Page:Pierre and Luce.djvu/26

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drew themselves away and did not feel any connection with the generations that preceded them; they did not partake in any way of their passions, their hopes and their hatreds; they were bystanders beside all the frantic goings-on like men who are sober looking on at those who are drunk. But what could they do in opposition? Many had started little magazines, reviews whose ephemeral lives were snuffed out after the first numbers for lack of air; the censorship produced a vacuum; the entire thought of France was under the pneumatic exhausting bell. Among these young fellows the most distinguished ones, too feeble to rebel and too proud to complain, knew beforehand that they were delivered up to the sword of war. While they waited for their turn at the slaughterhouse they looked on and made their judgments in silence, each one by himself, with a little surprise and a great deal of irony. Through a disdainful reaction against the mental condition of the herd they fell back into a kind of egotism, intellectual and artistic egotism, an idealistic sensualism, where