New Dreyfus Affair exhibit (NY)

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A new exhibition, “Alfred Dreyfus: The Fight for Justice,” at the Yeshiva University Museum, won’t fully explain the Affair — and, indeed, the show is flawed by a lack of an explanatory narrative and by much untranslated French in handwritten documents. Perhaps the facts were considered so familiar that they didn’t need to be put in context, as was probably the case when the exhibition was unveiled in Paris at the Museum of the Art and History of Judaism in 2006.

But that said, if you come here with some background — from, for example, Michael Burns’s brief documentary history, “France and the Dreyfus Affair,” or the more epic account by Jean-Denis Bredin, “The Affair: The Case of Alfred Dreyfus” — the 200-some objects fairly hum with importance and emotional weight. Unusual artifacts from the Dreyfus family collection also shed light on the strangeness and shock of Dreyfus’s personal experience.

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