Roots, Rootlessness, and Fin de Siècle France

in The Figural Jew

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780226315119
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226315133 | DOI:
Roots, Rootlessness, and Fin de Siècle France

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This chapter traces the historical origins of the figure of the rootless Jew after World War II. The association between Jews and rootlessness dates back to the story of Abraham, or even further, to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. The chapter demonstrates how turn-of-the-twentieth-century discussions of race and rootedness paved the way for the post-1945 revalorization of the Jew in France, and looks at the writings of three important figures in the Alfred Dreyfus affair: Maurice Barrès, Bernard Lazare, and Charles Péguy. Despite their differing positions during and following the affair, all three thinkers share a sense of the defining status of race in political life. Their representations of Jews and Judaism in conjunction and contrast with one another offer insights into how and why, in the postwar context, Jewish rootlessness was ripe for revalorization.

Keywords: Jews; France; rootlessness; race; Alfred Dreyfus; Dreyfus affair; Maurice Barrès; Bernard Lazare; Charles Péguy; Judaism

Chapter.  21092 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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