Over the Top, Neuville-Vitasse Painted by Alfred Bastien in 1918
Neuville-Vitasse was a heavily-fortified German village that anchored the Drocourt-Quéant Line. The 22nd Battalion attacked east of here in late August 1918. Georges Vanier, later the Governor General of Canada, always maintained that he was the officer holding the pistol in the front of the painting.
Beaverbrook Collection of War Art CWM 19710261-0056
Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust
Time Regained – War – excerpt 1
We previously posted an excerpt of Fighting France by Edith Wharton to provide first-hand insight into the realities of war, specifically the First World War, and in a post on Joel Alan Rich, related to Marcel Proust, provided a link that would take you to one of Rich’s essays on Proust’s attitude towards war in which we suggested that the fictional musings of a novelist who was a contemporary might venture closer to the truth than would the matter-of-fact recollections to be found in a memoir or a history book in any search for understanding.
I am now reading the seventh, and final, volume of Proust’s novel Remembrance of Things Past and I will be excerpting certain passages, as I come across them, in which Proust writes about the “War To End All Wars”. I hope that they will provide a reflection of that elusive element in human nature that seems to embrace, and certainly perpetuates (wars did not end), man’s affinity for murdering, in the name of first this, then that, his fellow man, always towards some better and nobler thing.
We open these posts with two excerpts; in the first, he has returned to Paris in 1916 after having spent two years in a sanatorium while in the second he has shifted the time back to 1914 and the beginning of the war.
Boilerplate Spoiler Alert: These excerpts, from near the end of Proust’s seven volume novel are bound to give away the plot and the fate of characters from the story; to avoid that you can download the (free) eBook for your eReader here or purchase the luddite format here. Better still, support your local book store, new or used, and set aside some time (Time?) to read Proust’s remarkable novel.
Excerpts come from source material available in HTML format here.