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French writers on war and peace

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

French and other French-language writers on war and peace

Alain: Why is there war?

Amiel on war

Louis Aragon: Selections on war

Louis Aragon: Caravans of Peace

Louis Aragon: Children scattering flowers will some day scatter deadly flowers, grenades

Louis Aragon: The military: parasite and defender of parasitism

Louis Aragon: The peace that forces murder down to its knees for confession

Louis Aragon: War and its gloomy procession of storm clouds, sacred rites, illusions and lies

Louis Aragon: War, signal for the coming massacre of the sacrificial herd

Marcel Aymé: A child’s view of war

Balzac: Mass executions: Has Europe ever ceased from wars?

Jules Barbey D’Aurevilly: The jackals of war

Henri Barbusse: Selections on war

Henri Barbusse: All battles spring from themselves and necessitate each other to infinity

Henri Barbussse: As long as the colors of uniforms cover the flesh of men

Henri Barbusse: The awful power of a dead man

Henri Barbusse: Blood-stained priest of the God of War

Henri Barbusse: Butchery as far as the eye can see

Henri Barbusse: Cold death sits brooding, great and sumptuous bird of prey is in the act of taking wing

Henri Barbusse: Crows eddying round naked flesh with flapping banners and war-cries

Henri Barbusse: The enemy is militarism and no other

Henri Barbusse: Flags and swords, instruments of the cult of human sacrifice

Henri Barbusse: The goddess of slaughter, the world worn out by war

Henri Barbusse: I will wage war, even though I alone may survive

Henri Barbusse: Jesus on the battlefield

Henri Barbusse: Manual laborers of war glutting the cannon’s mouth with their flesh

Henri Barbusse: The mournful hearse of the army razes harshly

Henri Barbusse: Murder enters as invisibly as death itself. Industry multiplies its magic.

Henri Barbusse: The only cause of war is the slavery of those whose flesh wages it

Henri Barbusse: Pay for a glory which is not yours or for ruins that others have made with your hands

Henri Barbusse: “Perhaps it is the last war of all”

Henri Barbusse: Sepulchral sculptor’s great sketch-model, the gate of hell

Henri Barbusse: Soldier’s glory is a lie, like every other fine-looking thing in war

Henri Barbusse: “That’s war. It’s not anything else.”

Henri Barbusse: There will be nothing else on the earth but preparation for war

Henri Barbusse: These murdered souls, covered with black veils; they are you and I

Henri Barbusse: Torture…agony…human sacrifices…

Henri Barbusse: Under Fire

Henri Barbusse: War, as hideous morally as physically

Henri Barbusse: War befouls the country as it does faces and hearts

Henri Barbusse: “War must be killed; war itself”

Henri Barbusse: War which breeds war, whether by victory or defeat

Henri Barbusse: War’s loathsome horror and lunacy

Henri Barbusse: “We must have a new Ministry: a new public opinion: War.”

Henri Barbusse: The world has come to the end of its strength: it is vanquished by wars

Henri Barbusse: “You understand, I’m against all wars”

Julien Benda: Military mysticism

Béranger: When from the miseries of war we wake…

Georges Bernanos: Wars like epidemics, with neither beginning nor end

León Bloy: The Sword

Pierre Boulle: The long reach of war profiteers

Albert Camus: Where war lives. The reign of beasts has begun.

Chateaubriand: Would-be master of the world who knew only how to destroy

Victor Cherbuliez and Erich Fromm: Wars are outbursts of destructiveness and paranoid suspicion

Michel Corday: Selections from The Paris Front

Michel Corday: Blood! Blood! But there is still not enough.

Michel Corday: The everlasting glorification of murder

Michel Corday: War, the most brutal heritage of the past

Michel Corday: In war fathers bury their sons

Michel Corday: War sentiment is general dementia, barbarous and neolithic

Michel Corday: Millions of men killed to cure a single hypochondriac

Michel Corday: War – hell let loose, butchery, a return to barbarism

Michel Corday: War is irreparable loss for the earth and the human race

Michel Corday: The hideous futility of war in itself

Michel Corday: Future description of these horrors ought to make any return of war impossible

Michel Corday: Striking against war

Michel Corday: The Truth is the chief victim of war

Michel Corday: Glorification of slaughter is the beginning of future armaments

Michel Corday: The plague that comes in war’s train

Alphonse Daudet: Revenge and war

Maurice Druon: A contempt for all things military

Maurice Druon: The dual prerogatives of minting coins and waging wars

Guillaume de Saluste Du Bartas: Breaking oaths of peace, cover the fields with bloody carcasses

Georges Duhamel: Selections on war

Georges Duhamel: The demon of war had imprisoned us under his knee

Georges Duhamel: The Fleshmongers, War’s Winnowing Basket

Georges Duhamel: Mosaic of pain stained with mud and blood, the colours of war

Georges Duhamel: No end to war without moral reeducation

Georges Duhamel: No man desires war…but if there’s money to be made…

Georges Duhamel: The possession of the world is not decided by guns. It is the noble work of peace.

