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Le Feu

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  950 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
Les années 1915 et 1916 ont marqué, pour Henri Barbusse, des dates décisives. C'est en 1915 qu'il a vécu Le Feu dans les tranchées du Soissonnais, de l'Argonne et de l'Artois, comme soldat d'escouade, puis comme brancardier au 231e régiment d'infanterie où à s'était engagé. C'est en 1916, au cours de son évacuation dans les hôpitaux, qu'il a écrit son livre. Celui-ci, publ ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 412 pages
Published October 5th 1988 by Le Livre de Poche (first published 1916)
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Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 17, 2014 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-french, ww1
”Suddenly a fearful explosion falls on us. I tremble to my skull; a metallic reverberation fills my head; a scorching and suffocating smell of sulphur pierces my nostrils. The earth has opened in front of me. I feel myself lifted and hurled aside—doubled up, choked, and half blinded by this lightning and thunder. But still my recollection is clear; and in that moment when I looked wildly and desperately for my comrade-in-arms, I saw his body go up, erect and black, both his arms outstretched to ...more
Jan 10, 2014 Warwick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms, the central character, having been wounded on the Italian Front, escapes from the army and takes refuge in a hotel in the Alps. While there he meets an old acquaintance who interrogates him on the subject of war literature:

‘What have you been reading?’
‘Nothing,’ I said. ‘I'm afraid I am very dull.’
‘No. But you should read.’
‘What is there written in war-time?’
‘There is Le Feu by a Frenchman, Barbusse.’
[…] ‘Those books were at the hospital.’
‘Then you have been r
Apr 14, 2015 Ray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is an important book. It is quite short, at just under 300 pages, comprising a series of linked short stories about life in the French trenches during World War One.

I have not been a soldier but this book rings true to me in depicting the life of the "poilu" (literally "hairy one" - the French eqivalent of the British Tommy or poor bloody infantry). The war is nine parts drudgery and boredom to one part terror. Life in the trenches boils down to food, warmth and shelter, looking after your
Apr 23, 2016 [P] rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Make no mistake, in the event of war I would be a deserter. Although logically speaking you can’t desert something that you refuse to participate in; you have to engage, in even the most basic, superficial fashion before you can disengage. Whenever I attempt to explain my pacifism, and my attitude towards the military in general, I almost always receive the same, slightly sneering, response: what about the two world wars? It is the last card, the Ace up the sleeve, of the proud patriot. The sugg ...more
Brian Robbins
Apr 04, 2012 Brian Robbins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Under Fire

This is a remarkable book.

Barbusse makes vivid use of his own experiences as a soldier during the First World War, to bring alive the day-to-day existence of the rank and file men who served in the trenches. The subtitle “The Story of a Squad” & the dedication: “To the Memory of the Comrades who Fell by My Side at Crouy & on Hill 119”, indicate where his focus and his loyalties lie.

The content ranges widely across the troops experiences, from the boredom and trivialities of muc
This book is an essential, but too often ignored, read for anyone interested in World War I, the literature of that period, or war lit in general. As a piece of literature it was highly significant. Published in 1916, it was one of the first works to openly criticise the war and was a major influence on Siegfried Sassoon.
It tells the story of a group of ordinary French soldiers, drawing deeply on Barbusse's own experiences in the trenches. The structure is not a complete narrative, but instead
Apr 07, 2008 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: great-war
I cannot get my hands on enough material from the Inter-War Period. I admit that I have this problem. I love poilus.

This book has an interesting history of being dragged from fiction to non-fiction and back again. It was originally published in serial form in 1916, making it one of the only works ABOUT World War I to come out before the war itself was ended. Barbusse had at that time been wounded, pulled from the front and relegated to a job in the War Office; he was arguably able to depict more
sun surfer
Realistic and horrific account of a French WWI soldier and his squad in the trenches, written by a French WWI soldier from the trenches and published during the war. Told in a vignette style that verges on non-fiction memoir, the authentic insight into camp life and the soldiers’ stories and hopes were captivating but the battlefield sections were too graphic for me. Nevertheless, it’s an important novel.
Dec 05, 2014 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is one of the most graphic descriptions of the horror of The Great War that I have ever read.

