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Tharaud, Jérôme (1874–1953) and Jean° (1877–1952)

THARAUD, JÉRÔME (1874–1953) and JEAN° (1877–1952)

THARAUD, JÉRÔME (1874–1953) and JEAN ° (1877–1952), French novelists and essayists. The two are generally spoken of together because they wrote all their books jointly under the name J.-J. Tharaud.

An early Tharaud work on a Jewish theme was Bar-Cochebas (1907), but it was not for another decade that they embarked on the series of books that were designed to explain Judaism and traditional Jewish life to the average Frenchman.

From their studies of Jewish life in Central Europe, the Tharauds were inspired to describe, within the framework of loosely constructed novels, the picturesqueness of the ghetto, and the role of the synagogue and the yeshivah. The novels include L'Ombre de la croix (1917); Un royaume de Dieu (1920), an admiring account of East European Jewry's high ethical and cultural standards; Quand Israël est roi (1921); and La Rose de Sâron (1927). In L'An Prochain à Jérusalem (1924), an enthusiastic survey of Zionism's spiritual and messianic roots, the Tharaud brothers derided those Western Jews who were happy to dispatch their brethren to a Promised Land with which they themselves felt only nominal links. Another work of nonfiction was their Petite histoire des Juifs (1927). In 1933 the Tharaud brothers suddenly reversed their attitude in Quand Israël n'est plus roi, which presented Jews in an extremely unfavorable light. The Tharauds had finally chosen to adopt the antisemitic view that ancient Israel and modern Jewry were two separate entities, and that the solution to the "Jewish problem" was the enforced physical separation of the Jews from gentile society.


J. Bonnerot, Jérôme et Jean Tharaud; leur oeuvre (1927); D. Halévy, Eloge de Jérôme Tharaud (1954); C. Lehrmann, L'élément juif dans la littérature française, 2 (1961), 106–8.

[Sidney D. Braun]

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