1st Edition

Edmond Fleg and Jewish Minority Culture in Twentieth-Century France

By Sally Charnow Copyright 2021
    250 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    250 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Edmond Fleg and Jewish Minority Culture in Twentieth-Century France, the first critical biography of the leading French writer Edmond Fleg (1874–1963), explores his role in forging a modern French Jewish identity before and after the Second World War.

    Through his writings – plays, novels, poems, and essays based on Jewish and Christian texts – Fleg fashioned a minority identity within the context of French Third Republic universalism. At the heart of his work we find a radical ecumenism, a rejection of exclusive and homogenous nationalism, and a deep understanding of the necessity of supporting vibrant minority subcultures within the context of a liberal democratic republic. This account is both individual and social, pointing to the ways in which Fleg acted within the possibilities and constraints of his milieu and used his writing to engage with and shape the discursive fabric of twentieth-century French culture.

    This book appeals to a number of scholarly audiences, including historians and literary critics who work on modern France and Jewish and religious studies and those who focus on issues of identity and difference, as well as a more general audience interested in Modern France and/or modern Jewish history. 


    1. Creating the Self: French and Jewish

    2. The Great War: Ecumenism in the Trenches and on the Stage

    3. A Jewish Awakening in Postwar Paris: Writing Networks, Prophets, and Personal Narrative

    4. Moses, Solomon, and Jesus: Biblical Legend as Modern Parable

    5. My Palestine? My France.

    6. Le Chant Nouveau: War, Retreat, Return



    Sally Debra Charnow is Professor of Modern European and Postcolonial History at Hofstra University. She brings together her interdisciplinary training in performance studies and history in her work on issues related to cultural production and politics. She is the author of Theatre, Politics and Markets in Fin-de-Siècle Paris: Staging Modernity (2005) and the editor of Artistic Expressions and the Great War, A Hundred Years On (2021). Her articles and reviews have appeared in Radical History Review, American Historical Review, French History, Modern and Contemporary France, and H-France.

    "Working from the only surviving copies of Edmond Fleg’s personal papers, housed at the Alliance Israélite Universelle in Paris, Charnow (Hofstra Univ.) has constructed an insightful examination of Fleg’s life and legacies. Her study focuses on Fleg’s significance in French Jewish literary and cultural realms and introduces his work to a larger audience. First attracted to aesthetics and later evolving in his literary approach, Fleg became an acclaimed author, playwright, and public thinker. A member of the intellectual community in France, he interacted with prominent Jewish figures such as Bernard Lazare and Victor Basch. Charnow unpacks the significant influences in his life, including his sense of identity, belonging, and “Jewish awakening” (p. 86). As she examines Fleg’s career, involvement in the Jewish scout movement, personal tragedies, and role in resistance and rescue in southern France, she also highlights the ongoing importance of the Dreyfus Affair, Zionism, and Jewish communal identity. The bibliography is chronologically organized according to the six main chapters, each of which attends to a specific period in Fleg’s life. The book is accessibly written and supported by notes and sources at the end of each chapter." - M. L. Scott, United States Air Force Academy, CHOICE magazine

    "This biography will be of interest to anyone who wishes to delve into the religious dimensions of interwar French thought. Sally Charnow’s Edmond Fleg and Jewish minority culture in twentieth-century France shows the vitality of religious and interreligious debates in French intellectual circles in this period. This is perhaps the main reason why Edmond Fleg has been forgotten in a country that nowadays styles itself as fiercely secular." - Noëmie Duhaut (Leibniz Institute of European History), H-France