Georges Duhamel: The stupid machine of war throws out, from minute to minute, bleeding men

Georges Duhamel: The Third Symphony, a slender bridge across the abyss

Georges Duhamel: War and civilization

Georges Duhamel: War has achieved the mournful miracle of denaturing nature, rendering it ignoble and criminal

Georges Duhamel: Who has taught children of man that war brings happiness?

Georges Duhamel: World where now there are more graveyards than villages

Alexandre Dumas: The dove

Maurice Duplay: Colloquy on science and war

Maurice Duplay: Imperative to uproot the passion of war

Marguerite Duras: The civilizing mission

Jean Dutourd: The horrors of war

Paul Éluard: True law of men despite the misery and war

Erckmann-Chatrian: In a century the war gods will be recognized as barbarians

Erckmann-Chatrian: In war belligerents conspire against their own citizens

Fénelon: War is the most dreadful of all evils by which heaven has afflicted man

Gustave Flaubert and George Sand: Monstrous conflicts of which we have no idea; warfare suppressed or civilization perishes

Anatole France: Selections on war

Anatole France: Attack the monster that devours our race; make war on war, a war to the death

Anatole France: Barracks are a hideous invention of modern times

Anatole France: Brutal impulse which has led and still leads one half of humanity to destroy the other

Anatole France: Ceaselessly repeating that war is abominable, avoiding all the tortuous intrigues which might provoke it

Anatole France: Country living under shadow of war is easy to govern

Anatole France: Education and War

Anatole France: Emerging painfully from primitive barbarism, war

Anatole France: The ethics of war

Anatole France: Financiers only wanted colonial wars and the people did not want any wars at all

Anatole France: “He left us impoverished and depopulated, but he gave us glory”

Anatole France: How the U.S. Congress deliberates on wars

Anatole France: In civilised nations the glory of massacre is the greatest glory known

Anatole France: Letter to an advocate of “peace with victory”

Anatole France: Military service the most terrible pest of civilised nations

Anatole France: Modern Romans, the Americanization of the world

Anatole France: No one has right to kill, just man will refuse to draw his number for war

Anatole France: Nobel Prize speech

Anatole France: Only two ways out of militarism – war and bankruptcy

Anatole France: Restoring order by means of theft, rape, pillage, murder and incendiarism

Anatole France: To avert the danger of peace breaking out…

Anatole France: The tutelary gods of world war

Anatole France: Wait till the warriors you make gods of swallow you all up

Anatole France: War brings to the victor himself but ruin and misery, is nothing but a horrible and stupid crime

Anatole France: War, burlesque masquerade in which fatuous patriots sing stupid dithyrambs

Anatole France: War debases man beneath the level of ferocious beasts

Anatole France: War is committing all crimes by which an individual dishonours himself: arson, robbery, rape, murder

Anatole France: War is the last redoubt of oligarchy, plutocracy

Anatole France: Wars fought over territorial acquisition, commercial rivalries

Anatole France: “What you call murder and robbery may really be war and conquest, sacred foundations of empires”

Anatole France: Whether civil or foreign, war is execrable

Anatole France: Why should not humanity abolish the law of murder?

Anatole France on Victor Hugo: People to substitute justice and peace for war and bloodshed

Anatole France on Émile Zola, military terrorism and world peace

Anatole France and Michel Corday: The press fans the flames of war’s blast furnace

Anatole France and Michel Corday: Threat of annihilation in gigantic Armageddon

Anatole France and Michel Corday: War is a crime, for which victory brings no atonement

André Gide: Transformation of a war supporter

Jean Giono: Led to the slaughterhouse

Jean Giono: Rats and worms were the only living things

Jean Giono: War, nourishment and dismemberment

Jean Giono: War! Who’s the madman in charge of all this? Who’s the madman who gives the orders?

