(Based on his own experience of the Great War, Henri Barbu...)
Based on his own experience of the Great War, Henri Barbusse's novel is a powerful account of one of the greatest horrors mankind has inflicted on itself. For the group of ordinary men in the French Sixth Battalion, thrown together from all over France and longing for home, war is simply a matter of survival, lightened only by the arrival of their rations or a glimpse of a pretty girl or a brief reprieve in the hospital. Reminiscent of classics like Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms and Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, Under Fire (originally published in French as La Feu) vividly evokes life in the trenches: the mud, stench, and monotony of waiting while constantly fearing for one's life in an infernal and seemingly eternal battlefield. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
He studied at the Sorbonne and then made his living in comparative obscurity as a journalist in Paris.
In 1895 he brought out a small volume of verse, Les Pleureuses, which received favorable attention, and in 1908 he published his first novel, L'Enfer (The Inferno, 1918). With the coming of war he enlisted as a private, was twice decorated, and wrote a novel, Le Feu (1916) (Under Fire, 1917), based on his experiences, which won him the Prix Goncourt in 1917 and has been considered one of the best war novels ever written. This was followed by Clarte (1919), a novel with a similar theme. Barbusse was one of the earliest novelists to write of war with stark realism and repugnance, describing the daily persistent horrors of the trenches and the broken families. He became leader of Clarte, l'Internationale de la Pensée, a group dedicated to pacifism, social equality, and intellectual internationalism and founded the World Committee against War and Fascism. He was drama critic for Lettres, Femina, and the Grande Revue, an editor of Commune, and founder of Le Monde. He was also a member of the Ethiopian Defense Committee. An active antimilitarist and a supporter of international communism, he lectured in England, the United States, and Europe. In 1927 he wrote La Russie, based on a trip to the Soviet Union, and also Jesus, and Les Judas de Jesus, setting forth the similarities of Jesus' philosophy to that of communism. After writing Staline (Stalin; a New World Seen Through One Man) in 1935 he went to Moscow and died there, August 30, 1935, while attending the Seventh Congress of the Communist International.