Home > Uncategorized > Marcel Aymé: A child’s view of war

Marcel Aymé: A child’s view of war

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

Marcel Aymé
From The Transient Hour (Le Chemin des écoliers) (1946)
Translated by Eric Sutton

TraverseedeParis-photoMarcelAyme

Chou had as yet no conception of what an enemy or foreign country might be, and on the matter of Germans, her ideas were very summary. “German” was for her synonymous with “soldier,” and the fear or antipathy inspired in many people by the green uniforms was sufficiently explained by the military profession, which consisted of killing other people. In view of the professional wickedness of these green men, she did not dare to tell anyone that she was the daughter of a soldier, a German, and her mother did not seem very proud of the relationship, since she seldom mentioned it. Chou wondered why her father was a prisoner, whether he had killed too many people or too few…

***

“…I know, and I knew before the war, that suffering does not expand our hearts, and that great ordeals do not improve our characters. They drive us in upon ourselves and condemn us to the blackest and most joyless egotism…”

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