Home > Uncategorized > William Faulkner: To militarists, all civilians, even their own, are alien intruders

William Faulkner: To militarists, all civilians, even their own, are alien intruders

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

American writers on peace and against war

William Faulkner: There is only the question: When will I be blown up?

Thomas Mann: William Faulkner’s love for man, protest against militarism and war

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William Faulkner
From A Fable (1954)

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[Posted with fair use understanding and with the sole intent of acquainting those not already familiar with the matter William Faulkner’s view of war. Despite the complex and often challenging narrative style and structure, all who can afford to are encouraged to purchase the novel from which the excerpts are taken.]

Then the sergeant saw it too, the cloth he wore. Turning and looking back, not only at the man who had spoken but at all the faces surrounding him, it seemed to him that he was looking, out of a sort of weary, prolonged, omniscient grief and sorrow so long borne and accustomed that, now when he happened to remember it, it was no longer even regret, at the whole human race across the insuperable barrier of the vocation and livelihood to which twenty years ago he had not merely dedicated but relinquished too, not just his life but his bones and flesh; it seemed to him that the whole ring of quite attentive faces was stained with a faint, ineradicable, reflected horizon-blue. It had always been so; only the tint had changed – the drab and white of the desert and the tropics, the sharp red-and-blue of the old uniform, and now the chameleon-azure of this present one since three years ago. He had expected that, not only expected, but accepted, relinquishing volition and the fear of hunger and decision to the extent of even being paid a few sure sous a day for the privilege and right, at no other cost than obedience and the exposure and risk of his tender and brittle bones and flesh, of immunity forever for his natural appetites. So for twenty years now he had looked at the anonymous denizens of the civilian world from the isolation, insulation, of that unchallengeable immunity, with a sort of contempt as alien intruders, rightless, on simple sufferance, himself and his interknit and interlocked kind in the impregnable fraternity of valor and endurance breasting through it behind the sharp and cleaving prow of their stripe and bars and stars and ribbons, like an armoured ship (or, since a year ago now, a tank) through a shoal of fish. Looking about him at the waiting faces…it seemed to him with a kind of terror that it was himself who was the alien, and not just alien but obsolete; that on that day twenty years ago, in return for the right and the chance to wear on the battle-soiled breast of his coat the battle-grimed symbolical candy-stripes of valor and endurance and fidelity and physical anguish and sacrifice, he had sold his birthright in the race of man…

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‘And now General of Division Gragnon is bringing the whole lot of them back here to ask the Generalissimo to let him shoot them, since that much peace and silence, falling without warning on the human race – “

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