile Zola’ (I Accuse …! Letter to the President of the Republic by Émile Zola) appeared an open letter to Félix Faure in which the internationally renowned novelist Émile Zola launched a blistering attack on named members of the military establishment accusing them of not only condemning, in 1894, an innocent fellow-officer, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, to be transported for life to Devil’s Island in French Guyana but also of participating in a carefully orchestrated cover-up of their activities.


Jewish Community Military Establishment Open Letter General Staff Republican Government 
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Copyright information

© David Drake 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Drake
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Middlesex UniversityUK
  2. 2.Institut d’études européenesParis VIII UniversityFrance

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