French graphic novel depicts Theodor Herzl's life
Graphic memoir by French-Jewish and Russian-Jewish duo depicts State Visionary Herzl in his later years, but also during his rough and tumble days as a Viennese student; novel juxtaposes Herzl's story with that of a young Russian boy escaping pogroms in 1882 Russia.
PARIS—A graphic novel published in France depicts the life story of Visionary of the State Theodor Herzl combined with the story of a Russian boy escaping the horrors of pogroms, tracking the background of the birth of Herzl's Zionist vision while also shining a light on Jewish life at the time.
The creators of the graphic novel, a Russian and a French Jew, combined the story of Ilia Brodsky, a boy who together with his sister escaped the pogroms of 1882 Russia, with the story of Herzl and recreated both the iconic image of the visionary standing in the balcony of a Basel hotel, but also scenes from the Austrian's raucous student life in Vienna.
"I wanted to reconnect with my Jewish heritage in the Diaspora, between Europe and the Ottoman Empire," writer Camille de Toledo explained. He had been working on the story for the past 16 years, but felt Israel's 70th Independence Day was the right moment to publish the work.
"From a seventy year perspective, it's easier to ascertain the difference between dream and reality," he said.
The comic book's illustrator Alexander Pavlenko left Russia in 1992 to "escape anti-Semitism," as he described it. "During our work we have seen many of the situations described therein beginning to repeat themselves," he told.
It should be noted the book, simply titled "Herzl – A European History", is not the first drawn depiction of Israel's seer. Ephraim Moses Lilien, one of the founders of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and Herzl's personal friend, not only photographed the visionary on the Swiss balcony but also used his facial features for portraits of Moses and Joshua.