I think it is worth pointing out that Barbusse also focuses on class divisions. Thus we have the "trench tourists" who are little more than curiosity seekers and those who have managed to obtain safe positions behind the lines. Both types arouse the indignation of the ordinary soldier. Then there is the contrast between the conditions of the trench-solkdiers as it is reported at home and as it
Apr 28, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I am not sure I have ever read a book which brings to life the realities, both the horrors and the banalities of trench warfare in WWI as well or as beautifully as this one. I read it in English translation, and some of the phrases and images are just heartstoppingly lovely. I would like to tackle the French version, although there is a lot of period slang. Every now and then, you come across a phrase of terrible irony, as when the soldiers muse that the fields have been shelled for weeks a ...more
Apr 27, 2014 Ursula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Semi-autobiographical and written from the notes Barbusse took while he was fighting in World War I, Under Fire is a boots-on-the-ground view of the war. And as even a glancing knowledge of war, and this war in particular, will tell you: it's not pretty. That doesn't mean that the writing can't be pretty, however. Within the first few pages of this book I'd made a note that said, "It's like a novel of Wilfred Owen poetry." I consider that high praise. Just like Owen, Barbusse chooses and layers ...more
Apr 28, 2015 Kamil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: First world war buffs
Did you know that Under Fire was banned on the Austro-Hungarian front, and its reading was punished by death?

There are no happy endings in Under Fire. The short story-like narrative is interlarded with horrid events, protruding from the despair all around; the reader knows there will be more as he reads on. And still, he does...

The book is all about atmosphere. I've had the fortune to read it during rainy series of days, which only improved the experience. Because aside from war, the central the
Sep 25, 2016 Shelley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing and at the same time nearly impossible to read. It is one of those books that you have to push yourself to slog through, just as the soldiers have to push themselves to slog through battle. The details of war, for the soldiers on the front lines, are what make this book amazing. The author is speaking from experience, and anyone who thinks they want to join the military is advised to read this book before signing up.

For those who can only take small doses of this stuff, I r
Jan 04, 2013 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Found this a bit difficult to get into at first because doesn't really read like a novel, more of a soldier's account, but once accustomed to the style found it brilliant. First published in 1916, very 'straight', unemotional/journalistic portrayal of the absolute horrors and appalling conditions endured by all those men in the first world war. Hard to think about my grandfathers (and everyone else's grandfathers or great grandfathers) experiencing that. I'm amazed that any of them managed to le ...more
Lucie Janků
Jul 20, 2013 Lucie Janků rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, reading-europe
Woow, this was pretty surprising! I'm not much into war literature, I just read it because I bought the book once in a sale for a ridiculous price. But now, after I finished, I'm just surprised and stunned. Let's start with the artistic side. It's written so well, the language is readable (unlike many other "classic authors") and descriptive part is so skilfully balanced with the story part. And about the story part - unbelievable. Everyone should read this at least once in their lives. These ar ...more
As I read this book, particularly the long and agonising section describing what it was like to be under fire, I couldn't help thinking about the early editors who found it necessary to tone down the swearwords, apparently under the impression that these would be more shocking than the great obscenity of the war itself.

My only disappointment with this book was the final chapter, which jarred with me. It didn't ring true after the stunning realism of the rest of the book.

Definitely a must read fo
This was a very different slant into the horrors of fighting in WWI. Barbusse depicts the lives of men who find themselves in the front line. They do not think of themselves as soldiers. There are many chapters on the mundane - their meals, trying to find somewhere to rest, endless debates on trivial issues just to past the time. Then there are chapters which are brutal in the men's experiences. I could not believe how relaxed they seemed, detached even. They hoped to survive but were very ambiv ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Pedro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Make sure your french is up to it before starting. Loved (and sweated all along) how Barbusse makes the soldiers so alive through their talk. A grittier 'All quiet in the western front' full of trench jargon and patois.
Oct 05, 2014 Bertrand rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am generally very wary of patois, créole and other celebration of idiolectic regionalism, as it can be found in French naturalist and late-romantic fiction; There is no doubt a part of ideology in that rejection, and a part of ignorance too, but in my experience vernacular dialogues generally tend to make up for uneventful conversation with exotic terminology. So when I engaged the six hundred pages of Barbusse’s “Le Feu” to find that the narrator (pretty much the only character who could be e ...more
Juli Rahel
Henri Barbusse was half French, half British and born in 1873. Compared to the other authors discussed up to now, he was quite old when he signed up for the French army at the age of 41. Although he was injured often, he served for 15 months until he was placed into a clerical position. He published Under Fire (Le Feu in the original French) in 1916, just after the end of the First World War, in which he describes his experiences fighting. Similarly to the other works, it is very harsh and natur ...more
Aug 23, 2014 Marks54 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book on the combat experiences in the trenches of a squad of French infantrymen (pollution) in WW1. Based on his diary, Barbusse chronicles the lives of his squad as they endure daily life in the trenches, trips home, and in the latter part of the book periods of extreme combat. The story is structured as a novel of sorts and divided up by chapters. The timeline is not always linear, however, and several chapters are devoted to particular topics or experiences. The book is well written a ...more
Brendan Hodge
Aug 16, 2013 Brendan Hodge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-great-war
Henri Barbusse's war novel Under Fire war written while the Great War was still raging. Barbusse had spend 1914-1915 in the trenches and was then wounded enough to be assigned a desk job. A prolific writer before the war, he wrote this novel, which provides a French enlisted man's view of the war, during 1915-1916 and it became an immediate best seller in France and (in translation) in England and America. Soldiers recommended it as a realistic portrayal of the war. This new translation out from ...more
Oct 17, 2013 Val rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: byt-by-year, byt-ww1
This was first published in 1917, during the First World War. Henri Barbusse was a soldier and served in the Front line, although he had been invalided out and was an administrator when he wrote this novel. It has the raw feel of experience and includes an excellent first-hand description of a battle (a French attack which is a success in military terms, but at a cost and ultimately of little value).
He mainly recounts the day to day experiences of a group of soldiers, in the line and out of it.
Apr 23, 2013 Ian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
Riveting account of life in the trenches for the ordinary French soldier in WWI. No gruesome detail is spared from the reader, nor the physical and mental energy required just to make it through a day. The author's small band of brothers do little more than exist, but their individual characters come out well in the writing. Remarkably, it was published actually during the war in 1916, which perhaps explains why Barbusse's invective is directed less against the bungling generals that hindsight m ...more
John Freeman
Apr 07, 2014 John Freeman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you read only one WWI-based novel for the centenary of the Great War, make that book Henri Barbusse's Under Fire. Few books capture the filth, boredom, monotony, camaraderie, gruelling fatigue, horror, and brutality of war as this one does.

