Antiwar literary and philosophical selections

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Henri Barbusse: Selections on war

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Henri Barbusse
From Chains (1924)
Translated by Stephen Haden Guest

Maria Ulyanova and Henrie Barbusse

The bodies around mine are each uglier than the next. Faced by the colours of putrefaction, I call on the secret night. In the grey dusk as in the north wind I call up before my eyes rosy tints, the warm colour as of a nude body of a woman veiled. I smell a scent of violets; there are somewhere beneath the gloom pensive tufts of them, and on the broken stones convolvuli completely shroud the nettles.

I have remained a long time dreaming…I am held by a hand; it was not dead when I came, but it died as it held me. When I separate the fingers the whole mass falls back. The death of a creature before one’s eyes makes it seem, miraculously…

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