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Frank Harris: Henri Barbusse and the war against war

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Henri Barbusse: Selections on war

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Frank Harris
Excerpts from Henri Barbusse
From Latest Contemporary Portraits (1927)

The World War with its twenty millions of murdered human beings needed an avenging spirit, some one who would tell the truth and picture the horror, some great soul flaming with pity. Le Feu (“Under Fire”) of Henri Barbusse is the book we needed. Sensational books are nearly always bad books: this is a sensational book that is great because of its truth.

One would have thought that such a war would have produced a hundred reporters who would have shocked the world by merely telling what they had seen – the plain facts; yet only one man has attempted to do so.

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This man could surely stand in our time as the best type of the reformer. To him the war against war is the highest object of life. He told me that he wanted a big International of all former soldiers in all countries; it seems that there are a quarter of million members already in England and Germany and even more in Italy. “I want,” he says, “to create a pacifist organisation which shall embrace the whole world: I want to touch the soul of all peoples, and so create a friendly and brotherly feeling even among our late enemies; a solidarity of enthusiasm which shall make any future war impossible.”

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