Jules Verne Forum



Verne's anti-semitism

From: Walter J Miller <wjm2~at~nyu.edu>
Date: Tue, 09 Sep 2003 06:38:01 -0700
To: jvf~at~Gilead.org.il

Dear Jean-Pierre Boutin and other Vernians:
I hasten to add my own experience with Verne's seemingly anti-semitic portrait in Servadac. Actually, I think I've said it best in my Intro to The Mighty Orinoco. Jules, like Charles Dickens and so many hundreds of great writers---Chaucer, Shakespeare---was raised by a Church that flagrantly preached anti-semitism. As W. H. Auden, the great English poet, explained to me in 1940, it was impossible to be graduated from Oxford without at least a tinge of anti-semitism. George Eliot was shocked to discover this in herself and wrote a whole novel to atone for it. Dickens apologized to the rabbis of London...he was not even aware how much his vignette of Fagin would wound his Jewish admirers. And Auden fell in love with an American Jew whom he passionately protected and admired until his death. The reason this has rarely been said in defense of Verne---in some ways a creature of his times---is simply that not everybody dare express anti-Church sentiments. But it's the Churc
h's fault, not Verne's, not Chaucer's, not Dickens's. And I'm sure Michel took his father to task for being anti-Dreyfusard. The difference between Jules and his son exemplifies the growing awareness of this awful problem created by the Church. The present Pope has tried to set things straight by pointing out that "the Hebrews are our older brothers." There should be a long footnote to every passage in Verne that offends in this way. Cheers! Walter James Miller
Received on Tue 09 Sep 2003 - 16:38:42 IDT

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