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Bloch, Jean–Richard

BLOCH, JEAN–RICHARD

BLOCH, JEAN–RICHARD (1884–1947), French author and political journalist. Bloch was born into an assimilated family in Paris. His Jewish consciousness was stirred in his boyhood by the antisemitism engendered by the Dreyfus Affair, and Jewish themes came to play a significant part in his writing. He was educated at the Sorbonne and became a teacher of history and literature. One of his earliest books was Lévy (1912), in which one of the stories deals with the effects of the Dreyfus case on a Jewish family in a provincial town. His most powerful novel,… et compagnie, (1918;… & Co., 1929), is the story of Jewish cloth merchants from Alsace who move their business to a small town in western France. This work portrays the conflicts facing the Jew who wishes to maintain his identity while integrating into French culture. In 1910 Bloch founded a literary review, L'effort libre, but his work was interrupted by World War i, in which he was wounded three times. During the 1920s and early 1930s he wrote many novels, short stories, plays, poems, and essays. Two of the novels, La nuit kurde (1925; A Night in Kurdistan, 1930) and Sybilla (1932), reflect his fascination with the East. In 1925 he visited Palestine for the inauguration of the Hebrew University, and thereafter wrote a number of articles on the future role of the Jewish people, notably "Quel service les Juifs peuvent-ils rendre au monde?" (in Palestine, 1 (1927), 97–102). An essay entitled "Destin du siècle" (1931) showed that his approach to the Jewish problem had become somewhat ambiguous. From his student days, Bloch had been a socialist, and from the mid-1930s his interests centered mainly in politics. He had joined the Communist Party in 1921 and in 1923 helped to found the communist-oriented literary magazine Europe and in 1937, together with the poet Louis Aragon, the Communist daily Ce Soir. When the Germans occupied France in 1940 Bloch became an active member of the underground and in 1941 escaped the Gestapo by fleeing to Moscow, where he engaged in resistance broadcasts to the French people. He returned to France in 1945. Jean-Richard Bloch was a brother-in-law of André *Maurois.

bibliography:

J.R. Bloch and R. Rolland, Deux hommes se recontrent (1964); Europe (Fr., June 1966).

[Denise R. Goitein]

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