Under Fire

Henri Barbusse

An acknowledged war classic, Under Fire follows the fortunes of a squad of French volunteers in WWI.
Publication date:
May 2016
Publisher :
Casemate Publishers
Language:
English
Series :
Casemate Classic War Fiction
Format Available     Quantity Price
Paperback
ISBN : 9781612003825

Dimensions : 190 X 132 cm
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£9.99

Overview
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• The inaugural season of Casemate's new Classic War Fiction series
• Only current trade edition of an acknowledged class
• With a glossary of vocabulary

Under Fire, first published in French as Le Feu, was one of the first novels about WWI, appearing in December 1916, before the outcome of the war was clear. Set in early 1916, it follows a squad of French volunteer soldiers through the eyes of an unnamed foot soldier, who participates in and also observes the action. It combines soaring, poetic descriptions with the mundane, messy, human reality of soldiers living in their own excrement. Then slowly names and features are given to the men who emerge from the mud, from the dignified leader Corporal Bertrand, to the ebullient Volpatte and the obsessive Cocon. Intermingled with details of how they navigate daily life in the putrified atmosphere of the trenches are both harrowing descriptions and a political, pacifist argument about this war and war more generally. Caught up in events they cannot control, the soldiers go through their daily routines: foraging for food, reading letters from wives and mothers, drinking, fighting in battle, and in heavily realistic scenes which the novel is noted for, discovering dead bodies in advanced stages of decomposition; the human detritus of a brutal conflict. Through it all, they talk about the war, attempting to make sense of the altered world in which they find themselves.
Under Fire drew criticism at the time of its publication for its harsh realism, but won the Prix Goncourt. The original translation by Fitzwater Wray which first appeared in 1917 is published here. It captures the essence of the era; a glossary is also provided to help with unfamiliar vocabulary.

REVIEWS

In contrast to many war novels which came before it, Under Fire describes war in gritty and brutal realism. It is noted for its realistic descriptions of death in war and the squalid trench conditions.
Books Monthly