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Marcel Aymé: Novel way to end a war

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

French writers on war and peace

Marcel Aymé: A child’s view of war

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Marcel Aymé
From The Problem of Summertime
Translated by Sophie Lewis

Civilians of all nations were growing gloomy and ill-tempered….The war was long. They didn’t know when it would end. But would it one day end? All sides believed they would triumph, but feared that it might take a while. Their leaders harboured the same fears and were beginning to bite their knuckles. The weight of their responsibilities made them blench. Of course, there was no question of a truce. Honour would not allow it, and there were other considerations too. It was infuriating, though, to know time was under their control and yet not find a way of making it work for them.

In the end, by means of a Vatican intervention, an international agreement was reached that delivered the peoples from the nightmare of the war without in any way affecting the ordinary outcome of the hostilities. It was quite simple. It was decided that, throughout the world, time would be put forward by seventeen years. This figure would encompass the most extreme possibilities for duration of the conflict. Nevertheless, officialdom remained concerned, fearing the advance would be insufficient. Thank goodness that when, by virtue of a decree, the world suddenly aged by seventeen years, it turned out that the war was indeed over. It also turned out that another war had not yet begun. It was merely on the cards.

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