ZOLA, Emile (1840-1902). 'J'accuse ...! Lettre au Président de la République' in L'Aurore, deuxième année, no. 87, Paris: 13 January 1898.
2° (622 x 455mm). 4pp., folded. (Browned, a little spotted, somewhat worn along folds, a few tears in first leaf, tears at centre through all leaves.) Accompanied by 15 other newspapers or newspaper extracts (browned, some tears at folds) relating to the Dreyfus affair, dating from 20 March 1889 to 12 October 1926, contained in a paper envelope of L'Urbaine et la Seine insurance company marked 'Proces Dreyfus 1899' (torn); modern burgundy cloth solander case.
Zola's famous open letter in defence of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, an Alsatian Jew who in 1894 had been convicted of spying for the Germans, degraded, cashiered, and sentenced to solitary confinement for life on Devil's Island. Addressed to the President of the French Republic, Félix Faure, it accuses the war office of hushing up material evidence and concealing a grave miscarrriage of justice. Each of the final paragraphs denouncing the army begins with the words 'J'accuse.' Although Zola was prosecuted for libel and sentenced to a year's imprisonment, he escaped to England and his trial aroused further support for Dreyfus who was pardoned in 1899, though the sentence passed by the Cour de Cassation was not finally reversed until 1906. The extraordinary episode was transformed into fiction in Zola's Verité (1903). Among the accompanying newspapers in the present lot are La Libre Parole, Intransigeant, and L'Echo de Paris, all anti-semitic newspapers which supported the anti-Dreyfus campaign, but also articles in support of Dreyfus. For example, it includes a front-page article from Le Siècle of 6 January 1898 which reproduces in facsimile the forged bordereau used to convict Dreyfus together with examples of handwriting by Esterhazy, the architect of the forgery.