Synopses & Reviews
(1895–1969) was a French novelist widely known as the author of the satire Clochemerle
, which was written in 1934, translated into twenty-six languages, and sold several million copies. Born in Lyon, Chevallier was called up at the start of World War I and wounded a year later, but returned to the front where he served as an infantryman until the war’s end. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre and named Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.
John Berger is an art critic, novelist, painter, and poet, whose books include To the Wedding, the Into Their Labours trilogy, About Looking, Ways of Seeing, and G., for which he won the Booker Prize. His most recent book is Cataract: Some Notes After Having a Cataract Removed. He lives in a small rural community in France.
Malcolm Imrie's translations from the French include Guy Debord’s Comments on the Society of the Spectacle and José Pierre’s Investigating Sex: Surrealist Discussions 1928–1932. His translation of Gabriel Chevallier’s Fear won the 2013 Scott Moncrieff Prize, the most prestigious award for French to English translation.
"Chevallier's (best known for Clochemerle) book, published for the first time in the U.S. with an award-winning translation by Malcolm Imrie on the centennial of World War I, represents that rarest of war narratives one that is indispensable, nearly unprecedented, and painfully relevant. Based on Chevalier's experiences on WWI's front lines, the novel was met with controversy upon its original publication in France in 1930. The plot unfurls in linear war-story fashion: our 'malcontent hero,' Dartemont, is unceremoniously dispatched to the trenches, 'where rotting corpses serve as bait.' He's subsequently wounded, and convalesces in a hospital among insane youths and acquiescent matrons, only to return home a changed man. There he is treated with baffled embarrassment by his family, and shipped back to the sustained nightmare of the front lines. What makes Chevallier's book a masterpiece is the lucidity of the author's eyewitness account; its prose moves from practical concerns like picking lice to poetic reverie in the space of a paragraph, capturing the chaos of war and the stillness of the battlefield, revealing a terrible beauty." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
An NYRB Classics Original
Winner of the Scott Moncrieff Prize for Translation
1915: Jean Dartemont heads off to the Great War, an eager conscript. The only thing he fears is missing the action. Soon, however, the vaunted “war to end all wars” seems like a war that will never end: whether mired in the trenches or going over the top, Jean finds himself caught in the midst of an unimaginable, unceasing slaughter. After he is wounded, he returns from the front to discover a world where no one knows or wants to know any of this. Both the public and the authorities go on talking about heroes—and sending more men to their graves. But Jean refuses to keep silent. He will speak the forbidden word. He will tell them about fear.
John Berger has called Fear “a book of the utmost urgency and relevance.” A literary masterpiece, it is also an essential and unforgettable reckoning with the terrible war that gave birth to a century of war.
About the Author
(1895–1969) was the son of a notary clerk and lived in Lyon for most of his life. He was called up at the start of World War I and wounded a year later. Returning to the front, he spent the remainder of the war as an infantryman, and was ultimately awarded the Croix de Guerre and named Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. He began writing Fear
in 1925 but did not publish it until 1930, a year after his first novel, Durand: voyageur de commerce
, was released. Fear
was suppressed during World War II and not made available again until 1951, by which time Chevallier had earned international fame for his Clochemerle
(1934), a comedy of provincial French manners of the Beaujolais region that sold several million copies. In all Chevallier would write twenty-one novels, including several more set in the fictional village of Clochemerle.
John Berger is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including To the Wedding, the Into Their Labours trilogy, About Looking, Ways of Seeing, and G., for which he won the Booker Prize. His most recent book is Understanding a Photograph, a collection of his writings about photography, edited by Geoff Dyer. He lives in a small rural community in France.
Malcolm Imrie’s translations from the French include Guy Debord’s Comments on the Society of the Spectacle and José Pierre’s Investigating Sex: Surrealist Discussions 1928–1932. His translation of Gabriel Chevallier’s Fear won the Scott Moncrieff Prize, the most prestigious award for a French-to-English translation.