It’s always dispiriting to learn that a writer you admired (or at least appreciated) was an anti-Semite. According to a recent New Yorker article and follow-up letters, mystery writer Agatha Christie was contemptuous of Jews.

On the other hand, I was reading some of Anton Chekhov’s letters and discovered that he was a supporter of Alfred Dreyfus, the French Jew whose wrongful imprisonment as a traitor was a cause célèbre in Europe, and also of Emile Zola, the writer whose famous defense of Dreyfus “J’Accuse,” accusing the French army of covering up the facts, caused him to be put on trial and become a fugitive.

I was touched to learn, as well, that Dreyfus, freed after being imprisoned for almost five years, in harsh conditions, on Devil’s Island, attended Zola’s funeral in 1902.