Home > Uncategorized > Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: War has tricked us

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: War has tricked us

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

French writers on war and peace

Saint-Exupéry: Charred flesh of children viewed with indifference

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Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
From Peace or War?
Translated by Adrienne Foulke

We must never forget that modern warfare trafficks in the bomb and in mustard gas. War is no longer delegated to a group that garners heroes’ laurels along the national frontier.

Let war be declared, and the next instant our stations, bridges, and factories will be pulverized. Our asphyxiated cities will retch and spew their populations over the countryside. Europe is an organism of two hundred million men. In the first moment of war, it will lose its entire nervous system, exactly as if it were burned out by acid; its control centers, regulatory glands. and semicircular canals will be one enormous cancer that will commence at once to corrode the whole. And how are two hundred million men to be fed? Grub as they will, they will never find roots enough.

Men can, of course, be stirred into life by being dressed up in uniforms and made to blare out chants of war. It must be confessed that this is one way to break bread with comrades and to find what they are seeking, which is a sense of something universal, of self-fulfillment. But of this bread men die.

In a world become a desert we thirst for comradeship. It is the savor of bread broken with comrades that makes us accept the values of war. But there are other ways than war to bring us the warmth of a race, shoulder to shoulder, toward an identical goal. War has tricked us. It is not true that hatred adds anything to the exaltation of the race.

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