Home > Uncategorized > Jules Romains: War turns murder into a public and highly praiseworthy action

Jules Romains: War turns murder into a public and highly praiseworthy action

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

French writers on war and peace

Jules Romains: Selections on war

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Jules Romains
From Aftermath: Vorge Against Quinette (1939)
Translated by Gerard Hopkins

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Rimbaud’s prophetic phrase “Now is the time of the assassins!” would, it was argued, be fully justified. The war, by turning murder into a public and highly praiseworthy action, had dealt a mortal blow at all private initiative in crime.

“Crime,” maintained Fernand Gallot, “has suffered like every other trade. There was a shortage of technicians at home. All the murderers had been sent to the front – where they were found to make admirable raw material for heroes.”

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There were plenty of honest persons who might want to commit murder, but generally speaking, they had no time for such activities, and, even if they had, would find that indulgence in them was injurious to their business interests. That being so, they delegated to the so-called professional assassin any job of killing which they might want done. The more peaceable honest folk were, the more they abstained from doing any killing themselves, the greater was the number of professional assassins. This being so, there was no cause for surprise in the fact that four years of war had dried up the supply of domestic murder at the source.

“…I grant you, Vorge, that, taken all round, the war has had a monopoly of death: those whom it didn’t kill had no wish to kill themselves, nor had they sufficient vitality left to kill anybody else in a sudden access of rage. At the time same, there is a whole class of crimes for which conditions have been remarkably favourable, for which the war ushered in a golden age.”

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