19 June 2018

Lucien Jacques in Montjustin, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04)

In an article in Bibliobs of May 2016 it mentions the three great 'Gs', writers of the interwar years – Guéhenno, Giono and Guilloux – all of whom were sons of shoemakers. The article says an honorary addition should be made to this list: Lucien Jacques (1891–1961), who co-translated Moby-Dick with Giono. It calls Jacques one of the pillars of the Contadour pacifist movement: as a stretcher-bearer in the 161st infantry regiment, he'd known only too well the atrocities, stupidities and lies of war. He had known the barns stinking of cat piss; reveille (the bugle call) at two in the morning; 'pals' drunkenly puking up on each other; standing thigh-deep in mud in the trenches; the quicklime sprinkled on bodies before throwing them into a ditch. All this, he wrote in his 'Moleskin diaries'. A wonderful quotation: 'When you've not enough courage to be a pacifist you become a soldier.'

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