Above the battle

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Above the Battle  (1916) 
by Romain Rolland, translated by Charles Kay Ogden






(Editor of The Cambridge Magazine)



First published on Feb. 28, 1916.

Second Edition, April, 1916.

(All rights reserved.)

"The fire smouldering in the forest of Europe was beginning to burst into flames. In vain did they try to put it out in one place: it only broke out in another. With gusts of smoke and a shower of sparks it swept from one point to another, burning the dry brushwood. Already in the East there were skirmishes as the prelude to the great war of the nations. All Europe, Europe that only yesterday was sceptical and apathetic, like a dead wood, was swept by the flames. All men were possessed by the desire for battle. War was ever on the point of breaking out. It was stamped out, but it sprang to life again. The world felt that it was at the mercy of an accident that might let loose the dogs of war. The world lay in wait. The feeling of inevitability weighed heavily even upon the most pacifically minded. And ideologues, sheltered beneath the massive shadows of the cyclops, Proudhon, hymned in war man's fairest title of nobility. ..."

"This, then, was to be the end of the physical and moral resurrection of the races of the West! To such butchery they were to be borne along by the currents of action and Passionate faith! Only a Napoleonic genius could have marked out a chosen, deliberate aim for this blind, onward rush. But nowhere in Europe was there any genius for action. It was as though the world had chosen the most mediocre to be its governors. The force of the human mind was in other things—so there was nothing to be done but to trust to the declivity down which they were moving. This both governors and governed were doing. Europe looked like a vast armed vigil."

Jean-Christophe, vol. X (1912).

[English translation by Gilbert Cannan, vol. iv, p. 504.]

Introduction by the Translator 7
Preface 15
I. An Open Letter to Gerhart Hauptmann 19
II. Pro Aris 23
III. Above the Battle 37
IV. The Lesser of Two Evils 56
V. Inter Arma Caritas 75
VI. To the People That is Suffering for Justice 92
VII. Letter to My Critics 96
VIII. The Idols 106
IX. For Europe (Spain) 121
X. For Europe (Holland) 126
XI. Letter to Frederik Van Eeden 135
XII. Our Neighbour the Enemy 141
XIII. Letter to the “Svenska Dagbladet” 150
XIV. War Literature 152
XV. The Murder of the Élite 167
XVI. Jaurès 180

It is my pleasant duty to thank the brave friends who have defended me during the past year, in the Parisian press: at the end of October 1914, Amedée Dunois, in l’Humanité, and Henri Guilbeaux, in the Bataille syndicaliste; in the same paper, Fernand Deprès; Georges Pioch, in the Hommes du Jour; J. M. Renaitour, in the Bonnet Rouge; Rouanet, in l’Humanité; Jacques Mesnil, in the Mercure de France, and Gaston Thiesson, in the Guerre Sociale. To these faithful comrades in the struggle I express my affectionate gratitude.

R. R.

October 1915.