Friday, December 2, 2016

L'Affaire Dreyfus - Raymond Bachollet

Emile Zola's acclaimed 1898 open letter 'J'Accuse..!' was the turning point of the Dreyfus affair.
Captain Dreyfus had been convicted for treason and shipped of to French Guiana a couple of years previously. In 1898, evidence had begun to seep out that he had been falsely accused, and the French Army was frantically scrambling to cover up its numerous blunders and heinous allegations. 

In the course of time, Dreyfus was exonerated, though the affair remains an impressive miscarriage of justice and its innumerable oversights (to put it mildly) make it a major blot in French political history.

This thin booklet focuses on images pertaining to the business; mostly satirical cartoons and newspaper covers. Through these, Bachollet exhibits the particulars of the case in a brief, accessible style.

Two things remain with me :

1. The striking impact an image can have. Somehow, the brain absorbs images emotionally, without intellectualizing at all. Efficient, but hazardous, as means of communication, therefore.

2. What a shamelessly anti-Semitic society turn-of-the-century France was! What a piece of cake it must have been for Hitler to convince people Jews were the source of all evil.

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