Under Fire – 100 years since the first World War began

Under Fire  by Henri Barbusse (2003 English translation was originally published in French as “Le Feu” in 1916)

Post by Janette from Southport Library.

Under FireHenri Barbusse, born in 1893 in France, was a volunteer in the First World War.

In 1914, he had no doubt that the French cause was that of humanity.

By early 1915, however, he had lost all idealized notions of war.

The horrors of this debacle were captured and mirrored in this critique, written during the war, and based on his own experiences.

Henri Barbusse subsequently became a pacifist, and the proceeds of the sale of this book went directly into the creation of ARAC, a veterans’ organization.

In this year of the centenary of the First World War’s beginning, should you take up this book, with its own weapons of truth, poetry, and the philosophical, rather than rewritten histories or hagiographic accounts, you will be taking up arms against the horrors of which humankind is capable.

There can be no more powerful recommendation for this book than to quote a passage, one among thousands, which grips the soul.

“All these men with their corpse-like faces, in front of us and behind, driven to exhaustion, emptied of words and will…….

All these men laden with earth, who, you could say, are carrying their own graves, are alike as if they were naked.

…It is the end of everything.”