This semi-autobiographical novel, recently rediscovered, is not a comfortable read.
Young Jean Dartemont entrains for the front in December 1914, driven less by any great sense of patriotism than sheer, youthful curiosity. His curiosity is tested to the full as he experiences the worst (and the best) that war can bring.
Wounded by shrapnel at the opening of an assault, and admitted to hospital where he is surrounded by some of the most appalling sights of damaged and wrecked humanity, he realises that what every man has in common is fear.
Gabriel Chevallier, best known for his magnificent novel Clochemerle, has used his experiences during the First World War to produce a work of great intensity, comparable to such great literary masterpieces of the period as Henri Barbusse’s Under Fire.