Weill, Alexandre Abraham

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WEILL, ALEXANDRE ABRAHAM (1811–1899), French author. Born in Alsace, Weill trained for the rabbinate in Frankfurt, where he also studied languages and literature. Abandoning rabbinics in 1836, he went to Paris where, armed with an introduction from Heinrich *Heine, he gained admittance to the principal literary salons. His friends included Balzac (whom he later criticized), Gérard de Nerval, Victor Hugo, and *Meyerbeer. Weill was a prolific author, publishing over 40 books and hundreds of articles in a variety of French and German journals. His subjects ranged from religious polemic and historical studies to linguistic speculation, mediocre poetry, and autobiography. His Sittengemaelde aus dem elsaessi schen Volksleben (1847), tales of village life in Alsace, provides invaluable source material for the Jewish social historian.

His biographical studies include Ludovic Boerne (1878) and Souvenirs intimes de Henri Heine (1883). La France Catholique (1886) was his energetic reply to Edouard *Dru mont's notorious antisemitic libel. Weill's kabbalism, later formulated in Mystères de la Création (1855), probably influenced the last book of Hugo's Contemplations. One of his many biblical publications maintained that the altar of the Tabernacle was in effect an electrical device. In 1890 he published an autobiography, Introduction à mes mémoires.


M. Bloch, Alexandre Weill, sa vie, ses oeuvres (1905); R. Dreyfus, Cahiers de la Quinzaine, Série 9 (1908); D. Saurat, Victor Hugo et les dieux du peuple (1948), 18–32.