views updated


HALÉVY (19th–20th centuries), French family of authors. lÉon halÉvy (1802–1883) was born in Paris. He was the younger son of Elie Halfon *Halévy and younger brother of the composer Jacques François Fromental *Halévy. A scholar of distinction, Léon Halévy became assistant professor of French literature at the Ecole Polytechnique in 1831 and head of the antiquities department in the Ministry of Education six years later. Although his connection with the community was intermittent and he married a non-Jewess, he never abandoned Judaism. He evidently found official prejudice strong enough to prevent his advancement, and in 1853 retired from public life and became a writer. Doctrinally a Saint-Simonian, he was critical of the development of post-biblical Judaism, favoring a reformist return to the "primitive faith" on semi-Christian lines. Halévy's works include Résumé de l'histoire des juifs anciens (1825) and its sequel, Résumé de l'histoire des juifs modernes (1828). He also wrote two volumes of verse, rhymed translations and plays, which included tragedies and dramas such as Luther (1834) and Electre (1864) and some popular vaudeville comedies.

Léon's son, ludovic halÉvy (1834–1908), was a writer whose comedies, librettos, novels, and stories dealt with the gay life of the French during the Second Empire. In collaboration with Henri Meilhac he wrote the text for Bizet's opera Carmen (1875), and librettos for several operettas by Jacques *Offenbach, including La belle Hélène (1865), La Vie parisienne (1866), La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein (1867), and La Périchole (1868). Their play Le Réveillon (1872), based on a German drama, was later adapted for Johann Strauss' Die Fledermaus. Their greatest success was the comedy Frou-Frou (1870). With H. Crémieux, Halévy wrote the libretto for Offenbach's Orphée aux enfers (1858). His other works include the novels Un Mariage d'amour (1881) and L'Abbé Constantin (1882), and several volumes of memoirs, notably L'Invasion (1872). He was elected to the Académie Française in 1884. In his later years he revealed a consciousness of his Jewish heritage. Ludovic Halévy's two sons were the philosopher and historian Elie *Halévy (1870–1937), and the historian and essayist daniel halÉvy (1872–1962). Although the latter graduated in Semitics and at first supported *Dreyfus, he became a reactionary and a convert to Catholicism. In later years Daniel Halévy even betrayed antisemitic tendencies, defending Marshal Pétain and the arch-antisemite Charles *Maurras. His ideological break with his old Dreyfusard friend Charles *Péguy provoked the latter's indignant criticism in Notre jeunesse (1910). Daniel Halévy's works include Apologie pour notre passé (1910), polemics with Péguy; Charles Péguy et les cahiers de la quinzaine (1918, 1941); Cahiers verts (1921–27); La Fin des no tables, a history of the Third Republic (2 vols., 1930–37); and Nietzsche (1944).


Catane, in: Evidences, 46 (1955), 7–13; Szajkowski, in: jsos, 9 (1947), 35, 43–44; A. Silvera, Daniel Halévy and his Times (1966); G. Weill, in: rej, 31 (1895), 261–73.

[Moshe Catane]

About this article


Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article