Paul Morand: The War for Righteousness ends in the burying of moral sense
From The Living Buddha (1928)
Translated by Madeleine Boyd
His father, Comte d’Ecouen, was killed in the army, a volunteer at the age of sixty. Renaud d’Ecouen had heard the sound of the cannon, but not near enough to be deafened by it as his elders had been. He did not take part in the great war which marks the beginning of an age for some, and the end of a world for others….His memories of the war began with the disappearance of gold coin and ended with the burying of moral sense. He had been born in time to see gold money and its offspring, moral sense, buried. Placed face to face with 1914, as Musset or Vigny with the Napoleonic battles, he had their pessimism, but none of their admiration for what preceded them. He only knew – as to-day even the French know – that the massacre had been in vain, that seven years after nothing was left of the principles in the name of which the fighting had taken place, and that those principles were worn out with having been carried too long on the peaks of helmets. His father had died at Verdun after having killed a lot of small German landowners, who were more like him that anyone else in the world. Tears came to Renaud’s eyes when he thought of that sad end. The War for Righteousness seemed to him as confused as a railway accident. “My poor father lost his life in a terrible accident,” he would say.