Remy de Gourmont: Getting drunk at the dirty cask of militarism

José-Maria de Heredia: Drunk with dreams that brutal conquests bring

Victor Hugo: Selections on war

Victor Hugo: The black eagle waits with claws outspread

Victor Hugo: The face of Cain, hunters of men, sublime cutthroats

Victor Hugo: War, made by humanity against humanity, despite humanity

Victor Hugo: Glorious war does not exist; peace, that sublime, universal desire

Victor Hugo: Brute war, dire birth of hellish race

Victor Hugo: International Peace Congress 1851

Joseph Joubert on war: All victors will be defeated

Joseph Kessel: In my family, war is in the blood…the blood of others

Joseph Kessel: The monstrous ululation of an air-raid siren

Joseph Kessel: War’s ultimate fratricide, killed for not killing

La Bruyère on the lust for war

La Fontaine: When shall Peace pack up these bloody darts?

José-André Lacour: War’s sanguinary peacock

Jacques de Lacretelle: War’s atavistic brigands

Lamartine: The republic of peace

Marie Lenéru: War is not human fate

Maurice Maeterlinck: Bloodshed, battle-cry and sword-thrust are the joys of barbarians

Jacques Maritain: What good one can expect from such a war and its pitiless prolongation?

Roger Martin du Gard: Selections on war

Roger Martin du Gard: From Nobel Prize in Literature speech

Roger Martin du Gard: All the pageantry of war cannot redeem its beastliness

Roger Martin du Gard: “Anything rather than the madness, the horrors of a war!”

Roger Martin du Gard: Be loyal to yourselves, reject war

Roger Martin du Gard: Deliberately infecting a country with war neurosis

Roger Martin du Gard: “Drop your rifles. Revolt!”

Roger Martin du Gard: General strike for peace

Roger Martin du Gard: A hundredth part of energy expended in war could have preserved peace

Roger Martin du Gard: How make active war on war?

Roger Martin du Gard: Launch against the war-mongers a concerted movement to force the governments to bow to your desire for peace

Roger Martin du Gard: No more dangerous belief can take root in the mind than the belief that war’s inevitable

Roger Martin du Gard: Nothing worse than war and all it involves

Roger Martin du Gard: Romain Rolland

Roger Martin du Gard: Secret commitments which from one day to another may plunge you, every man of you, into the horrors of war

Roger Martin du Gard: A thousand times more honor in preserving peace than waging war

Roger Martin du Gard: Tragedy of war, like that of Oedipus, occurs because warnings are ignored

Roger Martin du Gard: War breeds atmosphere of lies, officials lies

Roger Martin du Gard: War is at our gates, dooming millions of innocent victims to suffering and death

Roger Martin du Gard: War’s “serviceable lie” costs tens of thousands of lives

Roger Martin du Gard: When you refer to war, none of you thinks of the unprecedented slaughter, the millions of innocent victims it involves

Guy de Maupassant: Selections on war

Guy de Maupassant: The army, murdering those who defend themselves, making prisoners of the rest, pillaging in the name of the Sword

Guy de Maupassant: The Horrible

Guy de Maupassant: How and why wars are plotted

Guy de Maupassant: I do not understand how these murderers are tolerated walking on the public streets

Guy de Maupassant: I only pray that our sons may never see any wars again

Guy de Maupassant: Military hysteria, military presumptuousness

Guy de Maupassant: Why does society not rise up bodily in rebellion at the word “war”?

Albert Memmi: So the war had caught up with us, a celebration in honor of death

Prosper Mérimée: To the shame of humanity, horrors of war have their charm

Robert Merle: The present war, and all the previous wars, and all the wars to come

Robert Merle: There’s no such thing as a just or sacred war

Octave Mirbeau: All these wan faces, all these bodies already vanquished – toward what useless and bloody slaughters?

Octave Mirbeau: It was not enough that war should glut itself with human flesh, it was necessary that it should also devour beasts, the earth itself, everything that lived in the calm and peace of labor and love

Octave Mirbeau: An orgy of destruction, criminal and foolish. What was this country, in whose name so many crimes were being committed?

