First published in 1930, Fear graphically describes the terrible experiences of soldiers during World War I. It tells the story of Jean Dartemont, a young bourgeois who is called up in 1915. He is not a rebel, but as an intellectual, he is less awed by hierarchical authority. After an exceedingly short training period, he refuses to follow his platoon and is sent to Artois in the trenches. With absolute realism, Gabriel Chevallier depicts what he experienced everyday, for months: violence, the blood, death, the bodies...'Is that what war is about?' the conscript wonders. 'Their war', thinks Jean, that of the high command big shots, the politicians far from the lines of combat. One day, he is wounded, evacuated and hospitalized. To the nurses, who consider it their duty to stimulate the soldiers' fighting spirit, Jean, when asked what he did at the front, replied: 'I was afraid'.
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