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

Monday, August 2, 2021

Some Fictional Veterans Return Home

Benedict Cumberbatch as Tietjens

Christopher Tietjens (Discussed by his brother Mark)

He had felt a certain satisfaction in the fact that Christopher was going out, though he was confoundedly sorry too. He really admired Christopher for doing it–and he imagined that it might clear some of the smirchiness that must attach to Christopher’s reputation, in spite of what he now knew to be his brother’s complete guiltlessness of the crimes that had been attributed to him. He had, of course, been wrong—he had reckoned without the determined discredit that, after the war was over, the civilian population would contrive to attach to every man who had been to the front as a fighting soldier. After all, that was natural enough. The majority of the male population was civilian, and, once the war was over and there was no more risk, they would bitterly regret that they had not gone. They would take it out of the ex-soldiers all right!

From: Last Post, Ford Madox Ford

Richard Cromwell as Ludwig at a Veteran's Protest

Surviving Members of Paul Bäumer's Platoon

Because we were duped I tell you, duped as even yet we hardly realize; because we were misused, hideously misused. They told us it was for the Fatherland, and meant the schemes of annexation of a greedy industry. They told us it was for Honor, and meant the quarrels and the will to power of a handful of ambitious diplomats and princes. They told us it was for the Nation, and meant the need for activity on the part of out-of-work generals!. . .Can't you see? They stuffed out the word Patriotism with all the twaddle of their fine phrases, with their desire for glory, their will to power, their false romanticism, their stupidity, their greed of business, and then paraded it before us as a shining ideal! And we thought they were sounding a bugle summoning us to a new, a more strenuous, a larger life. Can't you see, man? But we were making war against ourselves without even knowing it!. . .

From: The Road Back, Erich Marie Remarque