Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Family Dinner: The Dreyfus Affair

I was reading one of the many email newsletters I get, and I came across a link to this political cartoon and the accompanying Wikipedia entry. Doesn't it say 'Thanksgiving' to you? I don't know what the topics will be at your table, but the topic here was the Dreyfus Affair. This 'Family Dinner' cartoon by Caran d'Ache, appeared in Le Figaro on February 14, 1898.

A family dinner consists of two superimposed drawings, the first representing a family at the dinner table with the text "- Above all! we will not talk about the Dreyfus Affair!" The second frame represents the same family fighting around the table with the text "... They spoke about it ... "

Thinking about The Dreyfus Affair brought to mind Robert Harris's award winning novel An Officer and a Spy. I highly recommend it. It's very timely on many levels. An Officer and a Spy is set in Paris in 1895 and focuses on the Dreyfus Affair. As you might remember from your history lessons, in 1895, Alfred Dreyfus, a young Jewish officer, was  convicted of treason, sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Island, and stripped of his rank. Harris brings history alive with his extraordinary storytelling, plotting, and deft handling of the political and social climate of the time. I loved how he intertwined historical figures such as Emile Zola and Alfred Dreyfus, with his own well-drawn fictional characters. If you don't remember the Dreyfus Affair, or if you just want to read an excellent novel, add this to your TBR. It's not a 'comfortable' read, but it's compelling and so timely.

Do you discuss politics at Thanksgiving? Books? Whatever, hope you have a lively discussion, but one that does not necessarily end in a brawl. 

Have a great Thanksgiving!


Yves Fey said...

I loved An Officer and a Spy. Naturellement! It had a Le Carre feel.

Priscilla said...

Must move Harris book up in the TBRs! As for discussing politics at Thanksgiving, we and the cats prefer watching football which, in comparison, is such a peaceful activity....