A Novel of World War I

Book - 2014
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"Jean Dartemont, the hero of Gabriel Chevallier's autobiographical novel, enters what was not yet known as World War I in 1915, when it was just beginning to be clear that a war that all the combatants were initially confident would move swiftly to a conclusion was instead frozen murderously in place. After enduring the horrors of the trenches and the deadly leagues of no-man's-land stretching beyond them, Jean is wounded and hospitalized. Away from the front, he confronts the relentless blindness of the authorities and much of the general public to the hideous realities of modern, mechanized combat. Jean decides he must resist. How? By telling the simple truth. Urged to encourage new recruits with tales of derring-do service, Jean does not mince words. What did he do on the battlefield? He responds like a man: 'I was afraid.' Acclaimed as 'the most beautiful book ever written on the tragic events that blood-stained Europe' for five years, prosecuted on first publication as an act of sedition, Fear appears for the first time in the United States in Malcolm Imrie's poetic and prizewinning translation on the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, the conflict with which the twentieth century came into its own. Chevallier's masterpiece remains, in the words of John Berger, 'a book of the utmost urgency and relevance'"--
Publisher: New York : New York Review of Books, [2014]
Copyright Date: ©2011
ISBN: 9781590177167
Branch Call Number: F Che
Additional Contributors: Imrie, Malcolm - Translator
Berger, John


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Sep 17, 2018

Along with Frederic Manning's The Middle Parts of Fortune, first published in the same year, 1929, Chevallier's Fear is the best novel giving the private infantryman's perspective on the great war. All Quiet on the Western Front grabbed the popular readership first and much more thoroughly because it is more simply written and less psychologically penetrating a portrait of its protagonist. There was also holding the two year-later and better books back the facts that Manning's book was first privately published and only generally published in the mid-Thirties in an expurgated edition under the (possibly more forceful) title, Her Privates We, shortly before its author died; while Chevallier's was suppressed by the French government during WWII and not returned to print until several years after that conflict. And then, it remained untranslated until 2011. Anyone who knows and reveres All Quiet well may find Fear as or more impressive covering the same terrain (literally) on its other, western and/or southern, side. The only reservation I have about Fear in this edition is the translator's occasional faux pas, especially in subject-verb agreement. --Ray Olson


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