(Anti-)Semitism 1890s/1990s: Octave Mirbeau and E.M. Cioran
Abstract

Mirbeau's voice thundered in Les Grimaces (1883-1884) against the Jewish segment of the French population. During the Dreyfus affair of the 1890s, he became nonetheless an ardent Dreyfusard who reversed his sympathies. To those who doubted his credibility as a journalist, Mirbeau responded with recantations or "Palinodies" (1898). A century later, E.M. Cioran's death in 1995 led French papers to reveal the nature of his writings of the 1930s. His "youthful extremism" did not augur well for the Jews, or his own glory. Having tasted exile, he became later in life an uncompromising skeptic. Exile taught Cioran to understand the Jews better. In "Un Peuple de solitaires" he replaced his youthful anti-Jewish stance with a penetrating essay on the Jewish nation. This article explores how two fin de siècle writers courageously tamed their anti-Semitism and reversed their sympathies in favor of the Jews.


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