Octave Mirbeau: Stupidly, unconsciously, I had killed a man whom I loved, a man with whom my soul had just identified itself

Octave Mirbeau: A sudden vision of Death, red Death standing on a chariot, drawn by rearing horses, which was sweeping down on us, brandishing his scythe

Montaigne: Selections on war

Montaigne: Blood on the sword: From slaughter of animals to slaughter of men

Montaigne: God would not favor so unjust an enterprise as insulting and quarreling with another nation for profit

Montaigne: The ignominy of lopsided military conquest

Montaigne: Invasion concerns all men; not so defense: that concerns only the rich

Montaigne: It is enough to dip our pens in ink without dipping them in blood

Montaigne: Monstrous war waged for frivolous reasons

Montaigne: This furious monster war

Montaigne: War, that malady of mankind

Montaigne: War’s fury

Montesquieu: Distemper of militarism brings nothing but public ruin

Montesquieu: Military glory leads to torrents of blood overspreading the earth

Montesquieu: Wars abroad aggravate conflicts at home

Henry de Montherlant: A constant state of crime against humanity

Paul Morand: The magic disappearance of ten millions of war dead

Paul Morand: Nations never lay down their arms; death which is still combative

Paul Morand: The War for Righteousness ends in the burying of moral sense

Charles Morice: Woe to you enemies of peace

Alfred de Musset: “No, none of these things, but simply peace.”

Paul Nizan: War completely assembled, like a mighty engine

Charles Nodier: Fruitless is the glory of battles

Charles Nodier: Painful to the eyes and the heart of he who cherishes liberty

Georges Ohnet: Pillaging in the wake of victorious armies

Zoé Oldenbourg: War provides a feast for the vultures

Pascal on war: An assassin if he kills in his own country, a hero if in another

Charles Péguy: Cursed be war, cursed of God

Benjamin Péret: Little song for the maimed

Vladimir Pozner: Mars and Ceres

Marcel Proust: Every day war is declared anew

Edgar Quinet: The soul of man has vanished, nations and races are doomed to combat and destroy each other

C.F. Ramuz: Little by little the war spreads

Arthur Rimbaud: Evil

Emmanuel Roblès: Respect is first due to the living

Romain Rolland: Selections on war

Romain Rolland: A father’s plea against war

Romain Rolland: The abominable war crimes of intellectuals

Romain Rolland: Above The Battle

Romain Rolland: Against grasping imperialism and inhuman pride, military caste and megalomania of pedants

Romain Rolland: America and the war against war

Romain Rolland: Ara Pacis and Ave, Caesar, Morituri Te Salutant

Romain Rolland: Centuries to recreate what war destroys in a day

Romain Rolland: The collective insanity, the terrible spirit of war

Romain Rolland: Content with having said “No!” to war

Romain Rolland: The enormous iniquity, the ignoble calculations of war

Romain Rolland: Goddess of prey, Anti-Christ, hovering over butcheries with spread wings and hawk’s talons

Romain Rolland: Hatred and holy butchery; the deadly sophistry, carnivorous poetry of war

Romain Rolland on Leo Tolstoy: How is it they are able to retain the lust of destroying their fellows?

Romain Rolland on Henri Barbusse: The isolated bleating of one of the beasts about to die

Romain Rolland: The life that would have been, the life that was not going to be

Romain Rolland: Message to America on the will to conquer the world

Romain Rolland: Not enough that nations are destroyed, they are bidden to glorify Death, to march towards it with songs

Romain Rolland: Our Neighbor the Enemy

Romain Rolland: Pacifism only allowed when it is not effective

Romain Rolland: Peace and war are in the hands of those who hold the purse-strings

Romain Rolland: Real peace demands that the masters of war be eliminated

Romain Rolland: Reawakening of old instincts of national pride, lapping of blood

Romain Rolland: Recurrence of the hell of war

Romain Rolland: To the Murdered Peoples

Romain Rolland: To the undying Antigone; waging war against war

Romain Rolland: Totalizing, to their personal profit, the ruin of all nations

Romain Rolland: War, a divine monster; half-beast, half-god

Romain Rolland: War, a pathological fact, a plague of the soul

Romain Rolland: War and the factories of intellectual munitions and cannon

Romain Rolland: War enriches a few, and ruins the community

Romain Rolland: When we defend war, dare to admit we are defending slavery

Romain Rolland: Where to rebuild the world after war?

