Nearly 120 years after the Dreyfus Affair, a new secret file has been unearthed – and it upends much of what we knew about the famous case involving the French Jewish officer wrongfully accused of treason. As the file against Dreyfus shows – recently revealed by the French army and excerpted here for the first time in English – the case against Dreyfus was shockingly more complex, involving an affair between two military attachés, a series of forgeries, and an insidious campaign that subtly blended homophobia and anti-Semitism to thwart justice and land an innocent man in jail. Digging into the secret file, Tablet Magazine senior writer Liel Leibovitz offers a vivid new version of this seminal historical narrative, recasting the affair as a detective story set against the backdrop of beautifully decadent Belle epoque Paris. And helping to solve the crime here is an unexpected sleuth: Marcel Proust, a dedicated chronicler of the affair who, despite having never seen the secret allegations against Dreyfus, intuited them and incorporated them into his masterpiece of a novel. Conspiracy of Letters is a short and evocative story of history, literature, prejudice, and the way they often shape and inform each other.
Liel Leibovitz is a senior writer for Tablet Magazine and the author or co-author of five books, including the upcoming A Broken Hallelujah: Rock and Roll, Redemption, and the Life of Leonard Cohen, which will be published by W.W. Norton in April of 2014.