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Les Thibault, tome 3 by Roger Martin du Gard

Les Thibault, tome 3

by Roger Martin du Gard

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724. Summer 1914, by Roger Martin du Gard translated by Stuart Gilbert (read 16 Feb 1963) For months after I read this book its account recurred in my mind. It is as good an account of the frenzied days on 1914 in France as I have ever read. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jun 15, 2013 |
Summer 1914 brings the epic Les Thibaults novel to a close (1,800-odd pages in all) and also finishes off the Thibaults as a family.

When Summer 1914 opens, M. Thibault, racked by spasms of pain and terror, has died of convulsive uremia—a deathbed scene which Martin du Gard writes with the clean brutality of a clinical treatise. Jacques, matured and forceful, is a respected leader in a colony of revolutionists in Switzerland. He has decided that what he wants is a part in a revolutionary world change, but his soul is still troubled. He has a consuming pity for the mass of men, a great contempt for their rulers, but he lacks a blind faith in revolutionary slogans and formulas, and worse, he distrusts human nature, including that of revolutionists. "A man," he feels, "who is capable of ... brutal, bloodthirsty acts, and of calling them 'acts of justice,' such a man, when the battle's won, will never regain his decency. . . ."

Nevertheless, he joins an underground campaign of socialists all over Europe to prevent war. Dismayed at the sight of socialist spokesmen backsliding into patriotism, he hopes to the last for a miracle, a general strike—something. But the war begins and he loses his life in a last, wild, hallucinatory attempt to stop it. Then Author Martin du Gard hurdles clear over the war to 1918, when Antoine, mustard-gassed in medical service and dying of abscessed lungs, lives just long enough to see the Armistice.

Martin du Gard had a home in Normandy when the Germans invaded France. With his wife, who had a broken arm and shoulder in a plaster cast, he fled to the south of France. The Nazis thoroughly ransacked his Normandy house, but translator Stuart Gilbert, who was translating the last of Les Thibaults, managed to rescue the manuscript.
  vanpelten | Aug 15, 2011 |
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