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Henri Barbusse (1873 – 1935)


French novelist, journalist and communist.
Henri Barbusse
The eye is lost in all directions among the desolation where the multitude of men and women are hiding, as always and as everywhere.
That is what is. Who will say, "That is what must be!"
I have searched, I have indistinctly seen, I have doubted. Now, I hope.
Barbusse quotes
Moving in both directions, the street is full of dresses which sway, offering themselves airily, the skirts lifting; dresses which lift and yet do not lift.
In the tall and narrow shop mirror I see myself approaching, rather pale and heavy-eyed. It is not a woman I want it is all women. And I seek for them in those around me, one by one...
Barbusse
The truth is that the love of mankind is a single season among so many others. The truth is that we have within us something much more mortal than we are, and that it is this, all the same, which is all-important. Therefore we survive very much longer than we live. There are things we think we know and which yet are secrets. Do we really know what we believe? We believe in miracles. We make great efforts to struggle, to go mad. We should like to let all our good deserts be seen. We fancy that we are exceptions and that something supernatural is going to come along. But the quiet peace of the truth fixes us. The impossible becomes again the impossible. We are as silent as silence itself.




Barbusse Henri quotes
Each country whose frontiers are consumed by carnage is seen tearing from its heart ever more warriors of full blood and force. One's eyes follow the flow of these living tributaries to the River of Death. To north and south and west ajar there are battles on every side. Turn where you will, there is war in every corner of that vastness.
Barbusse Henri
The people who live my truth, what do they say when they speak of themselves? Does the echo of what I am thinking issue from their mouths, or error, or falsehood?
Henri Barbusse quotes
One sees their shadows stirring on the shining sad expanse of the plain, and reflected in the pallid stagnant surface of the old trenches, which now only the infinite void of space inhabits and purifies, in the center of a polar desert whose horizons fume.
But their eyes are opened. They are beginning to make out the boundless simplicity of things. And Truth not only invests them with a dawn of hope, but raises on it a renewal of strength and courage.
Henri Barbusse
There have been those who magnificently dared. There have been bearers of the truth, men who groped in the world's tumult, trying to make plain order of it. They discover what we did not yet know; chiefly they discover what we no longer knew.
Barbusse Henri quotes
The so-called inseparable cohesions of national interests vanish away as soon as you draw near to examine them. There are individual interests and a general interest, those two only. When you say "I," it means "I"; when you say "We," it means Man. So long as a single and identical Republic does not cover the world, all national liberations can only be beginnings and signals!
Barbusse
The universal problem into which modern life, as well as past life, rushes and embroils and rends itself, can only be dispersed by a universal means which reduces each nation to what it is in truth; which strips from them all the ideal of supremacy stolen by each of them from the great human ideal; a means which, raising the human ideal definitely beyond the reach of all those immoderate emotions, which shout together "Mine is the only point of view," gives it at last its divine unity. Let us keep the love of the motherland in our hearts, but let us dethrone the conception of Motherland.
I will say what there is to say: I place the Republic before France. France is ourselves. The Republic is ourselves and the others. The general welfare must be put much higher than national welfare, because it is much higher.
Barbusse Henri
What is there within us to-night? What is this sound of wings? Are our eyes opening as fast as night falls? Formerly, we had the sensual lovers' animal dread of nothingness; but to-day, the simplest and richest proof of our love is that the supreme meaning of death to us is leaving each other.
And the bond of the flesh neither are we afraid to think and speak of that, saying that we were so joined together that we knew each other completely, that our bodies have searched each other. This memory, this brand in the flesh, has its profound value; and the preference which reciprocally graces two beings like ourselves is made of all that they have and all that they had.
I stand up in front of Marie already almost a convert and I tremble and totter, so much is my heart my master:
"Truth is more beautiful than dreams, you see."
Henri Barbusse
Tradition reigns, the gospel of the blind adoration of what was and what is God without a head. Man's destiny is eternally blockaded by two forms of tradition; in time, by hereditary succession; in space, by frontiers, and thus it is crushed and annihilated in detail. It is the truth. I am certain of it, for I am touching it.




Henri Barbusse quotes
The spectacle of to-morrow is one of agony. Wise men make laughable efforts to determine what may be, in the ages to come, the cause of the inhabited world's end. Will it be a comet, the rarefaction of water, or the extinction of the sun, that will destroy mankind? They have forgotten the likeliest and nearest cause Suicide.
They who say, "There will always be war," do not know what they are saying. They are preyed upon by the common internal malady of shortsight. They think themselves full of common-sense as they think themselves full of honesty. In reality, they are revealing the clumsy and limited mentality of the assassins themselves.
The shapeless struggle of the elements will begin again on the seared earth when men have slain themselves because they were slaves, because they believed the same things, because they were alike.
Henri Barbusse
"Put an end to war?" say the watchers. "Forbid the Storm!"
Cleansed from the passions of party and faction, liberated from prejudice and infatuation and the tyranny of tradition, these watchers on the threshold of another world are vaguely conscious of the simplicity of the present and the yawning possibilities of the future.
Barbusse quotes
I am frozen by a mass which supports me. My elbow sinks into it. It is the horse's belly; its rigid leg obliquely bars the narrow circle from which my eyes cannot escape. Ah, it is dead! It seems to me that my breast is empty, yet still there is an echo in my heart. What I am looking for is life.
Barbusse Henri
The revelation still seems to me so terrible that the silence of men, heaped under the roofs down there at my feet, seizes and threatens me. And if I am but timidly formulating it within myself, that is because each of us has lived in reality more than his life, and because my training has filled me, like the rest, with centuries of shadow, of humiliation and captivity.
It is establishing itself cautiously; but it is the truth, and there are moments when logic seizes you in its godlike whirlwind.
Barbusse Henri quotes
You will do away with the military frontiers, and those economic and commercial barriers which are still worse. Protection introduces violence into the expansion of labor; like militarism, it brings in a fatal absence of balance. You will suppress that which justifies among nations the things which among individuals we call murder, robbery, and unfair competition. You will suppress battles not nearly so much by the direct measure of supervision and order that you will take as because you will suppress the causes of battle. You will suppress them chiefly because it is you who will do it, by yourself, everywhere, with your invincible strength and the lucid conscience that is free from selfish motives. You will not make war on yourself.
Henri Barbusse
We may no longer be able to count; but Fate will count. Some day the men will be killed, and the women and children. And they also will disappear they who stand erect upon the ignominious death of the soldiers, they will disappear along with the huge and palpitating pedestal in which they were rooted. But they profit by the present, they believe it will last as long as they, and as they follow each other they say, "After us, the deluge." Some day all war will cease for want of fighters.
Henri Barbusse quotes
She is one with me. Love it comes back to me. Love is an unhappy man and unhappy woman.
I awake uttering the feeble cry of the babe new-born.
Henri Barbusse
Once, when she was looking at me distressfully, she murmured, "You you've no more illusion at all. I pity you!"
At that moment, within the space of a flash, she was thinking of me only, and she pities me! She has found something in her grief to give me.
Barbusse Henri
That society is badly arranged which forces nearly all women to be servants. Marie, who is as good as I am, will have spent her life in cleaning, in stooping amid dust and hot fumes, over head and ears in the great artificial darkness of the house. I used to find it all natural. Now I think it is all anti-natural.


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