Short summary - Under Fire - Henri Barbusse

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - Under Fire
Henri Barbusse

"War has been declared!" World War I.

"Our company is in reserve." “Our age? we are all of different ages. Our regiment is reserve; he was successively replenished with reinforcements - either cadre units or militias. " “Where are we from? From different areas. We have come from everywhere. " “What did we do? Yes, whatever you want. Who were we in the now marked times, when we still had some place in life, when we had not yet buried our fate in these holes, where rain and buckshot poured over us? Mostly by farmers and workers. " "There are no people of free professions among us." “The teachers are usually non-commissioned officers or orderlies,” “the lawyer is the colonel’s secretary; rentier - corporal, head of food in a non-combatant company. " "Yes, it's true, we are different." "And yet we are alike." "Bound by a common irreparable fate, reduced to one level, involved, against our will, in this adventure, we are becoming more and more like each other."

"You always wait in war." “Now we are waiting for the soup. Then we will wait for letters. " "Letters!" "Some have already settled down to write." “It is during these hours that people in the trenches become again, in the best sense of the word, what they once were.”

“What other news? The new order threatens with severe punishment for looting and already contains a list of those responsible. " “A wandering wine merchant passes, pushing a wheelbarrow on which a barrel sticks out like a hump; he sold a few liters to the sentries. "

The weather is awful. The wind knocks down, the water floods the earth. "It's almost impossible to live in the shed that was given to us in the parking lot, damn it!" "One half of it is flooded, rats are swimming there, and people are huddled in a heap on the other half." "And here you stand, like a pillar, in this pitch darkness, spreading your arms out so as not to bump into something, standing and shivering and howling from the cold." “Sit down? Impossible. Too dirty: the ground and stone slabs are covered with mud, and the straw litter is trampled by shoes and completely damp. " "There is only one thing left: stretch out on the straw, wrap your head with a handkerchief or towel to hide from the energetic stench of rotting straw, and fall asleep."

“In the morning,” “the sergeant is vigilant,” “so that everyone gets out of the barn,” “so that no one shirks away from work.” "Under the incessant rain, along a washed-out road, the second squad is already moving, assembled and sent to work by a non-commissioned officer."

"War is a mortal danger for everyone, there are no inviolable ones." "At the edge of the village" "a soldier of the 24th regiment was shot" - "he decided to evade, did not want to go into the trenches."

"Rubbed - originally from the Land." "Ours drove the Germans out of this village, he wants to see the places where he lived happily in those days when he was still a free man." "But the enemy is constantly bombarding all these places." “Why are the Germans bombarding the Suchet? Unknown. " "In this village there is no one and nothing else", except for "the bumps on which the grave crosses blackened here and there in the wall of fogs, they resemble the milestones of the Way of the Cross depicted in churches.

"On a dirty wasteland, overgrown with burnt grass, the dead are lying." “They are brought here at night, clearing the trenches or the plain. They have been waiting — many have been waiting for a long time — when they will be transferred to the cemetery, to the rear. " “Letters fly over the corpses; they fell out of pockets or pouches when the dead were laid on the ground. " "A disgusting stench blows over these dead men." "Hunched people appear in the fog", "These are porters loaded with a new corpse." "Everything emanates from universal destruction." "We are leaving". In these ghostly places, we are the only living beings.

"Although it is still winter, the first good morning announces to us that spring will come again soon." “Yes, the black days will pass. The war will also end, what is there! The war will probably end at this beautiful time of the year; it already illuminates us and caresses us with its breaths. " "True, we will be driven into the trenches tomorrow." “A dull cry of indignation is heard: -“ They want to finish us off! ” "In response, it sounds just as dull: -" Do not cry! "

"We are in an open field, amid boundless mists." "Instead of a road - a puddle." "We're moving on." "Suddenly, there, in the desert places where we are going, a star flares up and blooms: it is a rocket." “There is some kind of fluent light ahead: a flash, a crash. This is a projectile. " "He fell" into our lines. "The enemy is shooting." "They shoot with rapid fire." "There is a devilish noise all around us." “A storm of dull blows, hoarse, furious screams, piercing animal cries rages over the land, completely covered with wisps of smoke; we buried ourselves up to our necks; the earth rushes and sways from the whirlwind of shells. "

"... But a piece of green cotton wool, spreading in all directions, sways and melts over the firing zone." "The captives of the trench turn their heads and stare at this ugly object." "It's probably choking gases." "The meanest thing!"

“The fiery and iron whirlwind does not subside: shrapnel breaks with a whistle; large high-explosive shells rumble. The air thickens: someone's heavy breathing is cutting it; all around, in depth and breadth, the destruction of the earth continues. "

“Clear the trench! March!" "We are leaving this patch of the battlefield, where rifle volleys again shoot, wound and kill the dead." "We are being driven to rear cover." "The rumble of worldwide destruction subsides."

And again - "Let's go!" "Forward!"

"We are going beyond our barbed wire." “Along the entire line, from left to right, the sky is throwing shells, and the earth - explosions. A terrifying veil separates us from the world, separates us from the past, from the future. " "The breath of death pushes us, lifts us, rocks us." "Eyes blink, watery, go blind." "A flaming landslide ahead." "Behind them they shout, urge us on:" Forward, damn it! " "The whole regiment is following us!" We do not turn around, but, electrified by this news, "we advance even more confidently." "And suddenly we feel: it's all over." "There is no more resistance," "the Germans took refuge in holes, and we grab them like rats, or kill them."

“We are moving further in a certain direction. Probably, this movement was conceived somewhere out there, by the authorities. " “We step on soft bodies; some still move, groan and move slowly, bleeding. The corpses, piled up and down, like beams, crush the wounded, strangle, take their lives. " "The battle quietly subsides" ...

"Poor innumerable battle-workers!" "German soldiers" - "only unfortunate, disgustingly fooled poor people ..." years of war ". “And those who say:“ The peoples hate each other! ”,“ The war has always been, so it will always be! ”They pervert the great moral principle: how many crimes they have elevated to virtue, calling it national!” "They are your enemies, no matter where they were born, no matter what their name is, no matter what language they lie in." “Look for them everywhere! Get to know them well and remember them once and for all! "

"The cloud darkens and approaches the disfigured, exhausted fields." “The earth gleams sadly; the shadows move and are reflected in the pale, stagnant water that flooded the trenches. "The soldiers begin to comprehend the endless simplicity of being."

“And while we are going to catch up with the others to fight again, the black stormy sky is quietly opening slightly. A calm gap arises between the two dark clouds, and this narrow strip, so mournful that it seems to be thinking, is nevertheless the news that the sun exists. "