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Old April 2 2014, 02:04 PM   #3476
Lonemagpie's Avatar
Location: Yorkshire
Re: So What Are you Reading?: Generations

Finished Gabriel Chevallier's La Peur, about World War 1, which seemed appropriate in this centenary year. Though better known for Clochemerle, Chevallier has written a pretty evocative and effective fictionalised memoir here, which I think actually outdoes Remarque's more famous All Quiet On The Western Front.

The story of a French soldier in WW1, It's by turns humourous, and moving, and very believable of course. I was surprised at how similar in structure it is to Sven Hassel's more infamous WW2 books, albeit with less sex, gore, and swearing. It has that same thing where characters tell stories from in between the episodes depicted, though Chevallier's narrative is a lot more upfront about these being tales he'd recorded from other people than Hassel's ever were. I did definitely come away with the impression, though, that Hassel has read this and consciously tried to do a more X-rated version of it.

Otherwise, it's a good read with a sympathetic character - except for a chapter of douchebaggery where he feels the urge to establish intellectual dominance over some nurses because he thinks that he, as a man, is inherent;y superior. To some degree the undoubtedly heartfelt refelctions of the nature of society at war do tend to slide into a sort of 1920s socialist propaganda tract, but that's of course a product of it's time - it was written in the 20s and published in 1930.

The last line, meant to be a final touch of humour, though, when written at the end of the 20s, is amazingly creepy when read in the post-Nazi era...

Anyway, I definitely recommend this one if you're looking for a spot of WW1 centenary reading.
"I got two modes with people- Bite, and Avoid"
Reading: Except The Dying (Maureen Jennings)

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