Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, January 4, 2016

Recommended: Sentimental Poilu Postcards

From Bradley Omanson's: 
History & Lore of the Old World War: Artifacts & Odd Bits from 1914–1918

Each country had its own distinctive postcards, of course, including the Germany, but French postcards stand out from all the others and were especially popular. Given the miserable and unrelenting drabness of life at the front, these inexpensive trifles of charm and color, easily available in estaminets and stationary shops behind the lines, may well have seemed irresistible to soldiers just out of the trenches.

It is hardly necessary to point out the immeasurable distance between the fantasized image of the Poilus in these cards— with their scrubbed male models wearing immaculately laundered and pressed uniforms against picturesque battlefield backdrops in pleasing pastels—and the actual mud-encrusted, lice-infested Poilus they supposedly portrayed. These cards were fantasy, pure and simple. . . 

Read the complete article here:


  1. This blog and article came just at the right time--as I finish reading Chevallier's riveting novel/memoir La Puer (Fear). Will be reviewing it here soon. DBeer

  2. Fabulous post and article. I find the French postcards a whimsical, imaginative way of transforming the horrors of war into something one could cope with -- not too different from some of the British war poetry that focused on the natural world (Ledwidge, Thomas, etc.).