I, Dreyfus

I, Dreyfus

4.13 (52 ratings by Goodreads)
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Sir Alfred Dreyfus, beloved headmaster of one of the greatest schools in England, is found guilty of the murder of a child. Sam Temple, literary agent and fellow Jew, visits Dreyfus in his prison cell and, hearing the appalling narrative of his betrayal, must face his own denial of his faith.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 156 x 230 x 30mm | 480.81g
  • Little, Brown & Company
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0316648094
  • 9780316648097

Review Text

Rubens is a sublime spinner of plots, and her past triumphs include The Elected Member, A Five Year Sentence, Kingdom Come and Our Father, the first title winning the Booker Prize, the second reaching the shortlist, the third taking the Wingate Prize and the fourth the Welsh Arts Council Prize. Hers is a restless, curious mind, swinging from black humour to serious comment. In this offering, I, Dreyfus, she has accomplished something truly important. The novel opens with a letter addressed to Alfred Dreyfus care of H M Prison, Wandsworth, written by the managing director of the Jubilee Publishing House, expressing an interest in a personal account of the events leading up to the prisoner's present predicament. Dreyfus resists initially, then begins to tell his story. The son of Jewish parents who have, through pain, learnt to banish the past, he becomes headmaster of a leading public school. He neither affirms his Jewishness nor attempts to keep it secret; it is an inheritance, not a held belief. A pupil goes missing and is discovered stabbed to death, a crime of which Dreyfus finds himself accused. He is tried, convicted and sentenced. Only in prison does he begin to confront a lifetime's denial of his faith. In an Author's Note, Rubens refers to the trial of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish army captain who was found guilty in 1894 of passing French military secrets to the German Attache in Paris. The novelist Zola wrote an impassioned pamphlet, J'accuse, in his defence. After great suffering - Dreyfus was stripped of his rank and incarcerated for five years on Devil's Island - he was later pardoned, and his arrest became widely recognized as a conspiracy fuelled by the virulent anti-Semitism prevalent in France at the time. Rubens ends her Note with these words: 'This novel makes no attempt to update the Dreyfus story. Rather it is concerned with the Dreyfus syndrome, which, alas, needs no updating.' Review by BERYL BAINBRIDGE Editor's note: Beryl Bainbridge is the author of The Birthday Boys. (Kirkus UK)show more

Rating details

52 ratings
4.13 out of 5 stars
5 37% (19)
4 42% (22)
3 19% (10)
2 2% (1)
1 0% (0)
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