Romain Rolland: Youth delivered up to the sword of war

Jules Romains: Selections on war

Jules Romains: Colloquy on God and war

Jules Romains: Communion of saints opposing war’s mutual massacre, human sacrifice

Jules Romains: Condign punishment for war profiteers and professional patriots

Jules Romains: Deadening effects of war on human sensibilities, defeat of civilization by barbarism

Jules Romains: Destruction of war itself, its deletion from the pages of history

Jules Romains: Distinguishing characteristic of modern warfare is that it will never come to an end of itself

Jules Romains: Fraternization versus fratricide, the forbidden subject of peace

Jules Romains: If mankind could put two and two together, there’d be no more war

Jules Romains: Just kill because the more dead there are, the fewer living will remain

Jules Romains: Romantic view of war played a dirty trick on the warriors

Jules Romains: Squalidly degrading everything that the civilization of mankind had created

Jules Romains: Unnatural war will only stop when everybody, on both sides, is killed

Jules Romains: War means a golden age for the munitions makers

Jules Romains: War: symphony of death, vast pudding concocted of corpses

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

Jules Romains: War under modern conditions has need of everything that man produces

Ronsard: Far away from Europe and far from its wars

Rousseau: The State of War

Claude Roy: Great wars and those which kill just as effectively

Gabrielle Roy: This was the hope that was uplifting mankind once again: to do away with war

Jules Roy: Any attempt to escape the universal holocaust would mean being hunted and tortured wherever he went

Saint-Exupéry: Charred flesh of children viewed with indifference

George Sand: Trader in uniformed flesh and the religion of self

Jean-Paul Sartre: They lift their heads and look up at the sky, the poisonous sky

Jean-Paul Sartre: When staging a massacre, all soldiers look alike

Jean-Paul Sartre: When the rich fight the rich, it is the poor who die

Senancour: Lottery of war amid heaps of the dead

Stendhal: Dreaming of the Marshall and his glory…

Stendhal: You’ve got to learn the business before you can become a soldier

Stendhal and Byron: Military leprosy; fronts of brass and feet of clay

Eugène Sue: War, murder by proxy

Hippolyte Taine on the inhuman travesty of war

Henri Troyat: Selections on war

Henri Troyat: All humanity passing through a crisis of destructive madness

Henri Troyat: Nothing grand, nothing noble, in the universal slaughter

Henri Troyat: Shedding blood for the motherland: War is ugly and absurd

Henri Troyat: So many men killed, so many towns burned…for a telegram

Henri Troyat: Thoughts stop with a shock: War!

Henri Troyat: Tolstoy’s visceral detestation of war

Henri Troyat: War, that greatest of political crimes

Henri Troyat: “Will a day ever come when there’s no more war, no more lies, no more tragedy!”

Paul Vaillant-Couturier: The Song of Craonne

Paul Valéry on global conflicts, Europe governed by American commission

Jules Vallès: I hate war and its sinister glory

Roger Vercel: Boats built for men to live in, ships built to kill

Vercors: Are war crimes only committed by the vanquished?

Émile Verhaeren: I hold war in execration; ashamed to be butchers of their fellows

Paul Verlaine: The joy of sweet peace without victory

Alfred de Vigny: Selections on war

Alfred de Vigny: Admiration for military commander turns us into slaves and madmen

Alfred de Vigny: The army is a machine wound up to kill

Alfred de Vigny: It is war that is wrong, not we

Alfred de Vigny: War is condemned of God and even of man who holds it in secret horror

Alfred de Vigny: When armies and war exist no more

Voltaire: Selections on war

Voltaire: Armies composed of well disciplined hirelings who determine the fate of nations

Voltaire: Bellicose father or pacific son?

Voltaire: He did not put a sufficient number of his fellow creatures to death

Voltaire: Million regimented assassins traverse Europe from one end to the other, to get their bread by regular depredation and murder

Voltaire: One country cannot conquer without making misery for another

Voltaire: War

Marguerite Yourcenar: Fruits of war are food for new wars

Émile Zola: Selections on war

Émile Zola on war mania: A blind and deaf beast let loose amid death and destruction, laden with cannon-fodder

Émile Zola: Bloody pages of history, the wars, the conquests, the names of the captains who had butchered their fellow-beings.

Émile Zola: Encomiums on labor and peace

Émile Zola: The forge of peace and the pit of war

Émile Zola: Haunted by military matters

Émile Zola: The military, necessary apprenticeship for devastation and massacre

Émile Zola: One sole city of peace and truth and justice

Émile Zola: Prescription for a happy life in the midst of universal peace

Émile Zola: To what field of disaster would it be taken to kill men? what harvest of human lives would it reap?

Émile Zola: Vulcan in service to Mars

Émile Zola: War’s vast slaughterhouse

Émile Zola: Why armies are maintained

Émile Zola: Yes, war is dead. The world has reached its last stage. Brothers may now give each other the fraternal kiss.

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