Barbusse's battlefield descriptions defy belief, and seem as alien as the moon...and as featureless. But look at some pictures from the trenches and you will see that his descriptions are accurate and that other worldly is the only way to call it.
Philip Lane
Feb 03, 2013 Philip Lane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tremendous and important work. This book describes the experiences of front- line troops in the First World War and is a remarkably convincing account told from the point of view of the ordinary foot-soldier. The language is down to earth and believable as the language of the men at the time. The book was published in 1916 whilst the war was still in full swing and includes an appeal for war to end that echoes down the generations.
John Compton
Jul 25, 2015 John Compton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well written, an excellent critique of the stupidity of World War I, - the last couple of chapters are incredibly horrible.
Judith Rich
Feb 20, 2017 Judith Rich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite simply, this is a WW1 masterpiece. It's right up there with "All Quiet on the Western Front" and "Her Privates We".

No WW1 novel (and I've read a LOT - it's a period that interests me) has ever really brought home the foul swampy muddiness of the trenches until I read this - wounded soldiers actually drowning in mud rather than from their wounds, the rotting corpses, etc (and yuk).

I was pleased to learn the word "poilu" as the French equivalent of "Tommy" - I subsequently heard it being use
Soobie's heartbroken
Ho letto Il fuoco come parte integrante della mia lista di libri dedicati alla guerra e scritti da autori che vi hanno effettivamente partecipato. Non sono autori che glorificano la guerra, ma rendono onore alla gente che ha dovuto parteciparvi. Ciò che mi affascina di più di questi libri è come siano in grado di dimostrare che gli uomini possono sopravvivere all'inferno per poterlo raccontare.

Gli altri libri della lista sono.
1. Im Westen nichts Neues: ★★★★★
2. Un anno sull'altipiano: ★★★★
3. Il t
Carlos Casas
Feb 12, 2015 Carlos Casas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La obra narra el día a día de una escuadra francesa en el año 1916. Pese a estar narrado en primera persona, apelando mucho al uso del plural como un intento de englobar a los compañeros de trinchera, no parece tener ningún protagonista claro, y los personajes son simples hombres que se limitan a sobrevivir ante el desarrollo de unos acontecimientos que no pueden controlar. Es la narrativa de la pasividad, limitarse a padecer los altibajos de la guerra con la esperanza de sobrevivir al final de ...more
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Henri Barbusse (May 17, 1873, Asnières-sur-Seine—August 30, 1935, Moscow) was a French novelist and a member of the French Communist Party.

The son of a French father and an English mother, Barbusse was born in Asnières-sur-Seine, France in 1873. Although he grew up in a small town, he left for Paris in 1889 at age 16. In 1914, at the age of 41, he enlisted in the French Army and served against Ger
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“Déjà, le mois de septembre, lendemain d'août et veille d'octobre et qui est par sa situation le plus émouvant des mois parsème les beaux jours de quelques fins avertissements. Déjà, on comprend ces feuilles mortes qui courent sur les pierres plates comme une bande de moineaux.” 3 likes
“These are not soldiers, these are men. They are notadventurers or warriors, designed for human butchery - as butchers or cattle. They are the ploughmen or workers that one recognizes even in their uniforms. They are uprooted civilians. They are ready, waiting for the signal for death or murder, but when you examine their faces between the vertical ranks of bayonets, they are nothing but men.” 1 likes
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