Cause célèbre  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A cause célèbre (plural causes célèbres) is an issue or incident arousing widespread controversy, outside campaigning and/or heated public debate. It is particularly used for famous long-running legal cases. It is a French phrase in common usage in English.

In French, cause means a legal case, and célèbre means "famous". The phrase originated with the 37-volume Nouvelles Causes Célèbres, published in 1763, which was a collection of reports of well-known French court decisions from the 17th and 18th centuries. While English speakers had used the phrase for many years, it came into much more common usage after the 1894 conviction of Alfred Dreyfus for espionage, which attracted worldwide interest.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Cause célèbre" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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